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What is an apostille?

An apostille is a special stamp that serves as a simplified method of officially legalizing documents to give them legal force in foreign countries. The apostille is recognized in all member countries of the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, which abolishes the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents.

What is an apostille?

Posted 20 May 2024

What Problem Does an Apostille Solve?

To begin with, for foreign documents to have legal force, they need to be legalized. Without such legalization, a document will not have legal validity in a foreign country. Simply put, for a document created in Country A to be recognized in Country B, it typically must be legalized. Legalization can be diplomatic or consular and often involves a labor-intensive process, which can be simplified by another procedure—apostille.

An apostille helps simplify the process of giving documents legal force in foreign countries by eliminating the need for diplomatic or consular legalization.

Additionally, an apostille confirms that the document was issued in accordance with the laws of the country that issued it.

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Where to Get an Apostille?

An apostille can only be issued in the country where the original document was created and only if that country is a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention.

An apostille is either affixed directly to the document or attached as a separate page that must be securely fastened to the document it authenticates.

Documents are apostilled in government institutions. In the USA, this can be done by the Office of Authentications of the US Department of State, state secretaries, and other agencies. In the UK, it is handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

What if the Country is Not a Signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention?

If a country is not a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention, different rules for document legalization apply. For instance, the United Arab Emirates has not signed the Hague Convention, so you cannot obtain an apostille there. Instead, you will need to go through consular legalization, which is somewhat more complex and time-consuming compared to apostille.

Timeframe for Apostille

The apostille process varies depending on the country in which it is conducted, but it generally takes between 1 and 10 days.

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