man typing on keyboard

WCS Announces Major IT Roll Out

In constant pursuit of enhanced Customer Experience, WCS has entered the final stage of our latest investment in online service-delivery. 

Leading the way in apostilles and legalizations, WCS has already placed many of the new features online, including a new Conversation Tab, accessible on the Order page. 

In one consolidated folder, clients can conduct dialogues with our expert document-processors, as well as review document orders, including pricing, timeline, geographical distribution, and more.

Another significant feature, nearing completion, is the consolidation of WCS Express™ (our ordering platform) and WCS SecureShare™ (our encrypted document transmission platform) into a unitary sign-in.

In June, we established our International tab, enabling clients to designate documents with OUS origination (Outside of U.S.).

We have also upgraded our reporting and data-management capabilities, enabling advanced and customized reports for revenue performance, customer spend, and ancillary costs. 

Additionally, clients will be automatically prompted to upload shipping labels when placing an order, saving time and money later in the process. As always, however, we provide the convenient option of providing shipping via Fedex. 

Even better than sending original documents is having a process that can be completed with digital copies. We keep you current on the growing number of document-types and destinations that qualify for 100% digital transactions. Our client simply uploads the document—and we take it from there.

Recently, we had a certified third-party run a PEN test, and we achieved the highest levels of cyber security. Specifically, we passed the stringent security requirements of the European Union.

Taken as a whole, these enhancements serve a core purpose: to alleviate your staff’s workload and increase your speed-to-market. 

Set up an account today—at www.wcss.com. . . and let WCS manage your documentary needs, with apostilles and legalizations made easy.

Indonesian flag blowing in clear skies

Indonesia Joins the Apostille Treaty

On June 4, 2022, Indonesia, a powerhouse nation with a growing population of 270 million, joined the Apostille Treaty, marking the 61st anniversary of the treaty’s accord. 

Created in 1961 at the Hague Convention in the Netherlands, the Apostille Treaty currently has 121 signatory nations—participating in a simplified process for transborder documents. The apostille system greatly reduces the red tape required for vital transactions. Pharmaceutical approvals, shipping documents, academic records, adoption papers, powers-of-attorney—all these transactions benefit from the streamlined apostille process. Largely replaced has been the traditional methods of legalization requiring Embassy review and approval of documents.

Today, any document having both origination and destination in apostille countries can be authenticated in one step. Traditional legalization can take up to several weeks—or in some cases months—under Covid restrictions.

The work of the Hague Convention, however, remains incomplete. Indonesia’s signing of the Apostille Treaty signals a milestone for a treaty which has yet to attract the approval of countries as diverse as Canada, China, Egypt, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. 

Underscoring the significance of this event, is Indonesia’s presence in the global pharmaceutical market. Pharmaceuticals and medical devices comprise a significant portion of transborder documentation. In 2021, Indonesia ranked as the largest market in the ASEAN regions, with a value of USD $10.11 billion.

The road to the Hague was a long one for Indonesia. The Hague Convention itself, little known in most circles, has a storied past, dating back to the 1890’s and including matters of diplomacy that range from arms control and rules-of-war to cross-border adoptions. The Apostille Treaty has been among its most successful contributions to international relations and global trade.

In recent times, its application has shifted largely to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Highly regulated to protect the public, pharma has become a fully globalized industry. Transborder mergers and acquisitions mark a commercial landscape where manufacturing is frequently off-shored and medicinal products are then distributed to countries around the globe. 

For Indonesia, the move to apostilles promises to improve the business climate. By offering this time-and-cost-saving method, the giant South Pacific nation intends to enhance its competitive position.

And for companies and individuals doing business in Indonesia, life just got easier.

The Hague at night

Uncovering the Rich History of the Hague Convention

We call it The Hague in English, Den Hag in its native Dutch, but often La Haye, using French, the traditional language of international diplomacy. 

In any language, this is the city where a historic international accord was created   in 1961, affecting to this day the flow of vital documents among countries. This accord is called The Treaty of the Hague Convention of 1961—aka The Apostille Convention.

