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Superfluous notary requirements cause headache

Update: July, 24/2014 - 09:33
Many people in Viet Nam, including foreigners, have troubles when getting their documents and papers stamped at notary offices or authenticated at local governmental offices.— Photo dddn

by Hong Minh

Many people in Viet Nam, including foreigners, have troubles when getting their documents and papers stamped at notary offices or authenticated at local governmental offices.

Many are still asked by authorities to present the notarised or authenticated versions with the original versions. This makes many people wonder about the value of the authenticated copies.

That is one of the many oddities that have made the completion of administrative procedures a nightmare for the average citizen.

In a People Ask-Ministers Answer programme last week, the Minister of Justice, Ha Hung Cuong, said it was totally wrong for authorities to ask for the notarised version together with the original.

As an explanation, the minister said this was because the Government's Decree 79/2007/ND-CP on the issue of copies from master registers, authentication of copies from originals, and authentication of signatures had been mistakenly implemented.

He said that during administrative procedures, people could choose to submit authenticated copies together with the original version for checking and comparing. This meant that the notarised and authenticated copies had similar value to the originals.

However, the minister said the last part of the regulation had been wrongly implemented, leading to incorrect procedures for handling notarised and authenticated copies.

He also revealed that about 100 million papers and documents were notarised or otherwise authenticated annually in Viet Nam. "A document sometimes contains dozens of pages and the notarisation or authentication of such a document crreates huge waste," Cuong said.

To explain what had gone wrong in the implementation of the decree, Cuong said it was because the quality of notary work in Viet Nam was still weak. As a result, many employees did not know how to deal with fake documents or otherwise do their work correctly.

"Due to low quality, notarised/authenticated copy-receiving agencies and organisations often tend to ask for the original version at the same time to avoid responsibilities afterwards," he said.

The minister's answers shook me. For about 20 years since I turned 18, I have dealt with notary services innumerable times to authenticate birth certificates, education degrees, citizen ID cards and residence books for myself and my relatives. On many occasions, I was troubled by the slowness, irresponsibility and red tape at some notary offices, including being asked to provide the originals as well.

But, according to the minister, my documents and millions of others are not processed according to procedure because of the inefficiency of office staff. What a huge waste of time!

Administration staff, according to what the minister said, are pushing their lack of knowledge onto customers because they want to be safe from all responsibilities.

Although the issue sounds small, it reflects a general problem. The country is building a new future for the 21st century, but how can it do this if one of the basic foundations for verifying statements is not working properly?

As the Minister of Justice admits, his staff in notary/authentication services and those who later receive the documents are often inept, so the key point is to raise the working quality and awareness of all staff.

The Government should ensure that all staff working in notary and authentication services are trained. They must be given the latest technologies and skills. — VNS

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