Apostille convention

Apostille convention
Apostille Convention
Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents
  State parties to the convention (members of the HCCH)
  State parties to the convention (non-members of the HCCH)
Signed 5 October 1961
Location The Netherlands
Effective 14 January 1965
Condition ratification by 3 states[1]
Parties 97
Depositary Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands)
Languages French (prevailing in case of divergence)
and English

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention, or the Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille (French: certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law.



Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention.[2] A list of these authorities is maintained by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Examples of designated authorities are embassies, ministries, courts or (local) governments. For example, in the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are usually competent authorities. In the United Kingdom, all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.[3]

To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be issued or certified by an officer recognised by the authority that will issue the apostille. For example, in the US state of Vermont, the Secretary of State maintains specimen signatures of all notaries public, so documents that have been notarised are eligible for apostilles.[4] Likewise, courts in the Netherlands are eligible of placing an apostille on all municipal civil status documents directly. In some cases, intermediate certifications may be required in the country where the document originates before it will be eligible for an apostille. For example, in New York City, the Office of Vital Records (which issues, among other things, birth certificates) is not directly recognised by the New York Secretary of State.[5] As a consequence, the signature of the City Clerk must be certified by the County Clerk of New York County to make the birth certificate eligible for an apostille.[6][7]

Information included in an apostille

An apostille issued by Norwegian authorities.

The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form consisting of 10 numbered standard fields. On the top is the text APOSTILLE, under which the text Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961 (English: Hague Convention of 5 October 1961) is placed. In the numbered fields the following information is added:

  1. Country ... [country name]
    This public document
  2. has been signed by ... [name]
  3. acting in the capacity of ... [function]
  4. bears the seal/stamp of ... [authority]
  5. at ... [location]
  6. the ... [date]
  7. by ... [name]
  8. No ... [apostille registration number]
  9. Seal/stamp ... [of the authority giving the apostille]
  10. Signature ... [signature of authority giving the apostille]

The information can be placed on the (back of the) document itself, or attached to the document as an allonge.

Eligible documents

Four types of documents are mentioned in the convention:[1]

  • court documents
  • administrative documents (e.g. civil status documents)
  • notarial acts
  • official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

Procedure for non-states parties (Legalization)

States that have not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other's public documents, but in practice this is infrequent. When such a convention is lacking, as is normally the case, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated and then by the foreign ministry of the government where the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate. In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country. For example, as a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa or by a consular official abroad and subsequently by the relevant government office or consulate of the receiving state.

Apostille vs. Legalization
An Apostille of the Hague issued by the State of Alabama.  
As a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified twice: at the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and subsequently by the consulate of the receiving state (in this case, the Netherlands)  

States parties

The convention is in force for all members of the European Union and all but 10 members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The next countries to accede to the convention are Kyrgyzstan, Costa Rica and Oman, for which the treaty will enter into force on 31 July, 14 December 2011 and 30 January 2012 respectively.