Recently, the Hague also became home to the European Medicines Agency, producing many of the documents relative to pharmaceutical export.

In the shorthand of global document authentication, most things boil down to “Hague” and “Non-Hague.” This designates whether the origination and destination countries of any given document are signatories to the Treaty of the Hague Convention of 1961. If it was, one official stamp, issued by any member country, will authenticate a document for use in any other member country. Today, there are more than 100 signatory nations.

It was only natural in 1961 that nations of the world would turn to The Hague Convention to streamline the approval process for cross-border documents. Natural, because long before there was a United Nations or even a League of Nations, there already existed a structure for international negotiation.

A little digging reveals a rich and storied history of the Hague Convention and one with roots in the searingly relevant issues of arms control and rules of engagement for warfare. 

The first Hague Convention convened in 1899, at the behest of Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II, to restrict the damages of war. As increasingly lethal weaponry affected civilian populations and civil infrastructure in the decades following the fall of the Napoleonic Empire and during the expansion of European colonialism, leaders sought to limit rules of engagement. Almost quaint by modern standards, but deadly serious in its time, was the practice of dropping explosives from flying balloons. Another hotly debated topic was the advent of exploding bullets. Protection of civilian targets and civil infrastructure also filled the agenda at the first Hague Convention.

Results were inconclusive, unfortunately,  and a follow-up conference was scheduled for 1907 which also failed to achieve consensus. The next Hague convention, scheduled for 1915, was canceled by the First World War, by which time aircraft had replaced balloons.

Fast forward to 1961. International conflict resolution had now passed to the United Nations, formed after WWII and headquartered in New York City. But the Hague convened for a different purpose: to streamline document legalization, a process critical to international trade of all types. They came up with apostille, a French term for “little stamp.” Suddenly, miles of red tape were removed for companies and individuals to use and apply their documents. 

Pharmaceutical companies, for example, could manufacture drugs in one country, brand them in conformity with its corporate headquarters, and pursue distribution throughout the world. 

Standard documents, such as powers-of-attorney and bills of lading, were suddenly streamlined when transiting among Hague countries.

Documents for adoption, intellectual property rights, work-abroad visas, and criminal background checks were similarly impacted.

Today, countless multitudes of companies and individuals benefit from the achievement of the Treaty of the Hague Convention of 1961. A subsequent Hague Convention treaty, crafted in 1996, added legal protections for children. Affecting cross-border adoptions and the threats of human trafficking, this was broader in scope than the previous Hague Conventions which had treated this critically important topic.

Perhaps it is the Convention’s voluminous handbook that states best the lasting legacy of this obscure treaty:

The Apostille Convention is the most widely ratified and acceded to of all the Conventions adopted under the auspices of the Hague Conventions. It is in force in over 100 States from all major regions representing all major legal systems of the world, making it one of the most successful international treaties in the area of international legal and administrative cooperation. 

Even after 60 years, the work of the Hague Convention remains incomplete. Despite its wide application among more than 100 nations around the globe, numerous countries remain non-signatories, examples including Canada, China, Egypt, and others. The most recent signatories, welcomed in 2021, include Singapore and Jamaica.

globe against tan background

Documents Without Borders: WCS Expands Scope-of-Service to the EU, UK, and Canada

As business becomes more globalized, WCS has moved to the forefront, authenticating overseas documents in the EU, UK, and Canada.

We have established a network of affiliate offices in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Canada, and we are planning for additional expansion. With this network, WCS now processes apostilles and legalizations originating outside the US (OUS). During our launch period in the  fourth quarter of 2021, we successfully authenticated hundreds of documents originating in Europe and the UK. 

Based on customer response, we project accelerated growth in OUS documents in 2022. Our affiliate office in the Netherlands will serve as the hub for the WCS portfolio of EU pharmaceutical companies, due to the 2019 relocation of the EMA (European Medicines Agency) to Amsterdam.

With 38 years’ experience and more than 500,000 documents processed, WCS is a proven service provider for US companies needing international document processing. Since expanding the scope-of-service to OUS markets, we understand the ways this involves each sovereign nation’s distinct regulations.  As subject experts for both Hague and non-Hague countries, WCS is uniquely positioned to chart and manage the navigation of documents through regulatory bodies and embassies.

