What is an Apostille
- An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, a judgment, an extract of a register or a notarial attestation). The Model Apostille Certificate is reproduced at the beginning of this brochure.
You will need an Apostille if all of the following apply:
• the country where the document was issued is party to the Apostille Convention; and
• the country in which the document is to be used is party to the Apostille Convention; and
• the law of the country where the document was issued considers it to be a public document; and
• the country in which the document is to be used requires an Apostille in order to recognize it as a foreign public document.
- An Apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued – Apostilles are strictly for the use of public documents abroad!
- An Apostille may not be required if the laws, regulations, or practice in force in the country where the public document is to be used have abolished or simplified the requirement of an Apostille, or have exempted the document from any legalization requirement. Such simplification or exemption may also result from a treaty or other agreement that is in force between the country where the public document is to be used and the country that issued it (e.g., some other Hague Conventions exempt documents from legalization or any analogous formality, including an Apostille)
- If you have any doubts, you should ask the intended recipient of your document whether an Apostille is necessary in your particular case
- If your public document was issued or is to be used in a country where the Apostille Convention does not apply, you should contact the Embassy or a Consulate of the country where you intend to use the document in order to find out what your options are. The Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference does not provide assistance in such cases
- The Convention only applies to public documents. Whether or not a document is a public document is determined by the law of the country in which the document was issued. Countries typically apply the Convention to a wide variety of documents. Most Apostilles are issued for documents of an administrative nature, including birth, marriage and death certificates; documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with a court, tribunal or commission; extracts from commercial registers and other registers; patents; notarial acts and notarial attestations (acknowledgments) of signatures; school, university and other academic diplomas issued by public institutions.
- The Apostille Convention does not apply to documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents. The Convention also excludes from its scope certain administrative documents related to commercial or customs operations.
- Each country that is party to the Convention must designate one or several authorities that are entitled to issue Apostilles. These authorities are called Competent Authorities – only they are permitted to issue Apostilles.
- The list of all Competent Authorities designated by each country that has joined the Apostille Convention is available in the Apostille Section of the Hague Conference website.
- Some countries have designated only one Competent Authority. Other countries have designated several Competent Authorities either to ensure that there are Competent Authorities in different regions of the country or because different government entities are responsible for different kinds of public documents; in some federal systems, the national Government may be responsible for certain types of documents whereas a component state or local government may be responsible for others.
- If a country has designated various Competent Authorities, make sure you identify the relevant Competent Authority for your request.
- Most Apostilles are issued on the same day they are requested.
- The Apostille Section of the Hague Conference website provides full contact details of most Competent Authorities, including links to the websites of Competent Authorities where available.
Before you approach a Competent Authority about getting an Apostille, you should consider questions such as:
• Does the Apostille Convention apply in both the country that issued the public document and the country where I intend to use it?
• If the country that issued the public document has designated several Competent Authorities, which one is the relevant Competent Authority to issue an Apostille for my public document?
• Can I get an Apostille for my public document, i.e., is my document considered a public document under the law of the country where it was issued?
• Can I request an Apostille by mail or must I appear in person? This is particularly relevant if you are living in a country other than the country that issued your public document.
• If I have multiple documents, will I need multiple Apostilles?
• Are there other documents (in addition to the public document) or additional information that I need to provide to get an Apostille (e.g., a document establishing my identity or a stamped envelope in the case of requests by mail)?
• How much does an Apostille cost and what forms of payment are available?
• How long will it take to get the Apostille?
- "The ABCs of Apostilles" (PDF) brochure provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and the Convention's operation that has been prepared by the Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and is provided with the Permanent Bureau's permission.