I recently represented an overseas client who sued a U.S. party based on a transaction that took place overseas. The transaction centered on several key affidavits, powers of attorney and attestations that we would need to use in U.S. litigation.
Traditionally, for such documents to be made admissible in U.S. courts, the documents must have been authenticated or “legalized’ by the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country in which the documents originated. And before authentication is possible, the document must have been certified by the foreign ministry of the country of origin.
Folks, the red tape involved can be a real headache and extremely time consuming. This is not what your clients want to hear.
Hague Convention Gives VIP Status to Documents to Be Used Abroad
Fortunately, there’s the Hague Legalization Convention to streamline the authentication of documents for use abroad. The Convention is a multilateral treaty designed to cut through the traditional certification process by relying solely on the convention “apostille.”
The apostille gives any public document VIP status for acceptance into any country that is a party to the Convention. Currently, 98 countries have signed on to the Convention. As one commenter, correctly pointed out–be sure to verify that the target country (ies) are signatories to the Convention before assuming otherwise. You can check here.
U.S. Origin Documents for Use Abroad
In the U.S., all states have authorized their respective Secretaries of State to sign Hague Convention apostilles. Also, the clerk of each federal court has been empowered to issue apostilles for documents originating in that court or contained in the records of cases before that court. Documents originating in state courts are subject to certification by the court clerk and issuance of a convention apostille by the secretary of state.
When you request the apostille, be sure to specify in which country the document is to be used. Once the apostille is issued, it’s ready to be used abroad.
Foreign Documents for Use in the U.S.
To be admissible in the U.S., documents from other countries that are parties to the Convention and the prior certifications of those documents need only be covered by a completed apostille issued by the official of the country of origin. That’s all that is generally required.
The documents certified by apostille do not require legalization by the U.S. embassy or a U.S. consulate in the country where the country originated.
It’s that easy!
What has been your experience with authenticating documents under the Convention?