Apostille is a special standardized form of state-certified documents (judicial, administrative, etc.) introduced by the Hague Convention (1961), which is often used in international legal practice. It was designed to simplify the use of documents of any country abroad, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, which always arises due to the difficulty of identifying foreign documents. But the apostille form does not apply:
About the Convention
This international agreement was concluded in the process of the work of a permanent entity, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the purpose of which is to standardize international legal norms. The provisions of the Convention make it possible, in many cases, to replace the existing procedure for legalizing foreign documents (a laborious and complicated process) with a simpler way of verification, and to unify the certification procedure. At the same time, the legalization procedure did not cease to exist; only the area of its application has decreased.
At the moment, more than seventy countries of the world, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, the UK, have become parties to the Hague Convention. The Convention is open for accession, so the list of participants can be expanded. If the Apostille is properly affixed, a document is unconditionally recognized as valid in any of the participating countries of the Convention. That is, if you need to submit official documents of any CIS country (for example, a Russian university diploma) to a foreign organization or state structure, you need to issue the Apostille in your country. If you need to submit foreign documents at the place of residence in a Convention member state (for example, marriage certificate), you will need to receive the Apostille in a foreign country that issued this document.
What is the Apostille procedure?
The procedure involves placing a stamp of a specific design on a document. Instead of a stamp, it is allowed to attach to the document being certified a separate sheet, stapled with the original, with the inscription “Apostille”, drawn up in the manner provided for in the 1961 Agreement. The text of the apostille can be written in the language of the country where the document is issued. However, at the top of the page there will be a phrase in French: “APOSTILLE (Convention de la Haye du 5 octobre 1961)”.
There are exceptions to the Apostilles rule in the state of origin of the document. For example, official certificates issued by state institutions of dependent British territories can be apostilled in London.
Each country party to the Convention independently grants the right to issue an apostille to the selected authority. In the UK, this right was granted to the Legalisation Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are no special requirements for a person who requests an apostille for a presented document. The apostille stamp, designed in accordance with the rules of the Convention, confirms the official’s signature on the document, the signatory’s legal competences and, if there is a seal (stamp) on the original, it confirms the authenticity of these details.