Posts Tagged ‘legal’

Words to Know on the Go – Word #1

| Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 | No Comments »

APOSTILLE – french term meaning certification

Aaaghhh the dreaded apostille.   All Love Immigrants (LI’s) need to learn, grasp and be on top of this word! I can not emphasis this enough. Many a love immigrant has ignored my plea only to be told at a crucial time (applying for marriage license, citizenship, residency) that their birth certificate or other required legal document was not acceptable because it did not have an “apostille”.

I know first hand how rude and shocking it is to have someone hold up your birth certificate and say, “this is not legal”. “Yes it is I demand”, no no it is not, you have no apostille. What the (&(*&)#$& is an Apostille???!!? And I thought I had asked all the appropriate questions BEFORE I arrived in the Netherlands. Don’t assume, ask more than one person in a position of power your question, (It’s amazing how the answers change from person to person) and always get any legal document with an officials signature on it apostilled!

Some LI’s have tried to argue with me that they know best or what is legal and what isn’t. Some have tried to tell me that having a document notarized is enough. Well great, its your time, money, patience, stress level, health and well being. You can either wing it or accept that there are laws that everyone must comply with, you included.

Follow the information below and you will at least be prepared! Please note this is US specific. However you can check to see if your country was one of the signatory countries that participated in the 1981 Convention. If so, simply contact the legal department responsible for official documents and they will be able to provide you with the information you need to set you in the right direction.


Foreign countries often require “official” documents to be “authenticated”
before such documents will be accepted in the foreign jurisdiction. An
“authentication” is a governmental act by which a designated public official
certifies to the genuineness of the signature and seal and the position of the
official who has executed, issued, or certified a copy of a document.

In 1981, the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents entered into force in the United States. Under the
Convention, signatory countries (including the United States) agreed to
mutually recognize each other’s “public documents” so long as such documents
are authenticated by an apostille, a form of internationally recognized
notarization. The apostille ensures that public documents issued in one
signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.

The apostille, which is a French term for “certification”, is issued by a
designated government official of the country (or sub-national government
unit) that issued the document to be authenticated. The sole function of the
apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature on the document in
question; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the
identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document. The apostille either
must be attached as an annex to the official document or placed on the
document itself by means of a stamp. The form of the apostille is prescribed
in the Convention and is mandatory. (A copy of the form is reproduced on the

For the purposes of the Convention, “public documents” that may be
authenticated by an apostille include documents issued by judicial
authorities, including those emanating from public prosecutors, court clerks,
and process servers; administrative documents; and official certificates
affixed to documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as
official certificates recording the registration of a document, notarial
authentications of signatures, etc. Documents executed by diplomatic or
consular agents, or administrative documents relating to commercial or customs
operations, may not be authenticated by an apostille.

Authorities in the United States that are competent to issue apostilles
include the Authentication Office of the U.S. Department of State; clerks of
U.S. federal courts; and secretaries of state for most U.S. states (for
Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah, the office of the Lieutenant Governor). Diplomatic
and consular officials at U.S. embassies, consulates, or missions may issue
apostilles in certain circumstances when requested by a foreign governmental



(Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961)

1. Country : _____________________________________________
This public document
2. has been signed by _____________________________________
3. acting in the capacity of _________________________________
4. bears the seal/stamp of __________________________________
5. at ___________________________
6. the __________________
7. by ____________________________________________________
8. No. ___________________________________________________
9. Seal/Stamp:

For additional information, contact the Authentication Office of the U.S. Department of State (202/647-5002), the clerk of the nearest U.S. federal court, or the office of the secretary of state in your state capital.