The “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization for Foreign Public Documents,” also known as the “Apostille Convention” or the “Apostille Treaty,” is an international treaty ratified by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Moreover, this Convention delineates the formalities and specificities by which a document, which is issued in one of the Convention countries, is to be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory nations. Such manner of certification finds its form in the Apostille Certificate.
In Covention countries, Apostille Certificates are issued by “competent authorities”as explicitly designated by the government of the signatory nation. Such designated, competent authorities may include embassies, ministries, courts, local governments, etc..
In order to be able to obtain an Apostille Certificate, the document, which is to be “apostillized,” must have been issued or certified by a person in the capacity of his or her public office such that said office is recognized by the authority that will be issuing the Apostille Certificate.
In the United States, it is possible to obtain Apostille Certificates in reference to documents which are issued by government entities; moreover, such documents include, but are by no means limited to: Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Divorce Decrees, Death Certificates, Articles of Incorporation, Professional and Business Licenses, etc.; furthermore, private documents (such as contracts, wills, etc.), and even documents issued by foreign governments, may be virtually apostillized if the documents are first properly notarized by a Licensed Notary Public.
An Apostille Certificate does not attest to the viability or veracity of the document, but, rather, only certifies the authenticity of the public officer’s signature, said public officer’s legal capacity, and the correctness of the seal or stamp (if any).
For those situations in which a document’s country-of-origin, and/or the country which is to grant recognition, are not signatories of the Hague Convention, we must seek an alternative for of Certification, which, while not technically called an Apostille Certificate, nevertheless serves precisely the same function. For more information in these regards, please click here.