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What Is An Apostille, And How Do I Apostille Documents?

6 min read

What Is An Apostille, And How Do I Apostille Documents?

If you want to obtain residency in a new country or to work, marry, adopt a child, give power of attorney, or even start a business in a different country (just to name a few), you must get your paperwork and/or documents apostilled, but only if this new country of yours requires these documents to be apostilled.

Apostille is a French word which means certification. An apostille is an authentication certification that is attached to a document to verify its authenticity and allow it to be recognized in a foreign country. This process is required for various documents, such as birth or death certificates, diplomas, and certifications.

To apostille documents, individuals must first request copies of the documents they need to be authenticated by the issuing authorities. Next, they must take the copies to a notary who will verify their authenticity and attach their signature and stamp to the document.

In the case of our clients at Expat Money, all documents required for services such as a residence permit, a passport in a new country, showing your marriage certificate for a pensionado visa, all of these documents must be verified as true, and this is what happens when they get apostilled.

In this article, we'll talk about how that process is done, which countries use this system and what documents you can apostille.

 

An apostille is a specific form of legalizatio

An apostille is a specific form of legalization

PRELIMINARIES

It's important to note that the apostille process is a requirement for certain legal procedures, such as marriage or adoption in a foreign country. Failure to properly authenticate documents can result in delays or rejection of applications.

Once notarized, the documents can be sent to the appropriate place for apostille, usually a government office or embassy. The individual must pay a fee for this service, which varies depending on the type and number of documents being apostilled.

 

NOTARIZATION, LEGALIZATION AND APOSTILLE

These terms are often mixed up, so let's clarify each of them.

Notarization signifies that a notary public has testified that you signed a document. They will need to verify your identity, make you declare that all data and facts contained in the document are correct and truthful, and finally sign it. Then, the notary will sign and stamp. The notarization does not guarantee the veracity of the given information; it just means an official was told the information contained is truthful.  

Legalization means that an authenticated document has gone through all the required processes to be valid in another country. In short, a document is legalized if an official authority issued it, the format is accurate, and the signature or stamp is bona fide (in good faith, i.e. original). Like notarized documents, the contents might not be correct.

Last but, for sure, not least, in our preliminaries section, 

An apostille is a specific form of legalization; namely, the document in question is issued in the country of origin so that it becomes suitable for use in a foreign country. For example, if your medical diploma was issued in the US and you want to work as a doctor in another country, it must be stamped in the US. Surprisingly, this procedure is more straightforward than legalization because you will not need to take any additional steps once your documents are apostilled. Moreover, this term only applies to countries that are part of the Hague Convention of 1961.

 

To apostille documents, individuals must first request copies of the documents they need to be authenticated by the issuing authorities

To apostille documents, individuals must first request copies of the documents they need to be authenticated by the issuing authorities

THE HAGUE CONVENTION

In the past, the process of authenticating documents for abroad activities was much more tedious. Namely, the proper institutions of the country of origin and the embassy or consulate of the destined country would certify that the appropriate authority issued the document and it had validity in the country of origin.

For this reason, over 100 countries signed the Hague Convention on October 5th, 1961. With that implied, the countries involved would only require a stamp (the apostille) for the document in question. For the sake of simplicity, we call member countries "Hague countries." Consequently, the countries outside the Convention are called "non-Hague countries."

Fortunately, the convenience of the apostille process has increased in recent years, with some authorities now accepting electronic copies of documents for authentication. This makes it easier for individuals to get their documents apostilled without needing physical copies or visits to government offices.

 

WHAT DATA DOES THE APOSTILLE INCLUDE, AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Having a standardized document makes your life easier, so you will notice the same structure:

  1. Country (of origin).
  2. This public document has been signed by (insert name of the individual).
  3. Acting in the capacity of (e.g. notary public).
  4. Bears the seal/stamp of (e.g. the notary public in question).
  5. At (insert city, state).
  6. The (insert date).
  7. By (insert competent person).
  8. Apostille certificate number.
  9. Seal/stamp.
  10. Signature of the representative of the issuing authority.

As a result, you do not fill in any of this information. In many cases, at the bottom of the document, you might see a clarifying paragraph stating that it is not to be used in the country of origin and does not guarantee its authenticity. In short, just a reminder.

If you are doing this remotely, the charge for this service is between $150 and $200 USD a document, which is considerably less expensive than getting on an airplane and flying across the country (or world) to do it in person.

If you are in your home country, the cost is considerably less, so it is advisable to have all documents apostilled before leaving the country.

 

Once notarized, the documents can be sent to the appropriate place for apostille, usually a government office or embassy.

Once notarized, the documents can be sent to the appropriate place for apostille, usually a government office or embassy.

