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How To Apostille Documents From Canada

8 min read

How To Apostille Documents From Canada

When relocating or working abroad, expats often encounter the challenge of ensuring their official paperwork holds international recognition. This is where the apostille becomes indispensable. An apostille, in line with the Hague Convention of 1961, serves as a form of authentication for documents. It simplifies the process of validating documents across member countries of the convention. Essentially, an apostille is a specialized seal affixed by an authorized entity to confirm the legitimacy of a document, enabling its acceptance in all Hague Convention member countries without further legalization.

The Hague Apostille Convention facilitates document verification across borders by eliminating the requirement for embassy or consular legalization, provided that both the issuing and receiving countries sign the Convention. This system encompasses 126 countries, ensuring widespread recognition of apostilled documents.

For expats dealing with documents issued in Canada, it’s important to understand how to obtain an apostille for various documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, educational degrees, or business documents. This ensures that your paperwork is legally recognized in other Hague Convention countries.

As of January 11, 2024, Canada joined the Apostille Convention, streamlining the document verification process for the international use of Canadian documents. With this change, documents intended for use in other member countries no longer need to go through the previous legalization process. Instead, a recognized Canadian authority will issue an apostille certificate, typically attached as an "allonge" to the original document, confirming its authenticity for international use.

 

Related content: What Is An Apostille, And How Do I Apostille Documents?

 

Victoria in British Columbia, Canada

Victoria in British Columbia, Canada

WHAT DOCUMENTS CAN BE APOSTILLED IN CANADA?

Here’s a look at the types of documents typically involved in the authentication and legalization process:

  • Birth, Marriage, and Death Certificates: These are often issued by provincial vital statistics agencies and are frequently required for personal matters abroad.

  • Educational Documents: Degrees, diplomas, and transcripts from educational institutions may need to be recognized by foreign institutions or employers.

  • Corporate Documents: For international business dealings, documents like articles of incorporation, business licenses, and other related paperwork might need authentication.

  • Legal Papers: Documents such as powers of attorney, wills, affidavits, and court documents may need to be authenticated for legal proceedings in other countries.

  • Certificates of Origin and Export Documents: These are crucial for international trade.

  • Criminal Record Checks: Required for those moving abroad or applying for visas in foreign countries.

Not all countries require an apostille for Canadian documents; specific requirements can vary. For instance, if you plan to marry overseas, you might need to provide a declaration instead of a certificate of non-impediment to marriage. To ascertain the precise requirements, it is advisable to contact either the requesting entity or the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country where the document will be used. Should you find that your document needs to be authenticated, you can explore alternatives and procedures provided by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.

When seeking to authenticate documents with an apostille in Canada, the location where your documents were issued or notarized dictates where they need to be sent. This process involves different authorities depending on the document's origin.

 

WHERE TO SEND YOUR DOCUMENTS TO GET APOSTILLED 

Knowing the correct destination for your paperwork is essential when you need to authenticate documents for international use under the Hague Apostille Convention. Depending on the origin or notarization of your documents, you will send them either to Global Affairs Canada or to designated provincial authorities. This guide will help you understand where to send your documents to get them properly apostilled and recognized across borders.

 

GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA

For documents issued by the Government of Canada or documents issued or notarized in specific provinces and territories, you need to send them to Global Affairs Canada. This includes documents from:

  • Manitoba

  • New Brunswick

  • Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Northwest Territories

  • Nova Scotia

  • Nunavut

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Yukon

If your document was notarized in any of these provinces or territories, regardless of where it was originally issued, it must be sent to Global Affairs Canada for the apostille. This also applies to some documents released by the Canadian government that require notarization before they can be authenticated.

 

PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES WITH JURISDICTION 

Certain provinces have their own competent authorities that provide apostilles for documents issued or notarized within their borders. These provinces include:

  • British Columbia

  • Alberta

  • Quebec

  • Saskatchewan

  • Ontario

If your document was issued or notarized in any of these provinces, it should be sent to the respective provincial authority for authentication. Note that a document can only be authenticated in British Columbia and Quebec if the original document was issued within the respective province.

Documents notarized in Alberta, Ontario, or Saskatchewan must be sent to the respective authorities in these provinces for an apostille, regardless of their place of issue.

