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Apostilles & Legalization Explained


An Apostille is a preprinted form certifying a document for use in another country, pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention. The Apostille is an abbreviated method of legalisation that certifies the Notary’s signature. Simply put, countries that are party to the Hague Convention have agreed to do away with the lengthy legalisation process and accept documents with the Apostille as authentic. An Apostille is usually issued by the Secretary of State’s office in the jurisdiction where notarization took place.

With an Apostille certification, a notarized document is entitled to recognition in the country of intended use and there is no requirement for certification or legalization by the country of recordal’s nearest Embassy or Consulate in the United States. The advantage of an Apostille is that the document will not have to go through the time consuming legalization process. The notarized document is sent to the Secretary of State’s office in which the notary is certified, requesting an Apostille for the country in which the document will be filed.

Blair Consular can arrange these processes on your behalf.

In the case of filing Trade Mark/Patent documentation, even if a country is a member of the Hague Convention, an assignment document may not require an Apostille since the local trademark office may not require certification to record a trademark assignment. This can best be confirmed by consulting with your associate. A few countries which will accept documents certified by Apostille are Austria, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

Full Legalization

Legalization is the most time consuming method of authentication. This is the method by which certain documents are authenticated first by a consulate in the United States for the country where the document is to be filed. A number of countries, primarily in South America and the Middle East, still require this kind of legalization.

As with documents authenticated by Apostille, the document must first be notarized in order to be processed for legalization. Some countries require confirmation of the notary’s status by the county clerk of the notary’s country. Thereafter, the documents must be forwarded to the respective Secretary of State’s office. Some countries also require that the document be sent to the US State Department, which will certify the authority of the Secretary of State, and in some cases a U.S Arab Chamber of Commerce, Lastly, the document must be sent to the Embassy or Consulate of the relevant country in the United States. Legalization can be a lengthy process, very specific to the particular country, and must be strictly complied with, or the documents can be rejected by the local authorities. With over 45 years in the legalization business, you can rely on Blair Consular to provide you with the most cost-effective and efficient service for processing your documentation.

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