HAGUE APOSTILLE CONVENTION

In 1961, a number of nations collaborated to develop a streamlined process for ‘legalizing’ papers so that they could be recognized by all countries. As a result of the Hague Convention, the introduction and proliferation of a document known as an Apostille were approved by conference participants. This document would be recognized by all member nations.

The USA is a member of the Hague Convention eliminating the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents since October 15th, 1981.

WHAT DOES THE APOSTILLE CONVENTION DO

The Apostille Convention offers the streamlined verification of public (even notarized) documents to be used in nations that have signed the convention. Documents meant for use in participating nations and their domains will be certified by one of the authorities in the jurisdiction in which the document has been produced.

The Convention lowers all of the procedures of legalization to the mere delivery of a certificate in a defined form, designated ‘Apostille’, by the authorities of the State where the document originated. This certificate, put on the paper, is dated, numbered, and registered. The verification of its registration may be carried out without trouble by means of a simple request for information submitted to the body which supplied the certificate.

BACKGROUND

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille Convention, or the Apostille Convention, is an international treaty negotiated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Documents issued in one contractual state may be certified for legal purposes in all other participating states using the modalities specified by this convention. Certification under the requirements of the convention is termed an apostille or Hague apostille. It is an international certification analogous to a notarization under domestic law, and generally complements a local notarization of the document. If the convention applies between two nations, such an apostille is sufficient to guarantee a document’s authenticity and avoids the requirement for double-certification.

Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities authorized by the government of a state which is a party to the convention. A collection of these authorities is kept at the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Instances of designated authorities include embassies, ministries, courts, or municipal administrations. As an illustration, in the United States, the Secretary of State of every state and their subordinates are typically competent authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes, England, is responsible for issuing all apostilles in the United Kingdom. 

The goal of the Convention is to replace the conventional necessity of legalization, replacing the lengthy and expensive legalization procedure with a single Apostille certificate issued by a Competent Authority in the country from where the document originated. The electronic Apostille Program (e-APP) was developed in 2006 to assist the electronic issue and verification of Apostille across the globe.

HOW TO QUALIFY AS AN APOSTILLE DOCUMENT

To be qualified for an apostille, a document should first be issued or verified by an official acknowledged by the body that will provide the apostille. For instance, in the U.S. state of Vermont, the Secretary of State keeps specimen signatures of all notaries public, so papers that have been notarised are eligible for an apostille. Likewise, courts in the Netherlands are allowed to put an apostille on any municipal civil status papers immediately. 

Before an apostille may be issued, the nation where the document was originally issued may demand further confirmations. For example, the New York Secretary of State does not directly recognize the Office of Vital Records in New York City (which, among other things, produces birth certificates).  As a result, the signature of the City Clerk must be confirmed by the County Clerk of New York County to make the birth certificate suitable for an apostille. 

It has been made possible by the Apostille Convention for public papers to be signed in one State Party and produced in another State Party may be circulated. It achieves this by reducing the tedious and sometimes expensive procedures of a complete legalization process (chain certification) with the simple issuing of an Apostille (also called Apostille Certificate or Certificate) (also called Apostille Certificate or Certificate). The Convention has also conclusively demonstrated its utility for States that would not necessitate foreign public documents to be regularised or who do not recognize the notion of legalization in their domestic law. The citizens in these States enjoy the benefits of the Convention anytime they desire to produce a domestic public document in another State party that also, for its own part, needs authentication of the document concerned.

WHERE WOULD THE APOSTILLE CONVENTION BE APPLICABLE

The Convention applies solely to public document materials. All of those are documents arising from a jurisdiction or official linked with a court or tribunal of the State (which include documents submitted by an administrative, constitutional or ecclesiastical court or tribunal, a public prosecutor, a clerk, or a process-server); administrative documents; notarial acts; and official certificates which are positioned on documents approved by persons in their private capacity, including such official certificates capturing the registration of a document or the fact that it was in emergence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

The main examples of public documents for which Apostilles are issued in practice include birth, marriage, and death certificates, extracts from commercial registers and other registers, patents, court ruling, notarial acts, and notarial attestations of signatures as well as academic diplomas issued by public institutions. Apostilles may also be provided for a certified copy of a public document. But in the other extreme, the Convention neither applies to papers produced by diplomatic or consular agents nor to administrative documents directly concerned with business or customs activities (this second exclusion is to be interpreted)

The charge for obtaining an apostille varies greatly by nation. The HCCH computed an average cost of EUR 15.43 in 2016 after compiling fees from 54 countries. Some nations, such as France and Japan, do not impose a fee, whereas Australia costs 85 AUD, one of the most. In certain countries, the charge additionally varies by location, authority, number, purpose, or kind of document. The state of Indiana in the United States does not charge a price for apostilling a birth certificate, though the state of Connecticut does, and that amount is USD 40 USD. 

WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBLE DOCUMENTS FOR APOSTILLING

The Convention itself enumerates certain types of documents that are eligible to be apostilled. These would be [A.]  court documents; [B.]  administrative documents (e.g. civil status documents); [C.] notarial acts and [D.] official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

It is one of the most commonly used multilateral legal cooperation accords, with several million Apostilles issued each year, with more than 120 Contracting Parties.

The  Convention however does not apply to documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents or to administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations. 

WHAT DOES LEGALIZATION MEAN

A state that has not ratified the convention must explain how foreign legal papers might be certified for its use. Two nations may establish a particular convention on the recognition of each other’s public documents, although in reality, this is unusual. Unless otherwise specified, the document must always be certified by the foreign ministry of the nation from which it originated and then by the government’s foreign ministry of the country to which it will be used; one of the certifications is often accomplished in an embassy or consulate. In reality, this implies the document must be certified twice before it may have legal force in the receiving nation.

REQUIREMENTS TO COMPLY WITH THE APOSTILLE CONVENTION

Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a federal agency or certified by an American or foreign consul. An apostille certifies the document(s), so the document can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty. Apostilles are currently issued solely for federal documents to use in countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention. In order to verify the authenticity of a signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which it bears, a certificate issued by the competent authority of the State will be referred to.

The notary public must notarize each document before it may be submitted for authentication. It is required that a notary public’s commissioning office and secretary of state both certify the notarized documents if done so as commissioned by a county.

Of the case of state-appointed notaries, only the secretary of state in the notary’s home state may certify the document.

In order to get any document notarized and certified,  it is imperative to follow the protocol. This would mean that notarized signatures are required after document issuance. If notarized signatures require additional validation,  it may be required to have the document validated by the clerk of court. If a document needs certification from both an administrative official and a judicial official(the clerk of court and secretary of state)  the date on which each certification was performed must be clearly marked.

Notarizations are required before a request can be complied with.  All seals and signatures must be originals.  In order for anyone to accept the copies, they must be ‘true certified copies’ from a notary public. There is no such thing as a notary public certifying papers as ‘true copies’ when it comes to official records such as birth and death certificates and divorce decrees. The secretary of state is required to authenticate these papers.

An accurate translation of any document written in a foreign language must be performed by a professional translator and notarized.

Sources

1. From Latin post illa and afterward French: a marginal note

2. In Japan all official papers are published in Japanese; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan may then offer an apostille for these documents. In India, the apostille certification may be acquired from the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, following validation by the government of the Indian state where the document was issued (for educational papers)

3. Article 1 

The present Convention shall apply to public documents which have been executed in the territory of one Contracting State and which have to be produced in the territory of another Contracting State. 

For the purposes of the present Convention, the following are deemed to be public documents: 

a)documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the state, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court or a process-server(‘huissier de justice’);

b)administrative documents;

c)notarial acts;

d)official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a  document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

However, the present Convention shall not apply: a)to documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents;

b)to administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations

4. Article 2 

Each  Contracting  State shall be exempt from legalization documents to which the present  Convention applies and which have to be produced in its territory.  For  the  purposes  of  the  present  Convention, legalization means only the formality by which the diplomatic or consular agents of the country in which the  document  has  to  be  produced  certify  the  authenticity  of  the  signature,  the  capacity  in  which  the person signing the document has acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which it bears

5. Article4

The certificate referred to in the first paragraph of Article 3 shall be placed on the document itself or on an ‘allonge’; it shall be in the form of the model annexed to the present Convention. It may, however, be drawn up in the official language of the authority which issues it. The standard terms appearing therein may be in a second language also. The title ‘Apostille (Convention de LaHaye du 5 October 1961)’ shall be in the French language.

Article 5

The certificate shall be issued at the request of the person who has signed the document or of any bearer. When properly filled in, it will certify the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and,  where appropriate,  the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears. The signature, seal, and stamp on the certificate are exempt from all certification

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