If an authority requires you to provide an apostille or superlegalization and you not only have little idea what it means, but also find it hard to find any sense in all those laws, regulations, exceptions, etc., just keep calm. We will translate all the information into an intelligible language for you. First of all, you always need to find out what you need. See our previous article here.
Which documents will you probably need to verify using an apostille or superlegalization?
Personal identity documents (birth certificate, marriage certificate, death certificate, extract from the criminal register, citizenship certificate, divorce certificate, residence certificate, …)
Corporate documents (extract from the companies’ register, tax domicile certificate, …)
Documents relating to education (school certificate, diploma, …)
Do we know everything we need? Let’s take a look at the differences between an apostille and superlegalization:
An apostille is a clause issued by the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (depending on the type of document to be verified). This clause confirms that the certified document is valid in the country of issue. The point is that not many people will know, for example, what a Latvian birth certificate should look like and what details it contains. Therefore, apostilles serve as a way of guaranteeing the authenticity of the document.
It is important to know that this validation can only be obtained in the country in which the document was issued. For example, if you have a Bulgarian birth certificate, only a Bulgarian ministry will give you an apostille. If you are not in Bulgaria, the fastest way is to call the Embassy of Bulgaria and seek their assistance.
In some cases (and in some countries) an apostille is not enough on its own, and it is necessary to provide an additional verification, which is called superlegalization.
This confirmation can be obtained from the embassy of the country requesting this document.
So if you are Czech and want to have a wedding in Honduras, for example, you will have your Czech birth certificate verified by an apostille at a ministry in the Czech Republic and then visit the Embassy of Honduras (which may not be in the Czech Republic; for example, Honduras has its embassy for the Czech Republic in Berlin). This embassy performs superlegalization to confirm that the apostille in question is valid and that the document can be used in Honduras.
One thing may not be clear, though. Why is it that sometimes no apostille is needed, while elsewhere an apostille is not enough and one needs such an extra superlegalization?
The reason lies in international agreements between individual countries. Some countries have bilateral agreements which make it unnecessary to verify public documents (such as those mentioned at the beginning of this article). In such cases, a certified translation is often sufficient.
Examples of countries who have signed such an agreement with the Czech Republic include Poland, France, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Italy, Spain, Ukraine and many others.
Other countries cooperate on the basis of the Hague Apostille Convention, according to which it is often sufficient to provide an apostille using the procedure described above. For a complete list of countries, please click here.
Finally, there are countries with which we have no such agreement and which will most probably require extra superlegalization.
However, it is essential to keep in mind that the institution to which you need to submit documents may have specific requirements and it is not enough to rely strictly on the category to which the country belongs. It is always advisable to contact the end recipient for details to avoid complications.
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