An apostille is a certificate attached to an official document (for example, a birth or marriage certificate) that certifies:
- the authenticity of the signature of the public official who signed the document,
- the capacity in which that public official acted, and
- the authenticity of the seal (or stamp) affixed to the document
The Apostille does not validate the contents of the document.
In order that a document issued in one country can be recognized in another country, that document must be legalized or authenticated. For countries that are members of The 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, this legalization process has been simplified. Under The Apostille Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize each other’s official documents if they have an Apostille.
For non-signatories, the legalization of documents is more complicated and requires that the document be authenticated by a consular official.
The word “Apostille” comes from the French verb “apostiller”, which derives from the old French word “postille” meaning “annotation,” and before it the Latin word “postilla”.