Critical to our global capability has been a significant tech-forward investment over recent years. Utilizing trademarked technology platforms, our clients save time and money with automated ordering for apostilles and legalizations, irrespective of a document’s point of origination. 

WCS Express™ enables clients, in addition to centralized, automated ordering, to track documents and settle invoices directly from the platform. You can also check estimated dates-of-completion, as well as run activity reports detailing your previous documents with line-item cost analysis.

WCS SecureShare™ ensures safe transfer of proprietary documents. This is a critical feature, as government agencies move steadily toward digital signatures—eliminating the need, in many cases, for original hard-copies to be shipped and handled.

Ever vigilant in the field of cyber-security, WCS recently conducted a PEN test with a licensed third-party. The certification we received enables us to comply with stringent EU cyber-security standards.

What is the future of apostilles and legalizations at WCS? Our roadmap to 2022 includes the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East Gulf region. Documents-without-borders is the mission, and the 2021 record proves we are uniquely positioned to provide integrated services with global scope. WCS has responded to these growing demands, and we are proud to unveil the success of our efforts. 

WCS will continue to grow our global reach, and we will keep you updated as we expand our services.

Apostille Sample

To Apostille or Not to Apostille? An Important Regulatory Question for Our Times

When certifying documents for use in foreign countries, it’s all about the details.

  • Does your application for adoption require an apostille?
  • Do your diploma and transcript need to be sent in original form, or is a scanned version ok?
  • Does your pharmaceutical ISO need an authentication from a state Secretary of State, then further certification at the U.S. Department of State, and finally legalization at the Embassy of the destination country?
  • What is a “Hague country,” anyway?

Well, just to get you started, apostille, like so many words from the world of international relations, is French—for annotation.

Apostilles apply to documents which have both origin and destination in countries that are signatories to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. More than 100 countries have signed the Hague treaty, streamlining the procedures for diplomas, adoption papers, IP certifications, pharmaceutical ISO, CPP, CFG, GMP, CFS, powers-of-attorney, cargo documents, and more.

Over the years, the list of participating countries has grown. In 2021, Singapore and Jamaica became the latest signatories to the treaty.   

On the other hand, Canada, China, Turkey, and Indonesia are “Non-Hague” countries that still legalize foreign documents the traditional way, at their embassies.

At Washington Consular Services, we are the subject experts, navigating our clients’ documents through the maze of procedures and requirements for 38 years. We ensure that documents receive an authentication based on the countries involved and the type of document.

The result is more than 500,000 documents successfully processed to countries around the globe, and an established role as industry leader.

As a vital niche of regulatory affairs, international document processing regulations are subject to change in response to new regulatory edicts and/or technology upgrades. Increasingly, public authorities in the U.S., the EU, and around the globe are issuing documents electronically. There are also inconsistencies in acceptance criteria for document submissions among authorities and country representatives. At WCS, we ensure documents are submitted in the correct format—electronic scans whenever  possible, and mailed originals if necessary.

We often hear our clients ask for an apostille of a document. The first thing we do is some vetting, to make sure an apostille is really needed, rather than a legalization. If there is a non-Hague country involved in the story, either as origin or destination, then several extra steps will be necessary to obtain a legalization.

The last step in the legalization process is a stamp at the destination country’s local authority or embassy located in the origin country. Sometimes, there is no embassy located in the country where the document originated. Not to worry! At WCS, we know how to find the workarounds, quickly and efficiently.

It’s important to note that WCS can process any apostille or legalization right here in the State of Maryland, regardless of the state in which your document originated.

A good bottom line for the myriad rules of regulatory compliance is to set up an account on www.wcss.com and send us your documents. We’ll take care of them (and you), relying on our 38 years of experience and expertise.

If your business is corporate and your document authentication needs ongoing services, call us to discuss projected volume and business-type. From food & drug to intellectual property, academic records, adoption papers,and freight forwarding documents, WCS is the go-to company for white-glove service and supreme reliability.

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