Do you plan to go for higher studies abroad? Do you need to register your foreign marriage certificate in your home country? Do you need a passport copy authenticated internationally? If for any of these questions you responded yes, then you can find this article helpful for you. Sometimes, public documents (like birth or marriage certificates, passport copies, judgements or notarial attestations of signatures) may need to be used in foreign countries. However, before a foreign country can use or accept such document the authentication of it has to be done. Typically, this process is done by legalization wherein the officials of the country where the document was issued as well as the foreign Embassy or Consulate of the country where the document is to be issued authenticate the document. As this process is slow and costly, more than hundred of countries have signed the Hague Convention thereby adopting Apostille Convention that aims to simplify the legalization of documents to verify their authenticity, to be valid internationally.

What is an Apostille and when do I need one?

An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, adoption papers, affidavits, contracts, diplomas and degrees, divorce decrees, incorporation papers, patent applications, powers of attorney, and school transcripts). Apostilles can only be issued for documents issued in one country party to the Apostille Convention and that are to be used in another country which is also a party to the Convention.

You will need an Apostille if all of the following apply:

  • The country where the document was issued is party to the Apostille Convention; and
  • The country in which the document is to be used is party to the Apostille Convention; and
  • The law of the country where the document was issued considers it to be a public document; and
  • The country in which the document is to be used requires an Apostille in order to recognize it as a foreign public document.

An Apostille may not be required if the laws, regulations, or practice in force in the country where the public document is to be used have abolished or simplified the requirement of an Apostille, or have exempted the document from any legalization requirement.

To which documents does the Apostille Convention apply?

The Convention only applies to public documents. Whether or not a document is a public document is determined by the law of the country in which the document was issued. Countries typically apply the Convention to a wide variety of documents. Most Apostilles are issued for documents of an administrative nature, including birth, marriage and death certificates; extracts from commercial registers and other registers; patents; notarial acts and notarial attestations of signatures; school, university and other academic diplomas issued by public institutions.

NOTE: The Apostille Convention does not apply to documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents. The Convention also excludes from its scope certain administrative documents related to commercial or customs operations.

What are the effects of an Apostille?

An Apostille only certifies the origin of the public document to which it relates: it certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document and the capacity in which this was done. An Apostille does not certify the content of the public document to which it relates. Apostilles are strictly for use of public documents abroad.

In which countries does the Apostille Convention apply?

The Apostille Convention only applies if both the country where the public document was issued and the country where the public document is to be used are parties to the Convention. A comprehensive and updated list of the countries where the Apostille Convention applies can be found HERE.

When checking the Status table of the Apostille Convention, always keep the following in mind:

  • Check if both the country where the public document was issued and the country where the document is to be used are listed in either part of the Status table.
  • Check the date of entry into force of the Convention for both countries. Look for the column entitled only after that date can the relevant country issue and receive Apostilles.
  • Check whether the Convention applies to the entire territory of a country or only to parts of it

What do I need to know before requesting an Apostille?

Before you approach a Competent Authority about getting an Apostille, you should consider questions such as:

  • Does the Apostille Convention apply in both the country that issued the public document and the country where I intend to use it?
  • If the country that issued the public document has designated several Competent Authorities, which one is the relevant Competent Authority to issue an Apostille for my public document?
  • Can I get an Apostille for my public document, i.e., is my document considered a public document under the law of the country where it was issued?
  • Can I request an Apostille by mail or must I appear in person? This is particularly relevant if you are living in a country other than the country that issued your public document.
  • If I have multiple documents, will I need multiple Apostilles?
  • Are there other documents or additional information that I need to provide to get an Apostille?
  • How much does an Apostille cost and what forms of payment are available?
  • How long will it take to get the Apostille?

How much does an Apostille cost (in India)?

MEA: A fee of Rs. 50/- is payable for Apostille of each document. Normal Attestation is done free of cost.

Outsourced agencies: As the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is not accepting documents directly from the applicant/individual, all documents for the purpose of Attestation/ Apostille by MEA are to be submitted and collected from the four designated outsourced agencies. The fee chargeable by the outsourced agencies per document for its collection and delivery for Apostille/normal attestation by MEA will be:

  • 22/- (Personal document),
  • 18/- (Educational document)
  • 16/- (Commercial document).

There are designated authorities in every country to issue apostille certificates.

How to get Apostille – general process

apostille-india
Authentication of Document – NOT under Apostille Convention (source: indiafilings)
apostille-india
Authentication under Apostille Convention (source: indiafilings)

All original documents requiring attestation or Apostille should be first authenticated by the designated authorities of the State/Union Territory from where the document has been issued. The Ministry of External Affairs legalizes the documents on the basis of the signature of the designated signing authorities of the State Government/Union Territory/Chambers of Commerce.

