What is the Apostille Certificate?Mike Harris
The apostille is an official government certificate which legalises documents in states (countries) which accept the apostille stamp. When a document is required in a country that is a member of The Hague Convention you will probably be asked to get the document legalised. Once a document has been issued with an apostille certificate the documents are then ‘legalised’ for use in an official capacity and are accepted in member states without requiring any further legalisation.
Since the convention came into place on the 5th October 1961, the use of the apostille in different states has continually grown and there are now over 100 member states who accept the apostille certificate. Even countries that are not signed up to the Hague Convention often still request a document has an apostille although you may find they also request the document is attested by the embassy. Examples of some Non-Member states who request further legalisation for the use of documents are the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.
There are essentially four different types of documents which can be issued with an apostille certificate. These documents are:
- Court Documents
- Administrative Documents
- Notarial Acts or Solicitor signed documents
- Official Certificates
The apostille is placed onto many different types of documents for different purposes. For example, university certificates and transcripts are often required when seeking employment outside of the UK. Company documents are legalised when conducting international business and normally includes the certificates of incorporation and articles of association. Registering the birth of a child to obtain dual nationality may involve legalising birth certificates. These are just a few of the reasons people request an apostille.
Depending on what the document is that needs legalising, the apostille can be issued on copies as well as original documents. Documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates and any other documents with official signatures on have to be processed using the original document. Copies of the documents with the apostille on them are not accepted as the signature on the documents will not be classed as the original. Documents such as academic certificates, transcripts and employment letters can all have the apostille placed on copied documents. Despite this, before the document can be sent off to gain the apostille these documents must be officially certified by a solicitor or a notary public. If they are not they will be rejected from being able to gain the apostille.
Why you may need Embassy Legalisation
Embassy legalisation, or attestation as it is commonly referred to, is required by states that are not part of the Hague Convention. Often these states will still ask for the apostille to be provided on the document in addition to obtaining legalisation from the relevant embassy. Embassies will add their own certificates, adhesive stamps, ink stamps or other documentation.
Attesting documents with embassies is time consuming and can be complicated. Each embassy has its own legalisation process and most do not offer a same day service. When countries sign up to The Hague Convention attesting documents at the embassy is no longer necessary. Using an embassy attestation service can make the process considerably easier.