Apostille - The Complete Guide

You might have heard of the term called apostille while you were seeking a visa for planning for your long term stay, it could be higher education, employment or work, temporary or permanent residency. Or perhaps, you are planning for your business growth opportunities in a foreign country. The document legalization is a mandatory procedure to be followed for such scenarios. Certificate Apostille and document apostille are terms that simply mean legalization of your documents and certificates. Although, it has a characteristic that there are several levels of verification and validation before final legalization by the central government. In this guide, you will know everything about the process, cost and how much time does it take to get it done in India.

What is Apostille?

Dictionary explanation for apostille meaning just implicates as a French word that means ‘certification’, and in a formal context, an apostille is basically a formality of proving the authenticity and credibility of the document. When you apostille a document, an apostille sticker and/or an apostille stamp is obtained from the authority. It is a computer generated with a unique identification number and is applied to the back of the document. This maintains a record online and allows the concerned authorities to check the authenticity in a more convenient manner. After this application of the sticker from the MEA, there usually is no need for any added certification from the embassy.

What is Apostille Attestation?

Apostille attestation is a way of attesting the required documents so that they can be made admissible in any country that belongs to the Hague Convention. Document apostille is an attestation of the global level that is legally acceptable in more than 116 countries, most of the European & American countries accept the format. In India, a sticker from Ministry of External Affairs stuck on the back of the document, and again a stamp is rendered on the sticker in a way that it is partially on the sticker and partially on the document.

When is Apostille Required?

Document apostille is required when there is need to eradicate the necessity of document legalization when going to the foreign countries for all sorts of reasons, for instance, obtaining employment visa or work visa, applying for temporary or permanent residency, or for pursuing education on student visa, carrying out deals for business expansion e.g. importing or exporting products. This requirement is mandatory for the countries which are part of the Hague convention.

Hague Convention

The Hague Convention , also called Apostille Hague Convention or Apostille Convention, was signed on 5th of October, 1961 in the town of Luxembourg. However, it only became effective from 14th of January, 1965. The convention was brought into action in order to abolish the necessity of legalization of documents and certificates to make the liberalization among the countries more convenient. When one obtains an apostille on documents, there is no need of same on the documents again for another signatory country. Barriers in trading and other areas have been reduced and there is better accessibility through the nations.

Which countries require apostille of documents?

The Apostille Hague Convention countries that comprise the convention are about 116 in number and apostille of documents is needed for these nations only.

Hague Convention Countries

  • Grenada
  • Kazakhstan
  • Saint Vincent And Grenadines
  • Greece
  • Botswana
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Burundi
  • Dominica
  • Cape Verde
  • Cook Islands
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Bosnia And Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Honduras
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Hong Kong
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Niue
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malawi
  • Morocco
  • Saint Lucia
  • Tonga
  • Philippines
  • Samoa
  • Kosovo
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Belarus
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Guatemala
  • Hungary
  • Macedonia
  • Mauritius
  • Netherlands
  • Andorra
  • Marshall Islands
  • Antigua And Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Namibia
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Vanuatu
  • Sao Tome And Principe
  • New Zealand
  • Poland
  • Turkmenistan
  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Colombia
  • Oman
  • Paraguay
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Trinidad And Tobago
  • UK
  • USA
  • Venezuela
  • Azerbaijan
  • India
  • Mongolia
  • Suriname
  • Macau
  • Saint Kitts And Nevis
  • San Marino
  • Swaziland
  • Seychelles

Apostille in India

India is a developing country which has been growing since independence. The trade, areas of education, employment opportunities, everything spontaneously keeps advancing and with time, the number of citizens going abroad has elevated as well. This brings in the necessity for the issuance of employment visa, student visa resident visa or the requirement of certificate attestation for making business transactions in the foreign.

Apostille in India has aided in the above processes. India has been a member of the Hague Convention since 2005 and is recognized in almost all the Hague countries. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is the central government department that provides a sticker on the documents that contains the details of the applicant which include the name, document name, name of the officer who issued the sticker and stamp and the date of issuance. In India, the validity of the apostille sticker is six months. The procedure is an indirect course of action that involves attestation readily from the regional and the state government before approaching the MEA.

Apostille Procedure

Apostille in India, the procedure has recently been decentralized by the central government. The central body that carries out document apostille is the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The MEA has regionalized apostille process to Branch Secretariats and the RPOs in 15 cities effective from January 1st, 2019. The cities of operation include - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, New Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Panaji, Raipur, and Thiruvananthapuram. Generally, it begins at the local notary from where the document was issued and is followed by the state authentication and then lastly the MEA apostille sticker.
The procedure differentiates when it comes to different types of documents. There primarily are three main types of legal documents - personal, educational and commercial. The procedures are elaborated below:

Personal Document Apostille

It is pretty clear from the term that personal document apostille is the legalization of documents that contain personal data. It comprises the birth certificate apostille and marriage certificate apostille.

