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What is an Apostille?
An Apostille (Apostil) is a certificate, issued by a regulatory agency, which can be used to prove the authenticity of a notary public’s signature and/or seal or any other public document (issued by a government authority). The concept comes from The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. This treaty, as its title implies, was drawn up to simplify the process of certifying foreign public documents (though it does not apply to diplomatic and commercial documents).
If a document is issued in one of the participating countries and needs to be used in another participating country, a notary public’s certification is all that is needed to permit that document to be used in the other country, provided that the Notary Public has certification by Apostille.
Each participating country designates the people or agencies with authority to issue Apostille certification (for instance in the United States, it is usually the Secretary of State where the Notary Public practices in).
Can I get Apostille in Canada?
No. Apostille certificates can only be issued in countries that have signed and ratified the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. Canada was not a signatory to this Convention, and therefore Apostille certification is not possible for Canadian public documents. Find out here what you can do instead of Apostil.
The primary federal authority designated to carry the authentication process out in Canada is the Authentication and Service of Documents Section (JLAC) of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Can I get Apostille in United States?
Yes, you can. United states have signed and ratified the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. You can obtain Apostille for your official notarized documents or certificate of good standing for your company and many other documents.
If your document is not issued from a state or government authority you can notarize it by fisrt going to a public notaryand then you obtain the Apostille. If you are an expat living abroad you may get your document notarized by appearing in person at the closest American Embassy. Call ahead to ensure you have all of the documents ready before your visit.
The Apostille in US is issued by the Secretary of State. The apostille may be obtained by going to the Secretary of State’s office in person or sending your notarized document to your Secretary of State’s office. Be sure to check your Secretary of States website for the proper procedure to have your document apostilled as details differ from state to state. If you go in person you may have your document apostilled and returned to you in the same day. If you mail in your documents this process will take 7-30 days and cost you around $30USD depending on the state and method of postage.
If you are in a hurry or simply don´t like all the buraucracy you can use a service provider to help you with the process. Some of our clients have recommended these agents however we have not worked with them directly and this is not our endorsement for them: apostilla.com and nynotaryforyou.com. You can also use Google to search for other similar service providers. Usually, these service providers can do everything on your behalf and even ship the documents worldwide. You just need to send them the original documents that need Apostille and pay for the service.
What if my country hasn’t signed the Apostille convention?
If you home country haven’t signed the Hague convention and does not have Apostille certification, public documents must undergo a three step process of 1. Notarization, 2. Authentication, and 3. Legalization in order to be usable in foreign countries. Notarization, Authentication, and then Legalization is a process designed to relieve foreign authorities from the burden of having to verify the authenticity of the documents with which they are presented.
In other words, a person who wants to use a public document outside of his/her home country which hasn’t signed the Hague convention, must have some official proof that the document is an authentically legal document before he or she presents it to a foreign court or other authority. The authentication process is carried out by a designated government authority. The rules of authentication and legalization vary depending on the country and the situation.
You should check with the consulate or embassy of the country you are visiting and find out what documents you need to bring with you and what kind of authentication they require.
You should also find out whether the country requires a particular document to be translated into it the country’s officiallanguage, in which case you will have to notarize a translated version of the document and get that translated document authenticated and legalized as well.
You should also, find out, from the consulate or embassy, whether the country requires authentication by a federal or provincial authority. Your home government authority will then certify the authenticity of the notary public’s seal and signature by comparing the seal and signature to the seal and signature that they have on file for that particular notary public.
The authority will issue a certificate of authentication for the document, which is attached to the document to prove that the notarization is genuine. Next, comes the process of legalization. You must present the authenticated document to the consulate or embassy of the country where you intend to use the document, along with the certificate of authentication, and any such application forms and proofs of identity as the consulate or embassy may require. The consulate or embassy certifies its recognition of the fact that the document is an authentic, usable legal document, it is eligible for use in that country.
Once all is the steps are completed, you will have the original document, the certificate of authentication, and the certificate of legalization. All of these must be in your possession for the document to be usable in the country to which you are traveling.