Translations & Certifications

So this is where it gets a bit tricky. Everything has been fairly straightforward so far; this is the part where I get to deal with three (3!) consulates’ sets of requirements. This is what happens when you move and have life events in multiple places. Don’t do it. :p

Almost all of the documents I have “belong” to the Montreal consulate. Two of my own documents “belong” to Chicago. What I mean by this is that these are the consulates in charge of certifying these particular documents (based on where the documents originated). In the case of the Chicago documents, I have apostilles so I can just bring these to Toronto (although Chicago still determines the requirements for these documents). In Canada there is no such thing as apostille, so instead the consulate takes care of legalizing the documents. However, you can’t legalize Quebec documents in Ontario (which means I am taking a little trip to Montreal).

The language the documents are written in complicates things a bit too. The Toronto consulate only accepts translations by Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) members (here is their official list). I chose a translator from the list who could do English->Italian as well as French->Italian. However, the Montreal consulate requires translation from someone on their own list (here). This means I will need to hire two translators.

The next step is certification of the translations by the consulates. Translations of the English documents will be certified at my Toronto appointment. Translations of the French documents need to be certified by the Montreal consulate first before they can be accepted at my appointment.

In sum, that’s two different processes going on:

  • legalization of the documents
  • certification of the accuracy of translations

sigh. Complicated! (But not hard…just a lot of coordination.)




Today I got my marriage certificate & licence back from the Secretary of State — along with two very official-looking apostilles attached! This is one more step I can cross off completely.

The process of obtaining the apostilles was very simple (and quite fast). I searched “apostille + [my state]” and found all the information I needed. I sent a simple letter to my state’s Secretary of State requesting apostille for the two enclosed documents, plus a cheque. The apostilles were issued within a week of mailing the request (from within the state; probably would have been about two weeks if I’d mailed the request from Toronto). Not bad.

Those embossed seals…so shiny.

I also got one Quebec document in the mail (my own birth certificate). I am not really sure why the consulate needs the Copie d’acte — it’s the same information, just….spread out on a page.

Quebec Documents – general comments

I finally sent away for my remaining Quebec documents last week. If you are a Quebec resident, you can order vital records online via DEClic!. The benefit is that they are much cheaper! (for a copie d’acte, $37 ordered online vs. $52 through mail) Unfortunately, I am not a Quebec resident. I asked the appropriate official parties, and there is apparently no way they are willing to let you use the online system if you do not pay taxes through Revenue Quebec. Oh well.

The good news though is that they are surprisingly fast. The website lists a 10 day processing time (for regular, non-expedited requests). I Xpresspost-ed my request package late last week, so it should have arrived in their office on Monday; by Wednesday, they had already charged my credit card. (No idea if they’ve retrieved the documents yet, but taking my money is a good start.)

02/05 UPDATE: I have been denied! When ordering other people’s documents, Quebec asks that you justify your interest with a legal document. There is no applicable legal document for the jure sanguinis process, so last time I sent in a list of requirements off the consulate’s website — which worked. This time, it did not work. I don’t exactly understand why, so I’ll chalk it up to individual differences in the staff (or maybe I was making too many requests at once?).

To salvage the operation, I got my mum to make the request for her own birth & marriage certificates and my grandparents’ marriage certificate. According to the website, she is legally entitled to these documents without justification. Fingers crossed for better luck this time.

02/10 UPDATE: I received my grandparents’ marriage certificate. Many typos… requesting corrections. Very not impressed.

At least they’re not as bad as this mistake.

Grandparents’ Italian Passports

I can’t believe I forgot about these — they’re two of the most important documents I have!! I got very lucky. My uncle had both Nonna & Nonno’s original passports from Italy in his possession, and right away he sent me a photocopy. The passports prove that my grandparents were Italian citizens when they arrived in Canada. They also have a stamp from Canadian immigration showing the date of landing, which I think is also helpful.

Original passports from 1953/54…wow!

I still needed to show either the original passports or certified copies to the consulate where I was applying. The passports were in Quebec, and I did not want to bring them back to Toronto and risk losing/damaging them. So I brought them to the consulate in Montreal and had the photocopies certified (with about 5 different stamps and signatures — very official 🙂 )

My documents

Finally, the easiest part! …sort of. I have my passport, birth certificate (which I will have to reorder; same reason as above), driver’s licence, proof of address, and anything else they want to look at. Only a couple of documents in this category require effort:

Marriage certificate & licence (USA)

The only unfortunate part about this is because my state uses two separate documents (the licence and the certificate), I need to produce them both. Actually I suspect this is pretty standard as far as the States goes. I acquired my two documents from the county easily, and have sent them to [my state’s] Secretary of State for apostille. Actually, most of the credit for this goes to my mum. 🙂

Husband’s birth certificate (China)

I only needed a photocopy of this (which I already had). This is fantastic, since his birth certificate is 4 pages long and half Mandarin/half English. I would NOT want to have to get that translated again.

Parents’ Vital Records – USA

Divorce decree (USA)

This step was far less complicated than it sounds. It certainly helped that they did not care whether this document was official. My mum got me an official stamped-by-the-state copy, but at least I don’t have to get apostille! Woooo! Done.

Mum’s green card (USA)

My mum is a permanent resident of the U.S. The consulate requested a photocopy of my mum’s green card to show that she had not become a citizen of the U.S. I think this is important is she ever wants to apply to be recognized as an Italian citizen. There’s a part of the U.S. citizenship oath that specifically states that you renounce all other citizenships. While they can’t do anything about her Canadian citizenship, this could get in the way of her claim to Italian citizenship.*

*don’t quote me on that. Also, I am not a lawyer.


Parents’ Vital Records – Canada

My parents were both born in Quebec. They got married in Quebec, and later moved to the U.S. and got divorced. But this does not really complicate the process. After getting the grandparents’ documents sorted, this will be a breeze.

Birth certificates (Quebec)

Super easy. Both can be ordered straight from the Directeur de l’etat civil (English equivalent = registrar?). In fact, if my father had a birth certificate lying around, I could submit a photocopy of it. They even accept photocopies of the wallet-sized version (which I did even not know existed; is that useful??).

Attempt #1

*sigh* I screwed up. The consulate specifically asked for the “Copie d’acte de naissance” (Copy of an act of birth). The problem is that in English, the website asks for the “Long form” of all official birth certificates. This is the most you can get from other provinces (including Ontario), so I understand. But I got confused and ordered the long form instead of the copie d’acte. I had it certified too.  Oh well, mistakes happen. This will be easy to rectify.

Marriage certificate (Quebec)

I haven’t ordered this yet. But it’ll be a boring process (yay).