What is an Apostille?

Apostille is a French word, which means a certification.

Often one needs copies of notarized documentation to utilize them in the international arena. However, most states do not recognize simple certified copies.

It is often difficult to obtain notarized documents according to the laws and regulation in a foreign country. Consequently, there is an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the Legalization Convention the Authentication Act.

Some believe that an American Public Notary is capable of notarizing documents. This, however, is not the case. According to the requirements, nearly anyone can become a Public Notary. In the United States, a law degree is not necessary to become a Public Notary!

With regard to the notarization of documents, an Apostille can be submitted.

An Apostille is the simplified form confirming the legality of a document that is used for the purpose of an application in a foreign country, or as the case may be in Germany, where the authenticity of a signature is confirmed through a domestic accredited agency without the assistance of a Consulate.


When do you need a Apostille?

Documents issued in one country which need to be used in another country must be “authenticated” or “legalized” before they can be recognized as being valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals are placed on the document. Examples of documents are: powers of attorney, affidavits, birth, death and marriages records, incorporation papers, deeds, patent applications, home studies, and other legal papers.
The number and type of authentication certificates you will need to obtain depend on the nature of the document and whether or not the foreign country is a party to the multilateral treaty on “legalization” of documents.

First, if your document is intended for use in a country which is a party to a treaty called the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (“Hague Legalization Convention”) obtaining a special “Apostille” certificate is generally all that is required.
The following must be done:

1. you need to obtain an original or a copy notarized by a U.S. public notary, and
2. you need to contact one of the state authentication authorities to obtain the Apostille.

Second, if the country where the document will be used is not a party to the Convention, you will have to begin the cumbersome, time-consuming process of obtaining a series of certifications known as the “chain authentication method”. This is literally a paper chase in which authorities will have to attest to the validity of a succession of seals beginning with your document and ending with the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States.

Whether or not an Apostille is enough depends on interstate agreements and varies by case.

In the event that an Apostille is not enough, for instance, with regard to inheritance documentation, then a general consulate needs to be contacted.

In the event that an Apostille is not enough, for instance, with regard to inheritance documentation, then a general consulate needs to be contacted. In the USA there are 9 general German consulates assigned to districts.