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Birth Certificate
  • Divorce Certificate
  • Death Certificate
  • Adoption Deed
  • Medical Certificate
  • Police Clearance Certificate(PCC)
  • Experience Certificate
  • Migration Certificate
  • Passport Copies etc.

The personal document apostille process consists of the following steps
  • Notary Attestation
  • Home Department Attestation or SDM Attestation
  • Apostille from MEA

Asked Qustions

Apostille and attestation aren’t very different aspects, yet, an apostille is required for a set of countries that are a part of the Hague Convention while attestation is done for the rest of the countries. As a proof of apostille, a sticker along with stamp is usually applied on the document; and after the attestation of documents, they are stamped by the central government and are applicable for embassy attestation as well.

The MEA is the authority issue apostille and decentralized its process into 16 cities. But MEA doesn’t accept the application from individuals. The process is lengthy and cannot be approached directly to the government. In order to apply for apostille of documents, you can reach out to professional services to ensure the proper delivery of the task. Certificate Attestations has been a service provider for a time span of about 6+ years and has rendered authentic facilities for the authentication of all kinds of documents. You just need to request an application online and wait for the call from the executive.

Apostille can be issued in the countries which are members of the Hague Convention of 1961. In many countries, It is generally issued by the secretariat of the state. In countries like India, MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) referred as MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs in some countries) is the syndicate of the central government that is authorized to issue an apostille for the document. Although, there are other levels of verifications and certifications that need to be taken care of before eventually acquiring sticker from the MEA. These include the notary and state authentication.

It depends on the type of document you need a document apostille for how long apostille procedure may take. It depends on the document issued state as well, as this process involves attestation from the state government. If you are going for the offline process, it will certainly take about 3-4 weeks, however, if you choose to involve the apostille services to get it done for you then it might actually take a lot lesser time like one or two weeks. Though, it can take much longer if attestation from HRD is involved.

Apostille doesn’t always need to be translated, but it depends on the language of document one posses and language of a foreign country. If the foreign country’s government legal language is different than the document’s language. e.g. Brazil is the country that necessitates translation of the documents. If your document is in any regional language, it needs to be translated in . But it’s not translated directly to Portuguese, first, it needs to be translated in English then to Portuguese. Alongside the apostille sticker on the document in English as well as the one in Portuguese.

You may need apostille if you are traveling to a country which is a member of the Hague convention. It could be for any reason, for instance, if you have plans to pursue education from abroad or carry out a business deal or attain permanent or short-term residency or perhaps just visit the country for tourism. Document apostille is obtained on your personal, educational or commercial documents depending on the purpose of travel.

No, a notary cannot perform the apostille of documents, only the central government, viz., MEA provides the apostille sticker on the document. However, the verification of the document from the notary is mandatory to obtain certification from the state and apostille from the MEA in the case of legalization of personal and educational documents. It is not necessary in case of commercial documents, though attestation from chambers of commerce is necessary for commercial documents.

There is not much difference in both of them. An apostille is a type of authentication for the countries which are members of the Hague convention. Generally, sticker with stamp is attached on the document in case of an apostille. Authentication is nothing but attestation, it’s required in the countries which are not part of such convention.

Legalization is the process of approving the documents from the legal authorities proving their reliability, and apostille is the legalization of the documents for various causes by providing a sticker and stamp. The certificate apostille is required which are part of the Hague convention. In other words, legalization is increasing the credibility of the documents and an apostille is a type of international level of legalization.

An apostille certificate is a certificate that has acquired the apostille sticker and a stamp from MEA. It is a sort of certificate legalization that is granted by the central government of the country where the document was issued. Based on your country of origin, There might be various levels of legalization is necessary before final authentication from the central government. It is also one of the mandatory aspects of obtaining an overseas visa and doing business abroad.

In India, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is responsible for apostille of documents, which is also the department of the central government. In 2019, It is decentralized to branch secretariats and the RPOs in 15 cities - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin, New Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Panaji, Raipur, and Thiruvananthapuram. However, before obtaining the same, there is a need for verification from the state government.

No, an embassy cannot issue the apostille and it is not even required to do so. The Embassy only plays a role for certification while dealing with attestation of documents and is generally irrelevant in this process. Obtaining apostille sticker and stamp from MEA is the final procedure when document legalization and is the only central government branch in charge for the same.