You might have come across this term, Hague Apostille Convention. Do you know its meaning? Probably not! The term looks very daunting. But don’t worry, as Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name!” This term looks daunting, but the meaning behind it is very simple and easy to understand. In this article, we will break down this convention into small steps which will be easier for you to understand. This way, you would also be able to benefit from this important international convention.
The full name of the Hague Apostille Convention is The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961, abolishing the Requirement of Legislation for Foreign Public Documents. It was drafted by an organization called the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). This convention has been signed by more than 100 countries which makes it very viable in the market. According to this convention, public documents are considered to be:
- Administrative documents
- Notarial acts
- Documents issued by a competent court or tribunal
- Certificates that are attached to documents signed by persons in their private capacity. For example, official certificates that proves the registration of a document by an individual, or certificate that proves that the said document was in existence when the certificate was issued, etc.
The life of people has become a bit easier in all the countries that have accepted this convention. This is because, in all those countries, we no longer need to have our documents legalized by any one country’s consular or diplomatic service. Moreover, we can simply present our documents to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which will verify that the signatures and seal in your document are authentic. This is a very important step because this reduces the chances of making fake documents. There are people who will make a fake document and copy the signature and seal. Those types of documents will easily be rejected in this step. After verifying the authenticity of your document, DFAT will place an Apostille on your document. So, what is an Apostille? Apostille is another certificate that proves that the document is authentic and has been verified by DFAT.
Only 100 countries follow this convention. What about countries that don’t follow this? What will happen to your documents in those countries?
In countries that don’t follow the Hague Apostille Convention, you will have to contact the Consulate or Embassy of that country and understand what procedure they have. Some countries have a very expensive and lengthy procedure to legalize documents. It is important to note here that in Commonwealth countries, including New Zealand, authentication or legalization of Australian public documents is not required. You can contact a public notary in this regard.
They will have a better understanding of the laws followed in their particular country, and they would be able to assist you in getting your documents legalized.
So, in conclusion, we can say that this Hague Apostille Convention makes it easier for documents to be recognized across the world.