What Is an Apostille Certificate?

Published by Travel Visa Pro on Fri Apr 30 2021

An Apostille is a type of verification provided for documents to be used in countries that are part of the Hague Convention of 1961, also known as the Apostille Convention. The word ‘Apostille’ means ‘Certification’ in French.

You may also have heard words “Authentication”, “Legalization” used


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The Importance of an Apostille Certificate

There are plenty of reasons you may need an Apostille certificate. The most important thing you need to know about this certificate is that you’ll only need it when you travel abroad.

For example, if you plan on traveling to a foreign country for further studies, you’ll need an Apostille certificate to verify that all relevant academic documents are valid and legal. Such documents are usually issued by your home country or territory of jurisdiction and are available for public reference.

Examples of government-issued documents that may need authentication may include, but not limited to:

  • Marriage certificates;
  • Birth certificates;
  • Copies of Passports
  • Copies of Driver’s Licenses
  • University Diplomas
  • School Transcripts
  • Academic certificates
  • Corporate documents (e.g. articles of incorporation)
  • Adoption papers

However, it is imperative to note that an Apostille cannot be used in countries that are not part of the Apostille Convention, commonly referred to as Non-Hague countries. In this case you need to follow the process known as “Authentication” or “Legalization”.

When Do You Need an Apostille Certificate?

You will need an Apostille certificate if:

  • The country in which you intend to use the document requires an Apostille to recognize that particular document.
  • The country in which you intend to use the document is a member of the Apostille Convention.
  • The laws of the country that has jurisdiction over the document consider it a public document.
  • The country in which the document was issued is a member of the Apostille Convention.

In some cases, you may not need an Apostille certificate even if the two countries are part of the Apostille Convention. This is because some countries may have mutual agreements to exclude certain documents from legalization.

What Does an Apostille Certificate Contain?

An Apostille certificate has specific characteristics you should look out for whenever you need such a document. Given that travelers usually need different certificates before visiting a foreign country, it is possible to mistake a regular document for an Apostille certificate.

Here’s what to expect from an Apostilled document:

  • An official seal and references;
  • Name of the country with jurisdiction over the document;
  • Name of the individual signing the document;
  • The capacity in which the individual signing the document has acted;
  • Name of the authority (agency) certifying the document;
  • Place and date of certification;
  • The certificate number .

Things an Apostille Certificate Can and Cannot Do

Having an Apostille certificate saves you the time and effort you would need to prove that the country of its jurisdiction has issued a particular document. Before the Apostille Convention, it would take weeks or even months to verify the validity and legality of certain documents.

However, it is also important to note that an Apostille only certifies the origin of the document and the legal status of the certifying person, but not its contents.

For instance, if you want to study abroad and have an Apostilled academic degree, the certificate will only verify that the degree is from the stated country of origin and that the person certifying the degree has the authority to do so. However, it will not certify the degree or give it an advantage in your application.

The Difference Between an Apostille and an Authentication Certificate

Legally, the words ‘Apostille’ and ‘Authentication’ certificates have two different meanings.

Here’s why:

Apostilles are documents issued for use in countries that are members of the Apostille Convention. On the other hand, authentication certificates are issued for use in countries that are not members of the Apostille Convention.