Apostille Convention

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

Template:Distinguish2 Template:Infobox Treaty

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of 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 (from Latin post illa and then Template:Lang-fr). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarisation of the document.


Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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 in which 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.[4] 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.[5][6] In Japan all the official documents are issued in Japanese language, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, JAPAN) then provides an apostille for these documents.[7] In India the apostille certification can be obtained from the Ministry of External Affairs[8]


File:Apostille Norway.png
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 (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 (may be in official language of the authority which issues it or in a second language):

  1. Country ... [e.g. Hong Kong, China]
    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 governor of the special administrative district of Hong Kong, China]
  8. No ... [e.g. 2536218517]
  9. Seal/stamp ... {of the authority giving the apostille}
  10. Signature

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:[9]

  • 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.


Template:Main A State that has 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. Otherwise, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country in which the document originated, and then by the foreign ministry of the government of the state in which 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 Canadian consular official abroad and subsequently by the relevant government office or consulate of the receiving state.


States that are party to the convention

The convention has 112 parties and is in force for all members of the European Union and all but 10 members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The most recent state to accede to the convention is Chile (entry into force 30 August 2016).

State Entry into Force Apostille not recognised in Comment
Template:Flagicon Albania Template:Dts Belgium (until 2015), Germany, Greece, Italy (until 2011) and Spain
Template:Flagicon Andorra Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Antigua and Barbuda Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Argentina Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Armenia Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Australia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Austria Template:Dts Burundi, Dominican Republic, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
Template:Flagicon Azerbaijan Template:Dts Germany, Hungary (until 2005), Kosovo, Netherlands (until 2010)
Template:Flagicon Bahamas Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Bahrain Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Barbados Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Belarus Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Belgium Template:Dts Albania (until 2015), Dominican Republic, India (until 2008), Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine (until 2004), Uzbekistan
Template:Flagicon Belize Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Bosnia and Herzegovina Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Botswana Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Brazil Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Brunei Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Bulgaria Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Burundi Template:Dts Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland
Template:Flagicon Cape Verde Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Chile Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Colombia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Cook Islands Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Costa Rica Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Croatia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Cyprus Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Czech Republic Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Kingdom of Denmark Template:Dts does not apply for Greenland and the Faroe Islands
Template:Flagicon Dominica Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Dominican Republic Template:Dts Austria, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands
Template:Flagicon Ecuador Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon El Salvador Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Estonia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Fiji Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Finland Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon France Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Georgia Template:Dts Germany (until 2010), Kosovo and Greece (until 2015)
Template:Flagicon Germany Template:Dts Albania, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Dominican Republic, Georgia (until 2010), India, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru (until 2014), Tajikistan, Ukraine (until 2010) and Uzbekistan
Template:Flagicon Greece Template:Dts Albania, Georgia (until 2015), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Peru, Uzbekistan
Template:Flagicon Grenada Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Cyprus Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Honduras Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Guatemala Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Hungary Template:Dts Azerbaijan (until 2005),
Template:Flagicon Iceland Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon India Template:Dts Belgium (until 2008), Finland (until 2009), Germany,[10] Netherlands (until 2008) and Spain (until 2008), Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Ireland Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Israel Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Italy Template:Dts Albania (until 2011),
Template:Flagicon Japan Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Kazakhstan Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Kosovo Template:Dts Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China (for Hong Kong and Macao), Cyprus, Germany, Georgia, Greece, India, Israel, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Mexico, Moldova, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela
Template:Flagicon Kyrgyzstan Template:Dts Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Greece
Template:Flagicon Latvia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Lesotho Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Liberia Template:Dts Belgium, Germany, and the United States (until 2015)
Template:Flagicon Liechtenstein Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Lithuania Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Luxembourg Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Macau Template:Dts Kosovo The convention is still applicable to Macau despite the transfer of sovereignty over Macau on Template:Dts.[11]
Template:Flagicon Macedonia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Malawi Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Malta Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Marshall Islands Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Mauritius Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Mexico Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Moldova Template:Dts Germany and Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Monaco Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Mongolia Template:Dts Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Greece
Template:Flagicon Montenegro Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Morocco Template:Dts Germany
Template:Flagicon Namibia Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Kingdom of the Netherlands Template:Dts Azerbaijan (until 2010), Dominican Republic, India (until 2008), Aruba, Curaçao, Netherlands, and Sint Maarten
Template:Flagicon New Zealand Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Nicaragua Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Niue Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Norway Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Oman Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Panama Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Paraguay Template:Dts[12] Germany, Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Peru Template:Dts Germany, Greece, Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Poland Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Portugal Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Romania Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Russia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Saint Kitts and Nevis Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Saint Lucia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Samoa Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon San Marino Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon São Tomé and Príncipe Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Serbia Template:Dts Kosovo ratified as the Template:Flag
Template:Flagicon Seychelles Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Slovakia Template:Dts Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Slovenia Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon South Africa Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon South Korea Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Spain Template:Dts Albania, India (until 2008) and Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Suriname Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Swaziland Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Sweden Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Switzerland Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Tonga Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Trinidad and Tobago Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Turkey Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Ukraine Template:Dts Belgium (until 2004), Greece (until 2010) and Kosovo
Template:Flagicon United Kingdom Template:Dts including Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories
Template:Flagicon United States Template:Dts Liberia (until 2015)
Template:Flagicon Uruguay Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Uzbekistan Template:Dts Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Kosovo
Template:Flagicon Vanuatu Template:Dts
Template:Flagicon Venezuela Template:Dts Kosovo


The Apostille does not give information regarding the quality of the content in the underlying 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 a report in December 2008 which expressed serious concerns about Diplomas and Degree certificates 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 evaluation commission of the Hague Conference expressed concern as to whether this issue could affect 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)[13]

In February 2009 the Hague Conference recommended to amend the wording on the Apostille to make it clear that only the seal and the signature were authenticated. The wording to be added is: "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."[14]

See also



External links

Template:Use dmy dates
Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found