 

To authenticate documents in languages other than English or French, a certified translation will be required. A Canadian notary fluent in both the original language of the document and English or French can certify the accuracy of the translation

To authenticate documents in languages other than English or French, a certified translation will be required. A Canadian notary fluent in both the original language of the document and English or French can certify the accuracy of the translation

TRANSLATE YOUR DOCUMENT

If you need to authenticate documents that contain text in a language other than English or French, a certified translation is required, except in specific cases outlined below. You have two main options for obtaining a certified translation.

 

TRANSLATION BY A QUALIFIED TRANSLATOR

To ensure that your translations are recognized for authentication purposes, it is important to obtain them from a translator who is a member of a recognized provincial translation association. The Canadian Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters Council maintains a list of accredited provincial translation associations. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek certification from a member of these associations.

 

ATTESTATION BY A NOTARY PUBLIC

Alternatively, a Canadian notary public who is fluent in both the original document’s language and either English or French can attest to the accuracy of the translation. In this case, ensure that the notary public includes a declaration in their attestation confirming:

  - Their proficiency in both languages.

  - The accuracy of the translation.

 

EXCEPTIONS TO TRANSLATION REQUIREMENTS

  • University Diplomas: Diplomas issued by Canadian universities in Greek or Latin do not require a translation.

  • Proof of Life Documents: If written in a foreign language, documents such as life certificates related to foreign pension benefits do not require translation if the document text is less than half a page long and explicitly stated as a proof of life document on the application form. Any content exceeding this length must be translated following the guidelines above.

  • In some cases, an additional attestation by a separate translator might be needed, especially if the document is to be used in a country that requires such an approach. If required, a Canadian notary public must sign and seal the affidavit to be eligible for authentication. Always verify the specific requirements of the destination country or the institution requesting your document to ensure all prerequisites are met.

 

It is important to remember that Global Affairs Canada does not offer expedited services. Therefore, always try to submit your request as early as possible to avoid disrupting your strategic schedule

It is important to remember that Global Affairs Canada does not offer expedited services. Therefore, always try to submit your request as early as possible to avoid disrupting your strategic schedule

THE REASONS YOUR DOCUMENT CAN’T BE AUTHENTICATED

If you submit a document for authentication that cannot be validated, you will receive a written notice explaining the reasons. Here are the common reasons why a document may not be eligible for authentication:

  • Photocopies and Unsigned Documents: Documents that are merely photocopies or lack an original signature or seal are not authenticable.

  • Unverifiable Signatures or Seals: If the signatures or seals on the document cannot be verified, the document cannot be authenticated.

  • Foreign Documents: Only Canadian documents can be authenticated. Documents of foreign origin are outside the scope of authentication services provided.

  • Documents from Unrecognized Institutions: Documents issued by educational institutions that are not recognized or accredited are not eligible for authentication.

  • Altered Documents: Documents that have been glued, laminated, or otherwise materially altered pose challenges for authentication. The presence of any material that complicates the application of a stamp or seal can also prevent authentication.

  • Religious Documents: Documents such as baptismal certificates, religious marriage certificates, or other documents issued by religious institutions cannot be authenticated.

  • Concerns About Authenticity or Legitimacy: If there are doubts regarding the document's authenticity or the notarial act, or if the document violates the policies, authentication may be denied.

  • Potential for Misuse: In case there are doubts that the document or the authentication procedure might be exploited for fraudulent, illegal, or deceitful purposes, the authentication of the document will not be provided.

If your document falls into any of these categories, it will be declined for authentication, and you may be directed to the appropriate authority for further action. To avoid these issues, always ensure your documents meet all the criteria before submitting them for authentication.

 

FEES AND PROCESSING TIMES

Global Affairs Canada's services are free, so no fees are associated with document authentication.

 

PROCESSING TIMES

As of March 1, 2024, the processing time for document authentication is approximately three months from the date the request is received at Global Affairs Canada. You should also allow up to five business days for delivery. This timeframe is an average and can vary depending on the complexity and nature of the requests, operational factors, and current workload. 

 

NO EXPEDITED SERVICES

Global Affairs Canada does not offer expedited services. So, the best strategy is to submit your request as early as possible to manage your deadlines effectively. If you face extraordinary and urgent circumstances—typically unexpected events beyond your control that prevent waiting the standard processing time—you can contact the Office to discuss the possibility of expediting your request. However, Global Affairs Canada cannot consider your request for emergency processing if you have access to alternative authentication methods.

