Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention. A list of these authorities is maintained by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Examples of designated authorities are embassies, ministries, courts or (local) governments. For example, in the United Kingdom, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the official authority to issue the apostilles.
To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be issued or certified by an officer recognised by the authority that will issue the apostille. In the UK, some documents such as ACRO Police Certificate, Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate can only be legalised (apostille) if it has been either signed by an official from the issuing authority or certified on the orignial, whilst majority of other documents can be legalised if they are certified by in the UK by a solicitor or Notary Public.
When the solicitor or notary public signs the document, they must:
If they add a notarial certificate, it must be attached to the document. The certificate must also contain a specific reference to the document they have certified.
If a notary public from England, Wales or Northern Ireland signs a document for legalisation, they must also stamp or emboss the document with their notarial seal.
The types of documents that can be legalised:
Some countries accept the documents with an apostille certificate, whileas for others the documents have to be legalised twice before they can be used legally in those countries, i.e. after obtaining an apostille a further legalisation at embassy or consulate office is required. Please click HERE to see details.