Legalisation and Apostille: a quick introduction


Always more frequently public documents  – such as certificates from Register, court rulings, notary deeds or official translations – needs to be internationally used.

However, before a public deed can be accepted in a foreign country different from the one where the document was released, its origin should be authenticated. The traditional method to authenticate public documents to be used abroad is called legalisation and consists of a chain of authentications involving officials from the issuing country and the embassy or consulate of the country where the target document needs to be used. Due to the number of authorities involved, the legalisation process is often bureaucratic, slow and expensive.

Many countries in the world has joined a treaty which greatly simplifies the authentication of public documents to be used abroad: the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, best known as the Apostille Convention. If applied, the Convention reduces the legalisation process to a single formality: the issuance of the so-called Apostille.

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