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Document Legalization & Apostille Explained

11 August 2010 | FrontPage,News

Document Legalization & Apostille Explained

Document Legalization refers to the four-step process in which documents are certified as authentic or genuine prior to being used in countries that are not signatory (adjective form, not noun form) to the “Hague Convention”. There are four standard steps needed to have a document recognized as legally binding and bona fide by foreign governments, agencies and corporations. These steps are as follows:

  1. The document is notarized by a public notary in the State of origin or in Washington, DC.
  2. The document is then certified by the Secretary of the State in which the document was notarized, or the DC Office of Notary Commissions & Authentications if notarized in DC.
  3. The document is then authenticated by the US Department of State Authentication Office (they authenticate the certification by the State or the District of Columbia
  4. The document is then legalized by the consular office at the Embassy of the country where the document will be used.
  • An important additional step is often required for specialized or technical documents — agricultural, commercial, economic, energy, military and scientific documents need additional consular review and approval.

Countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention and need to have full Document Legalization are the following:

Afghanistan Algeria


Bahrain Bangladesh Benin
Bolivia Brazil Burkina Faso
Burma/Myanmar Burundi Cambodia
Cameroon Canada Chad
Chile China Congo Republic
Congo Democratic Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire
Cuba Denmark Egypt
Eritrea Ethiopia Ghana
Guatemala Guinea Haiti
Indonesia Iran Iraq
Jamaica Jordan Kenya
Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos
Lebanon Liberia Libya
Macedonia Madagascar Malaysian
Mali Mauritania Morocco
Myanmar/Burma Nepal Nicaragua
Niger Nigeria Oman
Pakistan Paraguay Peru
Philippines Qatar Rwanda
Saudi Arabia Senegal Sierra Leone
Singapore Sri Lanka Sudan
Syria Taiwan Tajikistan
Tanzania Togo Thailand
Tunisia Turkmenistan United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Uganda Uruguay Uzbekistan
Vietnam Yemen Zambia

Apostille refers to the two-step process in which documents are certified as authentic or genuine prior to being used in countries that are signatory to the “Hague Convention”.  Signatories to The Hague Convention require that documents have: one, been notarized; and two, that they are then certified. Government/Federal documents need to be authenticated by the originating countries’ foreign affairs ministry (in the US, the Department of State in Washington, DC).

Countries that are Signatories to the Hague Convention and require an Apostille are the following:

Albania Antigua
Argentina Armenia
Australia Austria
Azerbaijan Bahamas
Belarus Belgian
Belize Botswana
Bulgaria Columbia
Croatia Cyprus
Czech Republic Dominican Republic
Ecuador El Salvador
Estonia Fiji
Finland France
Georgia Germany
Greece Honduras
Hong Kong Hungary
India Italy
Iceland Israel
Japan Kazakhstan
Paul C. Hofford
Operations Manager
Washington Express, LLC
12240 Indian Creek Court
Beltsville, MD  20705