Documents issued in the United States that are to be used in another country must be authenticated or legalized before that country will recognize those documents and give the documents the same legal value they have in the U.S.
Before the Hague Convention the authentication procedure involved multiple authentications by different authorities including a consular officer.
There are several reasons you may need an apostille:
- Adopting a child from another country.
- Getting married in a foreign country.
- Continuing your education overseas.
- Obtaining a new job in another county.
- Conducting business in a foreign country.
- Opening a bank account outside of the US.
Anytime you plan to use a document in a different country for official use, the document must have an apostille attached to it. Think of it as a passport for your documents that allows those documents to travel to other places.
The Hague Convention defines “public documents as:
- Those originating in a court, clerk of a court, public prosecutor or process server
- Administrative documents
- Notarial acts
- Official certificates placed on documents
These types of ‘public documents’ would include birth/death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, school transcripts and diplomas/degrees, among others.