Want to take a domestic document and legalize it for acceptance in a different country?
That’s what getting an apostille is for. It’s an absolute necessity if you plan on expanding overseas.
For example, you might be:
- A business that wants to expand globally
- An individual seeking foreign citizenship
- A student legalizing degrees for foreign countries
- An employee legalizing documents for overseas work
Whatever the situation may be, the process of overseas legalization is always challenging. And while complex, there are only two paths available.
One would be an apostille. The other would be legalization.
What’s the Difference between an Apostille and Legalization?
Apostilles are a type of authentication. They’re a simplified legalization of public documents, making them internationally recognizable in many countries.
Those countries include the members of 1961’s Hague Convention Treaty.
Documents legalized by an apostille are issued through the Secretary of State’s office, the US Federal Court (and sometimes) the US Department of State’s Office of Authentications.
Plus, apostilles come with an advantage. You aren’t required extra certification by an embassy or foreign country’s consulate!
There are exceptions though, where some countries don’t accept apostilles. Different “authentication” may be required, which we’ll discuss next…
Getting a Document Legalized
If a business entity is trying to establish presence in a country that isn’t part of The Hague Convention Treaty, then a special authentication process is required.
This involves notarizing the documents in question. Notarizing a document means getting a sealed certificate that confirms the document’s authority.
After authentication is completed, the business must get certification in that country’s foreign jurisdiction. This is called legalization, and is done in that country’s consulate or embassy within the US.
Gold Seal Certifications
Those are certifications asked for by countries not belonging to the Hague Convention. Those countries will ask for a copy of the applicant’s Articles of Incorporation, validated with a formal gold seal.
Unlike apostilles, additional steps will be required afterwards for full legal recognition.
Apostilles and Legalizations: Are they the Same?
Not at all. They’re not interchangeable. Each is a process followed by a country, depending on whether they’re part of the Hague Treaty or not.
And you need to ensure you pick the right route. Taking the wrong route may result in your documents being rejected by that foreign country.
For example, Canada is one country that isn’t a member of the Hague Convention. Thus, apostilles are not accepted there. If one is submitted by mistake, it will be rejected.
In that case, you are then required to get a clean version of the document before reapplying at a Canadian consulate or embassy.
Getting Documents Apostilled/Legalized
The process takes time, where processing may last several weeks. Also, the individual may be asked to visit the embassy or consulate in-person.
Thus, knowing the requirements of the country to which you’re expanding is necessary.
Here is a basic list of precautions to follow:
- Ensure all documents are original and complete
- Some documents require translations (making legalized translators a necessity)
- If other documents are referred to in the original document, they should be attached for revision
A lot of preparation is required, and it is a time consuming process. It’s important to plan those small details ahead of time.
In case you don’t know where to start, we recommend seeking an apostille service in New Jersey.
They’ll have the experience assimilating and submitting documents for businesses and individuals seeking to expand overseas!