SIGNATORY COUNTRIES TO THE HAGUE CONVENTION

Keep in mind that the list changes as new countries may join or defect in the future. It is a good practice to check the official website of the Hague Convention:

 

Albania

Andorra

Antigua & Barbuda

Argentina

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bahamas

Bahrain

Barbados

Belarus

Belgium

Belize

Bolivia

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Botswana

Brazil

Brunei

Bulgaria

Burundi

Cabo Verde

Chile

Colombia

Cook Islands

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cyprus
Czech Republic

Denmark

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

Estonia

Eswatini

Fiji

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Greece

Grenada

Guatemala

Guyana

Honduras

Hong Kong

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Jamaica

Japan

Kazakhstan Korea, Republic of

Kosovo

Kyrgyzstan

Latvia

Lesotho

Liberia

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macau

Malawi

Malta

Marshall Islands

Mauritius

Mexico

Moldova

Monaco

Mongolia

Montenegro

Morocco

Namibia

Netherlands New Zealand
Nicaragua

North Macedonia

Norway

Oman

Palau

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russian Federation

Saint Kitts & Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

Samoa

San Marino

São Tomé & Principe

Saudi Arabia

Serbia Seychelles

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia South Africa

Spain

Suriname

Sweden

Switzerland

Tajikistan

Tonga

Trinidad & Tobago

Tunisia

Türkiye

Ukraine

United Kingdom

United States of America

Uruguay

Uzbekistan

Vanuatu

Venezuela China Canada

 

BUT HOW DO I APOSTILLE?

In summary, an apostille is an authentication certification that verifies the authenticity of a document for use in a foreign country. To get a document apostilled, individuals must request copies from the issuing authorities, have them notarized, and pay a fee to have them apostilled. It's important to fulfill this requirement for legal procedures and take advantage of the convenience of electronic authentication when available.

In the US or outside the US, by hiring a notarizing agent, the process is as follows:

  1. Complete an order form stating what document you want to apostille.
  2. Send the form and the original copy certified by the government (that is, it was signed by a County Clerk or a State Registrar) to the agency or notary of your choice.
  3. Receive your apostilled document.

Note that you must notarize each document before a notary public, who will be commissioned through the county or the state. In the first case, you will need to get it certified by a clerk of court in the notary public's county and then by the secretary of state where the document was notarized. In the second case, however, you will only need to get it certified by the secretary of state where it was notarized.

 

Birth Certificate

Illustrative Image of one of the Documents you can apostille

HOW DO I APOSTILLE FOR NON-HAGUE COUNTRIES?

As mentioned before, it is a more complicated process, but it is still possible to certify your documents. If you are from the US, you might need to get:

  • The U.S State Certification (by a Secretary of State Office);
  • An Embassy or Consulate;
  • Or the U.S Department of State Certification


TO AUTHENTICATE YOUR DOCUMENT

The U.S Department of State must certify the documents. They must be original, but dates must be listed chronologically. If they are in a foreign language, an English translation made by a certified translator must be notarized.

 

What Documents Can I Apostille?

Adoption

Affidavit to Amend

Articles of Incorporation

Authorization Letter

Background Checks (FBI, Police, etc.)

Birth Certificates

Business Formation

Certificate of Free Sale (Certificate for Export or Certificate to Foreign Governments)

Certificate of Formation (Articles of Organization)

Certificate of Good Standing (Certification of Compliance / Certificate of Existence / Certificate of Fact)

Certificate of Incorporation

Certificate of Incumbency (Corporate Resolution)

 Certificate of Insurance

Certificate of Naturalization

Certificate of Origin (Commercial Invoice)

Children's Travel Consent Letter

DD Form 214

Death Certificate

Divorce Decree (Certificate of Dissolution or Divorce Certificate)

Driver's License

Employment Verification

FBI Background Checks (Criminal Records)

International Real Estate

IRS Forms

Marriage Certificates

Offshore Banking

Passports

Patent and Trademark (USPTO)

Petition for Name Change

Power of Attorney

Single Status

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Transportation of the Deceased

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)

US Federal Court – District Court (DOJ)

Vehicle Title

Will and Testament

     

 

CONCLUSION

An apostille is an official certificate which legalizes official and copied documents in many countries which accept the apostille stamp.

There are four different types of official documents which can use an apostille certificate they are;

  • Court documents
  • Administrative documents
  • Notarial acts or solicitor-signed documents
  • Official certificates

Once an apostille certificate is issued, it can be used officially in a foreign country.

 


WORK WITH ME

I help my clients to move offshore for freedom, privacy and autonomy by focusing on the immigration, legal, and tax issues that you will face when becoming an expat. If you would like to work one-on-one with me on getting out of your home country (or setting up a Plan-B location), then read this important letter and fill in an application form to become a Private Client. My fees are not cheap; however, I can assure you that when you work with a professional firm like ours, the results will be worth it.

 

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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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