What is Certification?
The procedure through which an official designation is obtained. It is a document attesting to the truth of certain stated facts.
What is the Authentication of Documents for Use Abroad (Outside the U.S.)?
Documents issued in one country that need to be used in another country must be “authenticated” before they can be recognized as a valid document in a foreign country. This process uses various seals placed directly on the document. These documents range from powers of attorney, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, affidavits, patent applications, home studies, and other legal papers. The number and type of authentication certificates you need to obtain will depend on the nature of the document and whether or not the foreign country is a party to the multilateral treaty on “legalization” of documents (i.e., “Hague Legalization Convention”).
What is Legalization?
Official documents that are issued in one country that will be used in countries abroad need to be legalized or ‘authenticated’ by the appropriate authorities in the issuing country as proof that the document was issued by a competent official. I.e., proof that the certificate is authentic and is not fraudulent.
The type of legalization/authentication required depends on the country in which the documents come from.
- Double Legalization. First by the issuing country and then by the Embassy or Consulate in the issuing country.
- Legalization and Verification. Legalization by issuing country and verification of content by the Embassy or Consulate in issuing country.
What is Apostille?
The Apostille is a special kind of letter and stamp. It is the shortest process of legalization. An Apostille is not the same as a ‘raised seal’. These are two different things. An Apostille can be used if both countries (the country issuing the document and the country in which the document will be used) are part of the international “The Hague Apostille Convention”.
The United States is a party of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention abolishes the requirement of diplomatic and consular legalization for public documents originating in one Convention country and intended for use in another. For the purposes of the Convention, public documents include: (a) documents originating from a court, (b) documents issued by an administrative authority (such as civil records), and (c) documents executed before a notary. Such documents issued in a Convention country which have been certified by a Convention certificate called an “apostille” are entitled to recognition in any other Convention country without any further authentication.
What are the requirements for authentication/legalization by other countries?
Each Embassy/Consulate is different in what requirements and fees are needed for Document Authenticate.