The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents of 5 October 1961 (the “Convention”) is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law which brought about a basic simplification of the formalities for the legalisation of public documents outside of the countries from which they emanated. In the present article you can find out when and how the Convention applies, who can issue Apostilles, what the effect of an Apostille is and what you have to think about before requesting an Apostille.
What is an Apostille?
An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. It can be issued for documents issued in a country which is member to the Convention and can be used in any country which is member of the Convention.
When do you need an Apostille?
When all the following conditions are met:
In which countries does the Convention apply?
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, China, People's Republic of (Hong Kong & Macao Only), Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Republic of Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Republic of Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, North Macedonia, Republic of Norway, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
What happens in case that both the country where the public document was issued and the country where I want to use the public document are members of the European Union?
The Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 abolishes the apostille requirements between EU countries but only about public documents in certain areas. Thus, only if the public document is covered by one of these areas, there is no need to have the public document apostilled. Otherwise, it has to be apostilled. As an instance, birth certificate and the marriage certificate do need to be apostilled.
To which documents does the Convention apply?
To public documents. The law of the country where the document was issued determines if a document is public or not. For instance, apostilles are issued for documents of administrative nature. If you are not sure if a document is public document, you should contact the competent authority of the country where the document is issued.
Where do I get an Apostille?
From the competent authority (or authorities) which is designated by each member of the Convention.
What should I check before requesting an Apostille?
What should I do in case the country where the public document was issued or the country where I want to use the public document is not a member of the Convention?
You should contact the Embassy of the country where you wish to use the public document and they will inform you about your options.
What are the effects of an Apostille?
It certifies the origin of the public document, the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority which signs or seals the document and the capacity in which this was done. It does not certify the content of the document.
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