Step 1: Authentication of certificates
  • Educational certificates: the certificates should be first authenticated by the State Education Department or HDR
  • For personal certificates: the certificates are to be pre-authenticated by the State home Department or General Administration Department
  • For commercial certificates: the certificates should first be authenticated by the respective Chambers of Commerce
Step 2: Attestation or Apostille of certificates

MEA attests or issues the apostille to the certificates on the basis of the authentication of the designated authorities of the State Government / Union Territory / Chambers of Commerce

Step 3: Legalization from Respective Embassy

This step is undertaken in case of the countries that are not the member of Hague Convention and necessarily needs embassy Legalization

How to get Apostille in India

The Ministry of External Affairs attests original documents//true copies of documents for use abroad. Attestation done by the Ministry of External Affairs is of two types:

  1. Normal Attestation:This is done for all the countries which are not a member of Hague Convention and where Apostille is not accepted.
  2. Apostille:India, since 2005, is a member of the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961 that abolished the requirement of legalization of foreign public documents. Apostille is acceptable in more than hundred member-countries of the Convention (visit HCCH website).

2 ways procedure to get the Apostille

A. E-sanad: E-Sanad (website link) is a project for online submission/verification of documents. CBSE Documents of years 2014 and onwards would be accepted through e-sanad only. After 5 June 2017 Physical copy of CBSE documents of years 2014 and onwards would not be accepted for attestation / apostille.

apostille-e-sanad-india
e-sanad main page

 

apostille-e-sanad-india
e-sanad : process

B. Attestation/apostille of documents not covered under E-sanad:

Step 1 Authentication of documents: All original documents/copies requiring attestation or Apostille should be first authenticated by the designated authorities of the State/Union Territory from where the document has been issued.

  • In case of personal documents, Home/General Administration Department of the concerned State Government/Union Territory are the designated authorities.
  • In case of educational documents, the documents should first be authenticated by the Education Department of the concerned State Government/Union Territory.
  • Commercial Documents are to be pre-authenticated by the respective Chambers of Commerce. The details of the Regional Authentication Centers (RACs) in the states/Union Territories from where pre-authenticated documents are accepted can be downloaded HERE.

Step 2 – Legalisation of documents: The Ministry of External Affairs thereafter, legalizes the documents on the basis of the signature of the designated signing authorities of the State Government/Union Territory/Chambers of Commerce. List for those can be found HERE.

Important note:

  • from July 2012, no document is directly accepted from individuals at the Ministry of External Affairs Counter at CPV Division, Patiala House Annexe, New Delhi.
  • The original document/true copy is to be submitted directly to any of the four under-mentioned outsourced agencies along with a photocopy of the document and a photocopy of the Passport of the applicant.
  • Ministry does not legalize photocopies.
  • Applicant can, however, submit and collect documents directly at the four under-mentioned Branch Secretariats of the Ministry of External Affairs. They also Attest/Apostille documents in addition to MEA.
Sl.No. MEA Branch Secretariat Address
1 Chennai Ministry of External Affairs Branch Secretariat,
68, College Road, E.V.K. Sampath Maaligai,
7th Floor, Numgambakkam,
Chennai -600006.
Phone : 044-28252200044-28252200, 28251323
Email :usbs.chennai@mea.gov.in
2 Guwahati Ministry of External Affairs Branch Secretariat
House No. 307, Beltola, Basistha Road,
Guwahati-781028.
Phone : 0361-22291550361-2229155, 2229156,
Fax : 0361-2229157
Email :hobs.guwahati@mea.gov.in
3 Hyderabad Ministry of External Affairs Branch Secretariat
B-Block, Room No. 310-312,
Andhra Pradesh Secretariat,
Hyderabad-500022
Phone : 040-23456051040-23456051, Fax : 040-23451244
Email :hobs.hyderabad@mea.gov.in
4 Kolkata Ministry of External Affairs Branch Secretariat
2, Ballygunge, Park Road,
Kolkata-700019
Phone : 033-22879701033-22879701, 22802686,
Fax : 033-22879703,
Email :hobs.kolkata@mea.gov.in

Note: W.e.f. October 13, 2016, Attestation/Apostille services have been decentralized to RPOs in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Goa, Mumbai and Trivandrum.


Few important things on apostille. Summary

  1. Make yourself updated – check available online resources:
  2. The information in this post relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only.
  3. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel.
  4. Make yourself patient – going through Indian bureaucracy is hectic and time consuming.
  5. Information provided here is dated September 2017, please check for any updates after this date.

I would love to hear your comments on this! What is your experience in getting the documents apostilled in India? Any other recommendations, suggestions you would like to share? How is the experience from other states? Thank you very much for reading this article. I am curious if you have/had any experience of yours? Any comments? – please share your experience. And if you liked the article – share it, click “Like it” and subscribe to my newsletter.

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