An Apostille (pronounced “ah-po-steel”) is a French word meaning certification.
An Apostille is simply the name for a specialized certificate, issued by the Secretary of State. The Apostille is attached to your original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so it will be accepted in one of the other countries who are members of the Hague Apostille Conventiom.
In the United States, all 50 states and the Federal Government (US Department of State – Office of Authentication) can issue an Apostille.
In 1961, many countries joined together to create a simplified method of “legalizing” documents for universal recognition. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague Convention, adopted a document referred to as an Apostille that would be recognized by all member countries.
Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.
The Apostille Convention provides the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Documents destined for use in participating countries and their territories should be certified by one of the officials in the jurisdiction in which the document has been executed.
The Apostille Convention requires that all Apostille’s be numbered consecutively, with individual numbers applied to each Apostille issued. The recognized standard Apostille contains a seal and 10 mandatory references: name of country from which the document emanates, name of person signing the document, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, in the case of unsigned documents, the name of the authority that has affixed the seal or stamp, place of certification date of certification, the authority issuing the certificate, number of certificate, seal or stamp of authority issuing certificate and signature of authority issuing certificate.
Prior to the introduction of Apostille certificates the burden on international courts and authorities to judge foreign documents as authentic was quite considerable. On the October 5, 1961 the Hague Convention abolished the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents. The Convention reduces all of the formalities of legalisation to the simple delivery of a certificate in a prescribed form, entitled “Apostille”, by the authorities of the State where the document originates. This certificate, placed on the document, is dated, numbered and registered. The verification of its registration can be carried out without difficulty by means of a simple request for information addressed to the authority which delivered the certificate.
Only designated “Competent Authorities” are authorized to issue Apostille Certificates in countries participating in the Hague Convention. In the USA the Secretary or Department of State in each of the 50 states and the US Department of State are the designated “Competent Authorities” that are authorized to issue an Apostille Certificate.
An Apostille does not certify the content of the underlying public document. An Apostille does not relate in any way to the content of the underlying public document. While the public nature of the document itself may imply that its content is true and correct, an Apostille does not enhance, or add any legal significance to, the legal effect that the signature and / or seal would produce without an Apostille. The effect of an Apostille is limited. It only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document. It does so by certifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity in which the person signing the document acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears.
Legalization is the process of authenticating foreign public documents through a country’s Embassy or Consulate. This process is still used for countries that are not members of the Hague Convention and therefore do not recognize Apostilles. Apostillisation has the same effect as Legalization but is the result of the simplified process established by the Hague Convention and recognized by countries that are members of the convention.
The Embassy Legalization of a document is usually used in countries that are NOT members of the Hague Convention Apostille. If you need to get an Embassy Legalization for your document to take it into another country or present it at a consulate or embassy, we offer you this additional service.
We are certified to get Apostilles and/or Embassy Legalizations on your documents. Our services allow you to use your documents overseas or at any Consulate/Embassy.
The purpose of document authentication is to certify the validity of the signature on a legal document, the authority of the signature on the document and identify the stamp or seal on said document.
Anyone traveling or moving to another country. Examples may be:
- Individuals or families relocating due to a job.
- Corporations opening new branches or offices in other countries.
- Teachers who will be teaching ESL in foreign countries.
- Individuals who need to present US issued documents to Government Authorities in another country.
The types of documents that need certification vary depending upon the Embassy requirements of the host country. Common examples of documents that require authentication/apostille include:
- Birth, Marriage and Divorce Certificates
- Background Checks
- Educational Documents
- Incorporation or Operational Documents for Corporations
- Personal or Corporate legal documents
Countries Party to the Hague Convention of 1961 (Apostille Process)
|Albania||Andorra||Antigua & Barbuda||Argentina||Armenia|
|Brunei Darussalam||Bulgaria||China (Hong Kong)||China (Macao)||Colombia|
|Cook Island||Croatia||Cyprus||Czech Republic||Denmark|
|Dominica||Dominican Republic||Ecuador||El Salvador||Estonia|
|Fiji||Finland||France||FYR of Macedonia||Georgia|
|Japan||Kazakhstan||Korea, Republic of||Latvia||Lesotho|
|Saint Kitts & Nevis||Saint Lucia||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Samoa||San Marino|
|Sao Tome & Principe||Serbia||Seychelles||Slovakia||Slovenia|
|Switzerland||Tonga||Trinidad & Tobago||Turkey||Ukraine|
Countries Not Party to the Hague Convention (Authentication Process)
|Chile||China||Congo Republic||Congo Democratic||Costa Rica|
|Rwanda||Saudi Arabia||Senegal||Sierra Leone||Singapore|
A document may require an Apostille or Authentication certification depending on the country in which it needs to be submitted. Most countries in the world are divided into two categories. Countries which are signatories to the Hague Convention require the Apostille Seal. Countries which are not part of the Hague Convention require documents to follow the Authentication Process.
The certifications are obtained by following the State and/or the Federal authentication process. The documents are submitted in person to the required Departments and Foreign Embassies (where applicable) which are located in Washington DC. For Embassies and authorities located outside of Washington DC, we mail documents to the relevant offices.
Yes, we value our clients' confidentiality. Your information will always be handled in a safe and secure manner.
No, we will prepare the application form for the US State Department on your behalf.
The time to get documents processed differs based on the type of documents and the country the documents are to be used in (whether they require an apostille or authentication). The timelines quoted are estimates and there could be delays based on several factors which include: processing times at the Embassies and Government Departments, weather related closings, mail or shipping delays, etc.
- Adoption Documents
- Bank Letter
- Bills of Sale
- Birth Certificate
- Car Titles
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Death Certificate
- Divorce Decree
- FBI Background Check
- Identity Documents or Passports
- Marriage Certificate
- Police Records
- Power of Attorney
- State Background Checks
- School Diploma(s) / Transcript(s)
- Single Proof (to marry)
- University Degrees
- And More...
- Articles of Incorporation
- Certificate of Amendment
- Certificate of Good Standing
- Certificate of Incumbency
- Certificate of Origin
- Commercial Invoice
- FDA Certificate
- Free Sale Certificate
- General Agreements
- IRS Form 6166
- ISO Certificate
- Letter of Invitation
- Patents / Assignments
- Pharmaceutical Certificates
- References and Job Certifications
- And More...
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