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What Is an Apostille and When Do I Need One?

Apostille Servivces

What is an Apostille & When do I need one?

About 71% of American adults have gone abroad at some point in their life. If you are about to go abroad and have legal or business matters to attend to while there, you may require an apostille certificate.

But what is an apostille, exactly? Here, we’re going to answer that question and unpack some notary basics regarding apostilles. Read on to learn when you need one of these documents and why.

What Is an Apostille?

In the simplest terms, an apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document.

Apostilles and authentication certificates both validate the seal and signature of a document’s Notary. This allows the document to be accepted in a foreign country.

Because of this, apostilles are used when public documents are being transferred between multiple countries. Both the sending and receiving nations must party to the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. Apostilles streamline more lengthy and difficult document authentication procedures in these nations.

The time and requirements for getting an authentication certificate will vary depending on the countries involved.

What If the Country Is Not a Signatory of the Apostille Treaty?

Earlier, we brushed on the fact that nations must be party to the Apostille Treaty in order for these certificates to function.

If you find the process of notarization and certification inconvenient, you would find the alternative of embassy legalization downright daunting. Apostilles prevent you from needing to undergo this arduous process.

Documents will need to undergo a multi-step authentication process that passes through the Embassy in the country where the document will be presented. It gets US Department of State Certification before going to the Embassy in the recipient nation. The embassy provides you with the authentication stamp.

What Kinds of Documents Need Apostille?

The most common documents requiring an apostille are passports, Power of Attorney, and birth/marriage/death certificates.

However, any number of public legal documents can get apostilled. The documents that must undergo this process depend on your motives for getting the certificate.

What Is the Point of an Apostille?

Apostilles are often required for those seeking employment or education abroad. If you plan on moving to another country, the likelihood that you will require an apostille is high. Even if immigration does not require the certificate, jobs that you apply to will, as will universities and similar institutions.

However, those that are traveling are not the only people in need of an apostille.

These certificates are required for legal transactions between two countries. Often, this will involve business transactions pertaining to buying and selling goods. However, they also are common for property dealings such as settling the estate of someone who passed away while holding overseas assets.

Apostilles are not intended to be a legal barrier or additional hoop for you to jump through before traveling. They are instead meant to protect you. A Notary Public will verify that the documents are actually yours, which will protect you against fraud and risks associated with defrauding.

Where Do Apostilles Come From?

Apostilles can come from one of two places. The first is your Secretary of State’s office. If you choose to go this route, you might be stuck on a long waiting list with little customer service.

Because of this, the best option is to get an apostille issued by your state’s Notary commissioning agency. The apostille will be prepared and sent to the recipient country along with the notarized documents themselves.

Apostille Requirements

So, when do you need an apostille, exactly?

You of course need an apostille if you have business in another country. However, there are several other conditions that make an apostille necessary:

  1. The Apostille Convention applies to the country where the document was issued (this is always true for US apostille applicants since the US is party to the Apostille Convention)
  2. The recipient country is also party to the Apostille Convention
  3. The country that issued the document classifies it as a “public document”
  4. The nation where the document will be used requires an apostille to recognize it as a foreign public document

Note that apostilles are not issued for recognition of a document in its country of origin. They are solely for the use of these public documents overseas.

How Long Does It Take for an Apostille to Be Applied?

Obtaining an apostille usually takes about two days. In some cases, it may even only take a single day!

However, you also must consider the time that it takes to receive the document that you need to be apostilled (if you are not already in possession of it).

Once the notarized document is apostilled, it is applied immediately. The process is so streamlined that the wait is incredibly short.

Do Apostilles Expire?

Generally, apostille certificates have no expiration date. An apostille should usually be accepted at any time after it is issued. If you received an apostille on notarized documents 20 years ago, it should still function and continue to do so forever.

However, certain situations may call for more recent apostilles. For example, a potential employer might ask for a criminal record check and apostille that is less than 6 months old. This makes sense when you consider that criminal status can change quickly, so a background check will require a recent issue.

Legally Notarize Your Documents Today

So, what is an apostille?

At its core, it’s a certificate of authenticity for your notarized documents. In practice, it’s documentation that will allow you to have legal opportunities abroad as well as in the US. Now that you know all about apostilles, it’s time to get started.

We’re committed to helping you to make overseas document verification a simple process. That’s why we’re excited for you to call us and initiate a conversation. Schedule an appointment today to discuss all of your apostille-related needs with Notary experts.

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