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The Apostille Certificate is the result of a Hague Convention abolishing the requirement for legalisation.
Hague Conventions are created by agreement of members of the Hague Conference on Private and International Law.
What is the Hague Conference on Private and International Law?
The Hague Conference is a global organisation created to bring together the different legal systems that exist in each member country with a view to simplifying legal activities which involve the jurisdiction of two or more countries.
The conference held its first meeting in 1893 and it became a permanent inter-governmental organisation in 1955, upon entry into force of its Statute.
Legal Activities can be personal and family or commercial in nature. Member states adopt special rules known as “private international law” rules.
The Hague Conference is often referred to in its French translation which is "La Conférence de La Haye de droit international privé" or abbreviated to "La Conférence de La Haye" or "HCCH."
What are Hague Conventions?
When members of The Hague Conference meet they come together to negotiate and agree on rules being put in place that ensure all members act in a certain way when dealing with a specific issue. This agreement is called a Convention and all members that adopt a convention agree to follow the rules and requirements of that specific Convention. Thus making legal activities in that particular area more standardised from one member country to another.
Not all members of the Hague Conference automatically adopt every Convention.
Conventions are regularly reviewed to ensure they are still achieving what was intended.
Who are the members of the Hague Conference?
As at October 2014 there were 77 members of the Hague Conference most of which are listed on the following page – Countries which recognise an Apostille Certificate – The countries listed on this page are only those that have specifically adopted the Convention relating to Legalisation of documents by Apostille so some member countries are missing.
Which Convention created a need for Apostille Certificates?
Convention 12 entered into force in January 1965, the full title of the Convention is - Convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents.
The purpose of this convention is to remove the need for diplomatic or consular legalisation of foreign public documents. In place of the then complex and drawn out legalisation process was to be a simple certificate issued to a specific format. This certificate being the Apostille Certificate which once attached to a document would remove the need for any further authentication or legalisation of the document when presented in another member country.
How does this affect document legalisation for non member countries?
The Apostille process has improved document legalisation for many non-member countries as they will often accept a foreign document once it has been issued with an Apostille Certificate and then legalised at the Consular section of their own embassy in the foreign document’s country of origin.
This is not always the case, please contact us for advice.
How do I get an Apostille Certificate for my documents?
Although the Apostille Certificate has greatly simplified the legalisation process the actual procedure of obtaining an Apostille does vary from one document to another. Please visit the following page for further guidance on obtaining an Apostille Certificate - Apostille Service.