WHAT IS AN APOSTILLE?
Let’s discuss what an Apostille and Embassy Legalization is
An Apostille (pronounced “AH-PO-STEEL”) is a French word meaning certification.
An Apostille is a form of document legalization, issued by the government official. In the United States, all 50 states and the Federal Government (US Department of State – Office of Authentication in the Washington DC.) can issue an Apostille.
The Apostille is attached to your original document to verify that it is legitimate and authentic so it will be accepted in one of the countries who are members of the Hague Apostille Convention.
So, what is a Hague Apostille Convention?
In 1961, many countries joined together to create a simplified method of “legalizing” documents for universal recognition. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague Convention (Apostille Convention) adopted a document referred to as an Apostille that would be recognized by all member countries.
Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.
The Apostille Convention requires that all Apostilles be numbered consecutively, with individual numbers applied to each Apostille issued.
In some States (e.g. NY) there is a special service where you can verify the authenticity of your Apostille.
The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form that consists of 10 numbered standard fields. On the top is the text APOSTILLE, under which the text Convention de La Haye du 5 Octobre 1961 (French for “Hague Convention of 5 October 1961“) is placed. This title must be written in French for the Apostille to be valid (article 4 of the Convention). In the numbered fields, the following information is added. It may be in the official language of the authority which issues it (English for the United States) or in a second and even third language like for example California Apostille (English, French and Spanish):
1. Country … [e.g. Korea, Spain, U.S.A]
This public document
2. has been signed by [e.g. Henry Cho]
3. acting in the capacity of [e.g. Notary Public]
4. bears the seal/stamp of [e.g. High Court of Hong Kong]
5. at [e.g. Hong Kong]
6. the … [e.g. 16 April 2014]
7. by … [e.g. the Chief Executive of the Special
Administrative Region of Hong Kong]
8. No … [e.g. 2536218517]
9. Seal/stamp … [of the authority giving the apostille]
Apostilles require no further diplomatic or consular legalization! Apostille is sufficient to be presented to the requesting party.
If the country where you intend to use your documents belongs to the Apostille Section of the Hague Convention, you will require an Apostille, however, If the
country where you intend to use your documents does NOT belong to the Apostille Section of the Hague Convention, you will need Embassy Legalization.
What is Consular/Embassy Legalization?
For documents intended for use in countries that are NOT signatories to the Hague Convention (Like China, UAE, etc.), the Department of State attaches a certification.
A certification performs the same duty as an apostille; however, its appearance and places of use are different!
Please note that unlike Apostilles, which require no further legalization, certificates of authentication require further diplomatic or consular legalization before being sent overseas!
This may require further Authentication by the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Embassy or Consulate of the country of intended use.
Both Apostilles and Certifications are used by foreign governments to assess the authenticity of an official signature on a document; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document. When the Department of State authenticates a document with an apostille or certification, the department verifies that the person who signed the document is a current acting official and the Secretary of State has given "full faith and credit" to the official's seal and signature.