Recognizing one’s civil status abroad can be a complex process, but the Hague Convention has simplified the apostille procedure since its inception on October 5, 1961. Many countries, including the United States, France, Italy, Monaco and the United Kingdom, have signed up to this convention, facilitating the legalization of official documents. This article explores the apostille process, the types of documents involved, and the steps to follow to ensure recognition of your civil status abroad.

The apostille procedure under the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention establishes a simplified apostille procedure. It consists of affixing a stamp to a document, attesting to the veracity of the signature and the legal status of the document. This procedure is designed to facilitate the international recognition of official documents.

Types of documents requiring an apostille

Several types of documents may require an apostille, including notarial deeds (wills, donations), administrative deeds (diplomas, transcripts, tax notices), judicial deeds (extracts from criminal records, judgments), commercial deeds (contracts, assignments) and civil deeds less than three months old.

Translated documents and signature authentication

For translated documents, it is essential to legalize the translator’s signature (to find out more, depending on your situation, please consult this summary table). This authenticates the translator, without necessarily guaranteeing the content of the translation. The translator must legalize his or her signature at the town hall or notary’s office. It is crucial to specify when requesting a quote whether legalization is required, as this step is usually invoiced. Certain original documents, such as private contracts, may also need to be legalized before they can be apostilled.

Applying the apostille

Once the translator’s signature (if applicable) and the signatures on the original document have been legalized, the document is ready for apostille. From January 1, 2025, a notary will be able to affix the apostille to the legalized original and the certified translation with legalized signature. Before this date, you need to send your documents or go in person to the Court of Appeal to finalize the apostille process.

Recognizing your civil status abroad is a process facilitated by the Hague Convention. Understanding the apostille process, the types of documents involved, and the necessary steps can simplify this administrative process. By following these steps, you can ensure the legalization and international recognition of your official documents abroad. Do you need help with your paperwork? We’d be delighted to help you. Contact us!