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Apostille and legalization

 Before documents are brought to another country, they most often have to be certified. Sometimes documents have not to be certified, sometimes - an apostille is necessary, and sometimes - legalization. What determines the authentication method and its necessity?

 Legalization is the procedure for authenticating documents in countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 and is slightly different from apostille. It consists in certifying by the consular officer the conformity with the law of the place where it was issued in order to be used in a country other than that in which it was issued. It is worth noting that legalization does not confirm the authenticity of the document, but only certifies the issuance in the appropriate form, by the competent authority empowered in accordance with local law, and that the seal and signature on the document are not forged.  

Documents from the following countries should be legalized:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, China (excluding Hong Kong, Macao), Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jamaica, Yemen, Jordan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Qatar, Kenya, Congo, North Korea, Cuba, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Senegal, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tanzania, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Vietnam, Côte D'ivoire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates.

Documents shall be legalized by the consular offices of the countries where they are to be used.

The apostille clause confirms the authenticity of official, judicial, notarial, commercial and other documents and the competition of authority to issue such a document. It shall authenticate the signature and the capacity in which the person signing the document acts or the seal of the issuing authority. Most often it is provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country of issue of the document and is used in those countries that signed the Hague Conventions in 1961 (most countries of the world).

It is not always possible to obtain an apostille clause directly on the document. Sometimes it is required to certify in advance by other bodies - in the district court, the Polish Chamber of Commerce or the Ministry of Health. So, for example, before you get an apostille clause on a diploma of a Polish university, you need to go to the National Agency for Academic Exchange, or with a notarial document – to the district court, which is locally competent for a notary.

Should sworn translations be further authenticated? Although translations made by a sworn translator are already certified, an additional apostille clause is often required for foreign countries. It is best to translate documents after the apostille clause is added, so that it contains its translation and was made from the final version of the document, to which nothing was added later.

There are also cases where apostille is not required at all. This applies to the administrative documents trafficking on the territory of the European Union, issued in the member states. As of February 2019, apostille is not required on the following documents:

  • civil status: birth, marriage, death, full name, ability to marry abroad, partnerships;
  • adoption;
  • country of residence or place of stay;
  • nationality;
  • entry in the criminal record;
  • participation in local and European elections.

A document issued in EU member state in this regard should by accepted by any polish authority, in any proceedings without requiring its legalization or apostille, if it is s necessary for the execution of cases. However, in the case of other documents, you need to check with the authority that accepts foreign documents.