Apostille Translation Services
and Legal Translation of
Public Documents

Foreign Language Certified Document
Translation Services

Certified Translation of Apostilled Documents

Multilingual Apostille translation services are often required these days by businesses and individuals in need of legal translation services. Anyone who has lived in a foreign country may be familiar with the term ‘Apostille’.

When registering as a resident in a foreign country, simply turning in a copy of your birth certificate or marriage license isn’t enough. This is because every country (and state, region, etc.) has their own formats for these types of legal documents, and there is no way for one jurisdiction to verify the authenticity of a document coming from a different jurisdiction. In addition, there’s the issue of the document being in a language other than the official language of the jurisdiction where it is being submitted.

Clearly, as the world becomes increasingly global and people regularly travel and live in different countries, a system for providing authentication of legal documents is needed. That’s why in 1961 numerous countries convened what is now known as the Hague Convention. One of the Convention’s objectives was to establish a process for certain public legal documents to be issued by one foreign government to be accepted as authentic legal documents by another government. The result was the Apostille – a certificate of certification that accompanies an original copy of the public legal document. Since 1961, many countries have signed the Hague Convention, including the United States in 1981.
The Apostille system applies to ‘any public document executed in one subscribing country to another subscribing country wherein the documents need to be produced’. Public documents are defined by the Convention as:

  • Those originating in a court, clerk of a court, public prosecutor or process server.
  • Administrative documents.
  • Notarial acts.
  • Official certificates placed on documents.

Thus, an Apostille is typically used to authenticate birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, school transcripts and diplomas.

Who issues an Apostille depends on the jurisdiction, as each participating country designates the authorities who may issue an Apositlle. For example, in the United States an Apostille is issues by the Secretary of State of the state in which the legal document was issued. Typically a request for an Apostile must be made in person or via the mail and will require a small fee.

Although one of the purposes of the Apostille process was to reduce the need for foreign language translations of public documents, many times a foreign language translation will be required. For example, if the public document is notarized in a foreign language, you will have to attach its English language translation accompanied by the Certificate Of Accuracy signed by the translation company‘s representative.

Up Next: Foreign Language Translation of Wills,
and Enforceability of US Wills
in Foreign Countries