How to Certify and Authenticate Documents

I spent the morning downtown getting some of our dossier documents all officially sealed so that we can finally submit our dossier to China. Since some of you will never have the pleasure of getting to do this, I thought I would share the process so that you can feel as though, you, too, have been there and done that.

Step 1: Gather your documents together and make sure they are all in order and notarized. Make copies of everything.

Step 2: Recheck your documents so that you are sure you still have everything because something might have disappeared in the previous five minutes.

Step 3: Convince a good friend that she wants to go downtown with you because you want the company and moral support.

Step 4: Recheck your documents again and borrow your daughter's Ventra card because you don't take public transportation enough to have one yourself.

Step 5: Get up so you can get an early start and not get caught in the Chinese Consulate lunch hour break.

Step 6: Remember at the last minute that you need to print out the application form that needs to be turned in with your documents as well as a photo copy of your passport.

Step 7: Leave to go get on the train, stopping by the coffee shop so your friend can get some tea.

Step 8: Recheck your documents while you wait for the train to show up.

Step 9: Board the Evanston Express train which should whisk you downtown in in about 40 minutes.

Step 10: Spend an hour and forty minutes on the express which is not.

Step 11: Find the building which houses the Secretary of State Index Office and head up to the 10th floor.

Step 12: Complete the application, check the documents one last time, write the check, and turn everything in at the window.

Step 13: Sit down for two minutes, then go back up to the window when your name is called.

Step 14: Despite the fact that you've attended this rodeo many times, hear the reason why the Secretary of State is rejecting three of your nine documents. Resign yourself to making this same trip two more times and rewrite the check.

Step 15: Wait for ten minutes and then pick-up your state certified documents.

Step 16: Recheck documents again, this time being absolutely sure nothing happens to the precious staples holding the certifications to the documents.

Step 17: Take a 20 minute walk north from State Street, across the Chicago River, and up to near the Magnificent Mile. Enjoy the scenery and the fact it is not yet pouring as predicted.

Step 18: Find the building where the Chinese Consulate is located, sign in at the desk in the lobby, and take the elevator to the fifth floor.

Step 19: Enter the Consulate, push the button on the number dispenser which says, "Authentication/visas". Receive your number and realize that there are at least 30 people ahead of you.

Step 20: Use the rather bizarre copy machine in the waiting room (15 cents/per copy) to copy the certifications you just picked up at the Secretary of State's office. In the course of doing this, help several people understand the copy machine and help them with change.

Step 21: Find a flat surface to organize your stack of original documents, copies, application, and passport copy. Realize that the bizarre copy machine didn't scan your last document and instead gave you a copy of the previous one.

Go back and repeat Step 20.

Repeat Step 21.

Finally break out of this endless loop and move to...

Step 22: Wait for your number to be called. Now, you don't want to take this step lightly. There are three windows which call numbers. There are a lot of people waiting. The PA system is not very loud or terribly clear. If you happen to not notice your number is called, the person at the window will wait approximately two seconds before she calls the next number. Vigilance is necessary.

Step 23: Step up to the window when your name is called and hand in your stack of papers. Breath a small sigh of relief that you have learned not to add paper clips to anything, so you avoid the slightly annoyed and shaming sigh of the person on the other side of the window. Receive your receipt which says you can pick-up your documents on Monday.

Step 24: Very, very, very carefully place the receipt in a very safe place. Without this little piece of paper, you will never receive your documents. Just like the woman at the pick-up window didn't receive her passport while you were waiting for your number. NEVER LOSE THE RECEIPT!

Step 25: Recheck where you put the receipt.

Step 26: Go out to lunch with your good friend, catch the train and head home. The non-express train will zip you home in about 40 minutes.

Step 27: Enjoy watching everyone eat all the treats that B. brought back for them from Taiwan. Many of my children love seaweed.

Step 28: Receive phone call from J. that he is heading to the ER with M., who may have appendicitis. I'll keep everyone updated.

Step 29: Realize that you get to do this all over again, at least once more, but probably all by yourself and hopefully without Step 28.


Kelly said…
This makes me realize the courier is worth the money!
Nice that you can do both in one day. We do Sec State one day and Consulate another day, since they're in different cities here. But SF Consulate has the exact same copier that yours does, lol.
Alex and Riann said…
Oh my. This is a fantastically, painfully accurate accounting of a process that is just one piece of this crazy puzzle! Aren't we thankful for the beautiful picture that we will eventually get to see when it is completed? Thinking of you all, with gratitude!

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