What is an apostille?
Apostille is a certification process to make a document acceptable in other country that is a member of Hague Convention treaty as signed in 1961.
What is Hague Convention treaty?
Hague Convention is an international treaty that was signed in 1961. Countries that signed the treaty are considered as Hague Member countries. In contrast, the countries that have not signed it so far are considered Non- Hague Countries.
All the countries mentioned on this above list accept an apostille. Non Hague member countries, in contrast, require consular or embassy legalization process to be carried out on the documents before they accept a document issued from other countries. As more countries have joined Hague Convention treaty in the years subsequently, hence the list is ever changing.
Certification of foreign public document issued from one country is called Apostille under the Hague Convention or Hague Apostille.
Who issues Apostille?
Apostille is always issued by competent authorities in each Hague member countries. Competent authority is determined based on type of document as well. In United States, Secretary of State office in each state is competent authority to issue apostiles on documents issued from that state. Example of Such documents are birth, marriage, divorce, court certified documents, notarized documents etc. US Department of State in Washington DC is competent authority to issue apostille on all Federally issued documents. Example of such documents are FBI reports and document issued by federal agencies like USPTO, USCIS, FDA etc.
In other countries, its typically the foreign office that issues apostille. United Kingdom has FCO or foreign and commonwealth office that issues apostille in Milton Keynes. In India, its Ministry of External affairs in New Delhi.
Can any document be issued with an apostille?
Answer is NO. The document must meet the requirements to have an apostille issued on it. Requirements vary from country to country and within the country, it can vary from state to state. In case of public issued documents, typically authorities look for signature available on record for the department issuing it. If the signature is on record and verifiable, apostille can be issued.
In some cases, there may be need for an intermediate certification before an apostille can be issued. In some states in United States, notary signature is on file with the county clerk’s office and hence, any notarized document must first be certified by county clerk office and then secretary of state office issues an apostille on it. Above all, key in such cases is that document must be notarized properly as per state notary law.
We have experienced numerous cases where a document notarized by a public notary doesn’t meet the requirements to have an apostille issued on it. The reason for rejection is typically due to one or more mistakes made by notary while discharging his notary duties. Most noteworthy of mistakes made are signature mismatch, wrong commission expiration date on the document, missing acknowledgement or jurat as applicable, missing date of notarization on the document etc. Hence, we suggest that you always, try to find a notary who is aware of state notary law and requirements.
Some states in United States only issue apostille on public documents issued within a certain time frame. As a result, any document that is issued prior to that time frame is not accepted. Consequently, in such scenarios, a new certified copy of document must first be requested from State vital statistics department or court as applicable.
All federal issued documents are apostilled directly by US Department of State in Washington DC. Preparing some of federal issued documents for USDS Apostille can be complicated based on nature of documents like Consular Report of Birth Abroad certificates, Name change documents issued by Federal court, Citizenship certificates issued by USCIS etc.
Does Apostille look the same in each country or State?
Hague convention specified 10 standard fields or items that must be present on each apostille certificate or stamp. Top of such certification carries the word APOSTILLE. Below that the text, Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961 (French for “Hague Convention of 5 October 1961”) is placed. For an apostille to be valid, this must be written in French language as per article 4 of the convention. Typical standard 10 items covered in each apostille are as follows (These can be in language of the country issuing the apostille) –
- Country … [e.g. Spain, Bahrain]
This public document
- has been signed by [e.g. Scott Smith]
- acting in the capacity of [e.g. acting Chief]
- bears the seal/stamp of [e.g. FBI ]
- at [e.g. Washington DC]
- the … [e.g. 26th March 2020]
- by … [e.g. the Secretary of State]
- No … [e.g. 11254125]
- Seal/stamp … [of the authority issuing the apostille]
Some countries put an apostille sticker on the document back page or on the document itself. In contrast, others issue apostille as an additional page attached to the document also called allonge.
List of Hague Member Countries that accept Apostille issued by Secretary of State office or US Department of State in Washington DC-
We can assist you to obtain Apostille issued by any Secretary of State office in 50 States across United States and also Federal Apostille issued by USDS in Washington DC.
Download the Hague Member country list by clicking here Hague Member Countries