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Apostille: What It Is and Why It's Important

In 1961, a group of European countries recognized the need for a simplified method of document legalization across their borders. Member countries met in a scheduled convention called the Hague Convention. There, they agreed on the adoption of a document called "Apostille". This document will serve as a universal way of recognition by all member countries.

What is an Apostille?

Apostille is a French term that means certification. It is a form of specialized certification papers that are attached to documents to ascertain its authenticity and legitimacy for use and acceptance across countries of the Hague Convention.

In the United States, Apostille is issued in all 50 states by the secretary of state.

Importance of Apostille

Before the adoption of Apostille, the formality of authenticating foreign documents by international public authorities was burdensome and time intensive. The introduction of the Apostille abolished the requirement of legalization for foreign public (including notarized) documents. Ever since documents that are to be used in foreign member countries are certified by a jurisdictional authority from the country of origin. The delivery of this certificate (Apostille) along with a document in a participating country reduces all the formalities of legalization to a simple verification from the source.

Requirement for Apostille

The Hauge Apostille Convention requires that all Apostilles be registered, dated, and numbered. A standard certificate carries the name of the country of origin, the name of the person signing the Apostille, and the capacity in which he/she is acting.

For unsigned documents, a stamp or seal of the authority issuing certificate and the address of certification are necessary. Today, there are 117 members countries in the Hauge Apostille Convention including the United States.

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