Aug 14 10:25 2015 Matus Navrat Print This Article

An apostille is a certificate that has the role of authenticating official seals, stamps and signatures on documents issued by a public authority such as court orders, birth certificates and any other type of public documents issued to be used in another country.

Appostilles are used and recognized in countries that are part of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents,Guest Posting or the Apostille Convention, drafted in 1961 by the International Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Outside the Convention

For countries that are not part of the Convention, such a document needs to be certified by the foreign ministry of the issuing country and by the foreign ministry of the receiving country in order to have legal effect.


A document issued by Canada which has to be used in a foreign country needs to be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs or by a Canadian consular official and by the foreign minister or consulate of the receiving country.

Apostilles – form and elements

The apostille has the form of a 15cms square piece of paper permanently glued to the authenticated document. An embossing mechanism is used to emboss the government crest on the document. This mechanism is called apostille seal or stamp.

The elements of an apostille certificate are:

  1. Country of origin;
  2. The name of the person signing the document;
  3. The capacity of the person signed the document;
  4. Information common to any seal document;
  5. Place of origin.
  6. Date of issue;
  7. The authority issuing the document.
  8. Number of the Apostille Certificate;
  9. Stamp of issuing authority.
  10. The signature of the person representing the issuing authority.

Attestation or apostille

Attestation is another term used for apostilles. Attestation represents the confirmation of a document correctness and it usually refers to the witnessing of an action or event. In this sense an apostille certificate has the value of an official confirmation that the seal, stamp or signature on the document is genuine. Taking also into consideration that the legalization of a document is often referred to as attestation, it is easy to understand why sometimes the two terms are used as synonyms.

Sometimes the document authenticated by the apostille certificate can also be a document that has been by itself witnessed or certified to be correct. 

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Matus Navrat
Matus Navrat

Mr. Navrat received his law degree from New York University School of Law. Mr. Navrat is currently advising mainly on complex corporate, tax, and intellectual property matters.

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