State Entry into Force Apostille not
recognized in
 Albania 02004-05-09 May 9, 2004 Belgium, Germany,
Greece, Italy and Spain
 Andorra 01996-12-31 December 31, 1996
 Antigua and Barbuda 01981-11-01 November 1, 1981
 Argentina 01988-02-18 February 18, 1988
 Armenia 01994-10-14 October 14, 1994
 Australia 01995-03-16 March 16, 1995
 Austria 01968-01-13 January 13, 1968
 Azerbaijan 02005-03-02 March 2, 2005 Germany
 Bahamas 01973-07-10 July 10, 1973
 Barbados 01966-11-30 November 30, 1966
 Belarus 01992-05-31 May 31, 1992
 Belgium 01973-02-09 February 9, 1973
 Belize 01993-04-11 April 11, 1993
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 01992-03-06 March 6, 1992
 Botswana 01966-09-30 September 30, 1966
 Brunei 01987-12-03 December 3, 1987
 Bulgaria 02001-04-29 April 29, 2001
 Cape Verde 02010-02-13 February 13, 2010
 Colombia 02001-01-30 January 30, 2001
 Cook Islands 02005-04-30 April 30, 2005
 Costa Rica 02011-12-14 December 14, 2011
 Croatia 01991-12-08 December 8, 1991
 Cyprus 01973-04-30 April 30, 1973
 Czech Republic 01999-03-16 March 16, 1999
 Kingdom of Denmark 02006-12-26 December 26, 2006 does not apply for Greenland
and the Faroe Islands
 Dominica 01978-11-03 November 3, 1978
 Dominican Republic 02009-08-30 August 30, 2009 Austria, Belgium,Germany
and the Netherlands
 Ecuador 02005-04-02 April 2, 2005
 El Salvador 01996-05-31 May 31, 1996
 Estonia 02001-09-30 September 30, 2001
 Fiji 01970-10-10 October 10, 1970
 Finland 01986-08-26 August 26, 1986
 France 01965-01-24 January 24, 1965
 Georgia 02007-05-14 May 14, 2007 Greece
 Germany 01966-02-13 February 13, 1966
 Greece 01985-05-18 May 18, 1985
 Grenada 02002-04-07 April 7, 2002
 Honduras 02004-12-30 December 30, 2004
 Hong Kong 01965-04-25 April 25, 1965 The convention is still applicable to Hong Kong despite the
transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong on 01997-07-01 July 1, 1997.[8]
 Hungary 01973-01-18 January 18, 1973
 Iceland 02004-11-27 November 27, 2004
 India 02005-07-14 July 14, 2005 Germany
 Ireland 01999-03-09 March 9, 1999
 Israel 01978-08-14 August 14, 1978
 Italy 01978-02-11 February 11, 1978
 Japan 01970-07-27 July 27, 1970
 Kazakhstan 02001-01-30 January 30, 2001
 Kyrgyzstan 02011-07-31 July 31, 2011
 Latvia 01996-01-30 January 30, 1996
 Lesotho 01966-12-04 December 4, 1966
 Liberia 01996-02-08 February 8, 1996 Belgium, Germany
and the United States
 Liechtenstein 01972-09-17 September 17, 1972
 Lithuania 01997-07-19 July 19, 1997
 Luxembourg 01979-06-03 June 3, 1979
 Macau 01969-02-04 February 4, 1969 The convention is still applicable to Macau despite the
transfer of sovereignty over Macau on 01999-12-20 December 20, 1999.[8]
 Macedonia 01991-11-17 November 17, 1991
 Malawi 01967-12-02 December 2, 1967
 Malta 01968-03-03 March 3, 1968
 Marshall Islands 01992-08-14 August 14, 1992
 Mauritius 01968-03-12 March 12, 1968
 Mexico 01995-08-14 August 14, 1995
 Moldova 02007-03-16 March 16, 2007 Germany
 Monaco 02002-12-31 December 31, 2002
 Mongolia 02009-12-31 December 31, 2009 Austria, Belgium, Finland,
Germany and Greece
 Montenegro 02006-06-03 June 3, 2006
 Namibia 02001-01-30 January 30, 2001
 Netherlands 01965-10-08 October 8, 1965 Aruba, Curaçao,
Netherlands and Sint Maarten
 New Zealand 02001-11-22 November 22, 2001
 Niue 01999-03-02 March 2, 1999
 Norway 01983-07-29 July 29, 1983
 Oman 02012-01-30 January 30, 2012
 Panama 01991-08-04 August 4, 1991
 Peru 02010-09-30 September 30, 2010 Germany and Greece
 Poland 02005-08-14 August 14, 2005
 Portugal 01969-02-04 February 4, 1969
 Romania 02001-03-13 March 13, 2001
 Russia 01992-05-31 May 31, 1992
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 01994-12-14 December 14, 1994
 Saint Lucia 02002-07-31 July 31, 2002
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 01979-10-27 October 27, 1979
 Samoa 01999-09-13 September 13, 1999
 San Marino 01995-02-13 February 13, 1995
 São Tomé and Príncipe 02008-09-13 September 13, 2008
 Serbia 01992-04-27 April 27, 1992
 Seychelles 01979-03-31 March 31, 1979
 Slovakia 02002-02-18 February 18, 2002
 Slovenia 01991-06-25 June 25, 1991
 South Africa 01995-04-30 April 30, 1995
 South Korea 02007-07-14 July 14, 2007
 Spain 01978-09-25 September 25, 1978
 Suriname 01975-11-25 November 25, 1975
 Swaziland 01968-09-06 September 6, 1968
 Sweden 01999-05-01 May 1, 1999
 Switzerland 01973-03-11 March 11, 1973
 Tonga 01970-06-04 June 4, 1970
 Trinidad and Tobago 02000-07-14 July 14, 2000
 Turkey 01985-09-29 September 29, 1985
 Ukraine 02003-12-22 December 22, 2003
 United Kingdom 01965-01-24 January 24, 1965 including Crown Dependencies and
British Overseas Territories
 United States 01981-10-15 October 15, 1981
 Vanuatu 01980-07-30 July 30, 1980
 Venezuela 01999-03-16 March 16, 1999


