Apostille blogI came across the word Apostille today and have to confess I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. A few Google clicks later and I found that the word simply means “Certification”.

Have you heard of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille Convention, or the Apostille Treaty? It is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

The convention specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an Apostille (French: certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarisation of the document.

The Convention abolishes the requirement of diplomatic and consular legalisation for public documents originating in one Convention country and intended for use in another. For the purposes of the Convention, public documents include:
(a) documents emanating from a court,
(b) documents issued by an administrative authority (such as civil records), and
(c) documents executed before a notary. Such documents issued in a Convention country which have been certified by a Convention certificate, called an “Apostille”, are entitled to recognition in any other Convention country without any further authentication.

How to get a UK document legalised

You can get a UK public document ‘legalised’ by asking the UK government to confirm that a UK public official’s signature, seal or stamp on the document is genuine.

You might need to do this if a local authority abroad has asked you to provide a document and they’ve said it must be legalised.  For details, visit www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised


The Permanent Bureau – www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=text.display&tid=37 – has produced a series of three publications on the practical operation of the Apostille Convention.

  • The ABCs of Apostilles is a brochure that is primarily addressed to users of Apostilles with short answers to frequently asked questions, including when, where and how Apostilles are issued and what their effects are. Download here.
  • How to Join and Implement the Hague Apostille Convention is a brief guide that is designed to assist authorities in new and potential Contracting States in implementing the Convention. Download here.
  • The Apostille Handbook is a comprehensive reference tool that is designed to assist Competent Authorities in performing their functions under the Apostille Convention, as well as address issues that arise in the contemporary operation of the Convention. Download here.

Countries which accept the Apostille Certificate

For a list of Countries which accept the Apostille Certificate, please visit onesmartplace.com/featured-zones

Martin Pollins
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