What is an Apostille?
Fundamentally, Apostille is a French word meaning ‘certification’. An Apostille is a governmental confirmation of the signature on an original and official document, validating the document for official use in foreign countries.
When carrying out, for instance, an authorised translation the issuing authority will confirm, with the Apostille endorsement, that the translator is state authorised and that the document thereby is officially recognized by the state or government that issued the Apostille. The authority will exclusively confirm the validity of the translator and his/her signature, not the actual correctness of the document’s content which is solely the responsibility of the associated authorised translator.
When a document is endorsed with an Apostille, no further legalisation of the document is needed. An Apostille is valid in about 100 countries that have acceded to the Apostille Convention. All members of the European Union (EU) are included in the Apostille Convention.
In cases where the concerned country does not accede to the Apostille Convention, it is necessary to further legalise the document on the embassy of the particular country.
Apostille in Practice
Every Apostille is provided with a unique number and contains information about the authority that issued the Apostille. At the same time, this information is archived which means that the existence of the legalisation can be confirmed by the authority if the foreign recipient wishes to verify the authenticity of the issued Apostille.
If you are the recipient of a document with a foreign Apostille, you can likewise verify the authenticity by contacting the organ that issued the Apostille in the concerned country.
Who Can Get an Apostille?
Every person or organisation needing to use official documents outside of their resided country can be issued an Apostille endorsement on their documents. Remember, special rules are applied for documents which are issued and signed by private individuals or private companies.
If the document is signed by a private individual or organisation, it is required that the signature is legalised by a Notary before an Apostille can be issued by the authority.
You can only get your documents legalised in the country they were issued. Hence, representatives outside your country cannot issue an Apostille.
Special Rules for Translators
The authority can solely legalise a translated document when the translation is stamped and signed by a state authorised translator.
It differs from each country whether a legalisation is required on both the original and the translated document. The authority charges a fee for each legalisation and we, therefore, recommend to contact the embassy of the concerned country to determine exactly what you need to proceed with your case.
Read more about authorised translation.
What Is the Difference Between a Verification and a Legalisation?
A verification differs from a legalisation because a verification exclusively confirms whether the concerned document is authentic or falsified. In the verification process, the authority must evaluate the original document before a so-called True Copy-stamp and signature can be issued.
Accession of the Apostille
Denmark acceded to the Apostille Convention (Hague Convention) in 2007, meaning that the legalisation-process of official documents is much less complicated for both individuals and organisations.
Before Denmark’s accession to the Apostille Convention in 2007, a document required legalisations from typically 3-4 different authorities.
Today, the majority of all cases require only one legalisation in form of the Apostille endorsement, facilitating the process of legalisation of official documents.
Fees and Formalities
Confer the authority issuing the Apostille in the country where your document was issued to get information about the legalisation fee.
Some documents, like criminal records and marital status, may not be older than three months (from the issue date), to be legitimate for legalisation.
The rules and requirements also differ from country to country. We always recommend contacting your local authority for an exact instruction about the process.