Apostille Certificates and Hague Conventions
Ever wondered what an Apostille Certificate is, or how they came to be? Unfortunately, often people learn the hard way – and at difficult times – about Apostille Certificates when handling probate matters on overseas estates.
An Apostille Certificate can certainly be advantageous when handling legal documentation across countries, as they simplify and speed up processing.
The Hague Conference was first held in 1893, with the aim of simplifying legal activities between its member countries.
Hague Conventions are created by members of the Hague Conference, and cover Private and International Law. A Hague Convention stipulates how member countries standardise a specific legal process between jurisdictions.
At present, there are over 70 members of the Hague Conference, but each Convention is not automatically adopted by all member countries.
What is an Apostille Certificate?
An Apostille Certificate is a form of legalisation of documents that avoids the need for consular or diplomatic approval.
Hague Convention 12 – the “Convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents” – came into force in January 1965.
With a simple Apostille Certificate issued to specific standard format, no further legalisation or authentication of documents is necessary when presented into another member country. For example, an Apostille Certificate could be use in validating an individual’s identity or documentation for visa processing in another member country.
Will an Apostille Certificate be accepted in a non-member country?
If a country is not a member of the Hague Conference, they may accept foreign document if it’s been issued with an Apostille Certificate and then legalised at their own Consular section in the originating country.
Apostille Certificates and Grant of Probate
Apostille Certificates are commonly required when managing probate and estate matters across countries. For example, if a deceased person held assets overseas, legal processes will involve legal documentation which will likely need Apostille Certification.
If a country is a member of a Hague Convention, then an Apostille Certificate will likely be recognised for processing of Grant of Probate, Death Certificates and wills. Having an Apostille Certificate will often simplifying processing of estate matters, and in some cases may even reduce the amount of documentation required.
Conclusion: Apostille Certificates can certainly make life easier
If you work across countries, for instance as an expat , you may need Apostille Certificates to process residency or even visa applications.
Although specialist advice from independent and experienced legal advisors and financial planners should always be sought, having your legal documents validated with an Apostille Certificate could be extremely useful.