Since much of the Christian world is currently celebrating Christmas, it seems
appropriate to discuss the mysterious world of the Apostille. If you have ever
come across this term, you may well have imagined that it refers to a papal
decree or religious sacrament, probably written on parchment and certainly
ancient and revered. However, the mundane truth of the matter is that an
Apostille, as you are likely to encounter it in the modern world, is simply a
humble certification stamp.
If you have ever tried to prove in one country that
you were married, divorced or qualified in another, or if you have been asked to
sign a document in one jurisdiction to be used in another, you were probably
told that you needed an "Apostille". So what is it?
In today's world of
multi-national families, where we live our lives across many countries, we often
need to provide documents in one country which originate in another. An
Apostille is simply the modern method used to confirm that such documents are
authentic. The Apostille is a stamp, attached to a document, which allows the
officials of one country to see that the document produced to them is an
official document from the other country.
The Apostille system is valid for all
countries which are signatories to the Hague Convention Abolishing the
Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, dated October 5, 1961.
These countries include all members of the European Union, the USA, Australia,
South Africa and Israel. Any document from one of these countries can be
"Apostilled" and it will then be accepted as a valid document in any other
Each country has its own procedure for obtaining an Apostille
certification. A local notary, or the consulate of the country where you are
taking the document, should be able to advise how the system works and the
easiest way to get your documents certified.
Q: I live in the North of England,
and am buying an apartment in Tel Aviv. I have been told that certain documents
which I need to sign must be taken to the Israeli consulate in London to be
executed but I rarely go to London. Do I have another option?
A: Since both
Britain and Israel are signatories to The Hague Convention, an alternative to
signing the documents at the Israeli consulate is to have your signatures
witnessed by a local notary who will then arrange to have the documents
certified by Apostille. Israeli consulates around the world are authorized to
provide notarial services and this is the reason that you have been referred to
the consulate in London. However, if you do not live near an Israeli consulate,
then the Apostille certification process provides you with a more convenient
option. After you sign the documents in front of a public notary, the notary can
arrange to have the Apostille certification affixed and these can then be used
to purchase and register your apartment here in Tel Aviv.
This article is presented for your general information and does not constitute
legal advice. You should obtain specific legal advice about your estate before
taking (or deciding not to take) any action. Please contact Caroline for further
information.© SaftWalsh 2011. All rights reserved.