An Apostille certificate is typically an A5 size piece of paper that is attached to the reverse side of the document it has been issued to. It must follow a strict format and contain specific information such as the country of issue, date of issue and details relating to the person or authority that has signed or sealed the document.
Why are Apostille Certificates required?
The simplest way to describe the need for an Apostille Certificate is this. Most people have a birth certificate and most of us know what one looks like. Now take your birth certificate to a foreign country and show it to an official in that country to identify yourself. It is unlikely your birth certificate is laid out in the same fashion as birth certificates in another country so how does the official know it is a legitimate document.
The answer is, have an Apostille Certificate attached to it. The majority of countries accept documents once they have been legalised with an Apostille Certificate and will not require any further evidence as to the authenticity of the document.
How has this process come to exist and be accepted?
The Apostille Certificate was created by the Hague Conference, which is a global organisation bringing countries together to try and simplify legal systems from one country to another. Each country has its own legal system so members of the Hague Conference agree on certain issues to follow specific guidelines. The Apostille Certificate is one such agreement or convention, most member countries agree that a document which has been legalised with an Apostille Certificate in its country of origin will be accepted in any other member country. This removes the need for further evidence to be obtained to prove the documents authenticity.
Over 60 countries have agreed to this specific convention on Apostille Certificates, including the UK, most of Europe and the USA.
When is an Apostille Certificate needed?
Primarily it is required for legal transactions where a document from one country must be presented in another as part of a legal process. Most often this will involve business transactions but is becoming more common for property dealings and to settle the estate of a deceased person with assets overseas.
Some of the most common documents requiring legalisation with an Apostille Certificate are Powers of Attorney, Passports, Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates.
How to obtain an Apostille?
Due to the complexity of handling varying documents specialist services exist to arrange the Apostille Certificate of your behalf. It is not just a case of supplying the original document and the Apostille Certificate gets issued. A document is handled dependant on what signatures or seals of authority it contains. Many documents will require additional certification prior to the issue of the Apostille certificate. An experienced Legalisation Service will be able to advice on this and in many cases can deal with any additional certification on your behalf.
A service such as this has many benefits, one of which should be speed of service; the second is to ensure your document is issued with the Apostille Certificate on the first attempt as they should not get it wrong!.
Mike Harris works within the business advice industry, including document legalisation, and has a wide knowledge of this sector. The SFS group are please to provide an Apostille for your documents. This service is often referred to as legalisation.