The Apostille does not give information regarding the quality of the document, but certifies the signature (and the capacity of who placed it) and correctness of the seal/stamp on the document which must be certified. In 2005 The Hague Conference surveyed its members and produced the a report in December 2008 which expressed serious concerns about Diplomas and Degree certificates, titled "THE APPLICATION OF THE APOSTILLE CONVENTION TO DIPLOMAS INCLUDING THOSE ISSUED BY DIPLOMA MILLS". The possible abuse of the system was highlighted "Particularly troubling is the possible use of diploma mill qualifications to circumvent migration controls, possibly by potential terrorists." (page 5) The risk comes from the fact that the various government stamps give the document an air of authenticity without anyone having checked the underlying document. "An official looking certificate may be issued to a copy of a diploma mill qualification, and then subsequently issued with an Apostille, without anyone having ever verified the signature on, let alone the contents of, the diploma." (page 7) Further member states indicated "they would be obliged to issue an Apostille for certification of a certified copy of a diploma issued by a diploma mill". (page 15) The Hague Conference expressed concern as to whether this issue could impact the entire convention. "…the Apostille does not 'look through the certification' and does not relate to the diploma itself …. There is a clear risk that such practices may eventually undermine the effectiveness and therefore the successful operation of the Apostille Convention". (page 5)[9]

In February 2009 the Hague Conference decided to amend the wording on the Apostille to make it clear that no one was checking whether the document being attested was genuine or a fake. The new wording to be used was as follows. "This Apostille only certifies the signature, the capacity of the signer and the seal or stamp it bears. It does not certify the content of the document for which it was issued."[10]

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Apostille — Une apostille est un addendum en marge ou au bas d un écrit (type post scriptum). Le terme vient du bas latin postilla: note, explication. Le verbe apostiller , utilisé en terminologie juridique, découle du terme apostille. Droit Pour les pays… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Apostille — Parteien zum Apostille Übereinkommen Beitrittsländer (Mitglieder der HCCH) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • apostille — apostille, or appostille /apostsl/ L. Fr. An addition; a marginal note or observation. A standard certification provided under the Hague Convention of 1961 for purpose of authenticating documents for use in foreign countries + appostille, or… …   Black's law dictionary

  • apostille — apostille, or appostille /apostsl/ L. Fr. An addition; a marginal note or observation. A standard certification provided under the Hague Convention of 1961 for purpose of authenticating documents for use in foreign countries + appostille, or… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Apostille — An apostille, or postil, is properly a gloss on a scriptural text, particularly on a gospel text; however, it has come to mean an explanatory note on other writings. The word is also applied to a general commentary, and also to a homily or… …   Wikipedia

  • Haager Apostille — Im internationalen Rechtsverkehr bedürfen schriftliche Urkunden, Verträge und alle rechtserheblichen Schriftstücke zum Nachweis ihrer Echtheit der so genannten diplomatischen Beglaubigung oder Legalisation oder einer anderen Beglaubigungs oder… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents — The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents is one of a series of conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It was signed by the original signatories on October 5, 1961. It… …   Wikipedia

  • Notary public — An embossed foil Notary Seal from the State of New York. A notary public (or notary or public notary) in the common law world is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non contentious matters usually concerned with estates,… …   Wikipedia

  • Marriage law — For the social and interpersonal aspects of marriage, see Marriage. Family law …   Wikipedia

  • Апостиль — Апостиль[1] (фр. Apostille[2])  специальный знак, проставляющийся на официальных документах некоммерческого характера, исходящих от учреждений и организаций стран участниц Гаагской конвенции об отмене требований легализации иностранных… …   Википедия