← Back to Blog

Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents

Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents

Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents is done either on the basis of the he Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille Convention, or by authentication by legalization.


Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention. A list of these authorities is maintained by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. To be eligible for an Apostille, a document must first be issued or certified by an officer recognized by the authority that will issue the Apostille.

Apostille is the only formality that, under the Convention, may be required so that public documents which have been executed in the territory of one Contracting State may be produced in the territory of all Contracting States, with the power of evidence of public documents of these states. It applies to the documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State, including:

  • court documents;
  • administrative documents;
  • notarial acts;
  • official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.

Authentication by legalisation

A state that has not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other’s public documents, but in practice this is infrequent.

Otherwise, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country in which the document originated, and then by the foreign ministry of the government of the state in which the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an Embassy or Consulate. In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country.

When the legalisation is not required?

The legalization of foreign public documents and Apostille is not required:

  1. When there is a ratified international agreement on the exemption of certain foreign public documents from any kind of legalisation between two countries where the public document will be produced.
  2. When documents issued in one country, based on de facto reciprocity, are not subject to legalization for use in other country.
  3. When the state authority before which the public document issued in one will be used, does not require legalization;
  4. When legalization is not possible due to the nature, character, or type of public documents (travel documents, identity cards, etc.), and when public documents relate to commercial, foreign trade or customs operations, i.e. accompanying the exported or imported goods, and are issued or verified by the competent Chamber of Commerce or customs authorities (customs declarations, invoices, certificates of customs supervision, origin, direct shipment, the end-user, etc.).

If you need more information regarding legalisation of foreign public documents or you need any assistance regarding this process, contact Asst Office.