Apostille Definition

Apostille is a special certification or seal that authenticates the validity of a document, such as legal contracts or corporate records, for international use, simplifying the process of verifying its legitimacy across different countries.

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Apostille Definition and the Hague Convention

An apostille’s definition can only be understood within the context of the Hague Convention of 1961. The United States is a party to the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is an agreement between countries. The Hague Convention abolished the requirement of the legalization of foreign public documents. This means that countries that signed this agreement legally recognize public documents issued by each other as long as the document includes a special certification. This special certification is called an apostille. 

Obtain an Apostille: Steps

There are several steps that help explain an apostille’s meaning. 

Hague Convention Countries

First, a person needs to use a publicly filed document in another country. For example, you may need an apostille to certify your LLC formation documents for use in another country. Both countries must have signed the Hague Convention of 1961. As a result, the certification provided by an apostille is recognized by both parties.

Notarize and Certify the Document 

The person next must get that document notarized by a licensed notary public. Then, you need to have the notary’s signature certified by a government official. In New York, for example, you’d need to go to the county clerk to have the signature certified.

Request the Apostille from the Government

Lastly, the person can now request a government-issued certification. This special certification is called an apostille. You can apply for an apostille from your state’s Secretary of State. Then, you can apply for an apostille from the U.S. Secretary of State.

Depending on the country where you’re submitting the document, you may only need a state-issued apostille. Some countries also require that the U.S. government issue the apostille. 

Apostille Benefits

One of an apostille’s advantages is that a foreign country must automatically recognize your document as legally valid. Although obtaining an apostille may seem cumbersome, it is worthwhile. Countries that aren’t a part of the Hague Convention may require you to take additional steps to authenticate your document. Or worse, they may not recognize your document at all.

Apostille Considerations

One of the apostille disadvantages is that it can be a complicated process to obtain one. There are many steps involved in securing an apostille. However, once you have it, you will be able to present it for use in another Hague signatory country.

Apostille Examples

Here’s an example of an apostille’s business definition. Let’s say your Delaware-formed corporation would like to operate in a country that is a party to the Hague Convention. That country doesn’t require you to form a new corporation or subsidiary to do business there. That country just needs an apostille certifying your corporation’s Articles of Incorporation. 

Once you go through the process of obtaining an apostille for your Articles of Incorporation, you can now file them with that foreign country. You can set up business there under your original corporate name. Of course, you may still need to take additional steps to operate there. But the point of the apostille is that the foreign country recognizes your corporate documents as valid.

We Can Help

Navigating the worldwide challenges of running a business can be complicated. That’s why we’re here to help. We can help you get your business up and running with our Business Formation services. Plus, we are here to help you with your business’s ongoing compliance issues. We have a Worry-Free Compliance service to ensure your business stays compliant throughout the year. Our customer support team is also standing by whenever you have a question about starting or growing your business. 

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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