 

GET YOUR DOCUMENT NOTARIZED IF NEEDED

Before submitting your document for authentication by Global Affairs Canada, it's crucial to determine whether it needs to be notarized. A notarized copy may be acceptable if the original document cannot be authenticated directly. You can check all the required documents from here.

If you require the services of a notary public in Canada, you can choose any notary whose signature is recognized by Global Affairs Canada. However, if the notary's signature is not recognized, they can register with Global Affairs Canada by providing a specimen of their signature.

The notarization process involves the notary signing and sealing your document and possibly preparing a separate certificate to attach to your document. When notarizing, the notary must use ink to handwrite their signature and apply a stamp or seal that includes their full name as it appears on their certificate of appointment, along with the province or territory of their appointment. They must also specify the act they performed (e.g., certifying a true copy), the date of notarization, and the expiration date of their appointment as a notary, if applicable.

 

Check with the nearest Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate to see if they can authenticate your documents. If not, send them to the office in Ottawa

Check with the nearest Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate to see if they can authenticate your documents. If not, send them to the office in Ottawa

SEND YOUR DOCUMENT

The Authentication Services Section does not provide in-person service. You may submit your authentication request by mail or courier or drop it off at Global Affairs Canada’s Distribution Centre. Regardless of your chosen method, your request will be processed within the current processing times and returned to the address indicated on application form EXT2165.

 

SENDING YOUR REQUEST BY MAIL OR COURIER

Before you send your documents to Global Affairs Canada for authentication, double-check that authentication is required. For clear instructions on whether to send your documents elsewhere, visit the website of the organization where you will be submitting them.

 

FOR SUBMISSIONS WITHIN CANADA

  • Include the authentication request form

  • Attach all documents required for authentication.

  • To ensure your request is processed promptly, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope or a prepaid courier shipping label.

Send your documents to Global Affairs Canada, Authentication Services Section (JLAC), 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2, Canada.

 

FOR SUBMISSIONS FROM OUTSIDE CANADA

Check with the nearest Canadian embassy, high commission, or consulate to see if they can authenticate your documents. If not, documents should be mailed to the Ottawa office.

 

IN-PERSON DROP-OFF

If you choose to drop off your request at the Distribution Centre, you must be aware that it will be processed according to the current processing times. The Authentication Services Section does not offer in-person service, and the Distribution Centre staff cannot provide service details or status updates.

The drop-off location is Lester B. Pearson Building, 125 Sussex Drive, King Edward entrance, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2.

 

RETURNING YOUR DOCUMENTS

Once your documents have been processed, they will be returned by mail or, if you provided a prepaid label or envelope, by courier (note that courier waybills with account numbers are not accepted). For mail returns, you must include a self-addressed stamped envelope. On request, Global Affairs Canada offers a service to send your authenticated documents to an embassy, high commission, or consulate in Ottawa. 

 

Canada's accession to the Hague Apostille Convention on January 11, 2024, has simplified and expedited the process of certifying documents for international use, eliminating the need for multiple legalizations

Canada's accession to the Hague Apostille Convention on January 11, 2024, has simplified and expedited the process of certifying documents for international use, eliminating the need for multiple legalizations

CONCLUSION

Knowing how to apostille documents from Canada is important, especially for those dealing with international affairs or living abroad. Fortunately, Canada's accession to the Hague Apostille Convention on January 11, 2024, has made the process of certifying documents for international use much simpler and streamlined, eliminating the need for multiple legalizations. This means that whether you need to apostille personal, educational, legal, or business documents, knowing where and how to submit them for apostille is crucial to ensure that they are recognized and accepted in the 104 countries participating in the Convention.

To obtain an apostille, you must follow several steps, including determining if your document needs to be notarized, selecting the correct authority for submission (either Global Affairs Canada or a provincial authority), and ensuring that all requirements are met, including any necessary translations. Handling your documents clearly, accurately, and promptly is essential because any errors or omissions can delay or reject your apostille application.

To ensure a smooth and efficient process, it is advisable to follow the guidelines and understand the specific requirements for each document type. Always check the most up-to-date procedures and processing times and consider all available options within the authentication framework set by Global Affairs Canada. Adopting a proactive strategy may help you handle the difficulties of document authentication more confidently and easily.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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