Get the right “Apostille”

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Get the right “Apostille”

An Apostille is basically an addition to a notarized (or officially issued) document – to make the item acceptable in countries other than the country of issue. The Apostille bearing document is generally of a “personal” nature; as opposed to business documents. Personal documents include Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce certificates. Also considered personal are affidavits, statements of fact; created by individuals for various purposes. Business documents include, but are certainly not limited to: Statements of Incorporation, business contracts, and powers of attorney for business transactions. A personal power of attorney is generally considered a personal document. As a – I process both types.

Personal documents for use outside the USA generally only require an Apostille. Business documents generally require Legalization at Consulate or Embassy. Article 12 of The Hague, regarding the international use of documents – is specifically for personal documents. That agreement among nations was intended to reduce the need for the more costly and time consuming Legalization procedure. However, often a step in the Legalization procedure is obtaining an Apostille prior to bringing the document to the Embassy or Consulate.

There are two “types” of Apostilles issued. For signatory nations to Article 12, the document issued is titled “Apostille”. For non-signatory nations; China and Canada are examples, the document issued is titled “Certification”. Both the “Apostille” and the “Certification” are loosely referred to as being an “Apostille”. They serve the same function precisely. However, the word “Apostille” at the top of the page is only intended for use in signatory nations. Signatory nations both issue and receive the “Apostille” at the top of the page. Non-signatory nations issue and receive the word “Certification” at the top of the page. It’s a minor technicality, but the proper format is necessary for acceptance by the target country of use. has obtained, over the past decade, thousands of each type. Now you understand why I must ask “What is the target country of use”. The Department of State – prior to issuing the “Apostille” asks the same question. Based on the answer, they look up the “signatory status” – and issue the appropriate format. Note that although there are two formats – each format is not tied to a specific country. An “Apostille” bearing document is acceptable in England or Italy; but not intended for use in Canada or China. The reverse is also true. A “Certification” bearing document is not intended for England or Italy; but is right for Canada or China. If you tell me the correct country of use; you may get an “Apostille”, or you may get a “Certification”. Both formats function in exactly the same manner.


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Kenneth Edelstein

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