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  • Writer's pictureBrian Klein

Going Global - Your Guide to Apostilles for Document Use Around the World

Updated: May 6

Blof header graphic.  Going global -  your guide to apostilles for document use around the world

If you've ever needed to authenticate documents for use in another country, you've likely heard the term "apostille." If you are hearing it for the first time, don't worry, in this week's blog post we will explain it to you in easy to understand terms.

What is an Apostille?

Starting at the beginning, an apostille is a certification that verifies the authenticity of a document for use in a foreign country. It's like a stamp of approval that ensures your document will be recognized and accepted abroad. The word's etymology is from the French language from the term "apostiller," meaning to add notes.

Apostilles are issued by designated authorities in the country where the document was issued.

What are Apostilles Used For?

Apostilles are used for a variety of legal and official documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption papers, academic diplomas, and more. Essentially, any document that needs to be recognized in another country may require an apostille.

The Hague Convention and Its Purpose

The Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention) also known as the Hague Convention, is an international treaty that simplifies the process of legalizing documents for international use. It was established to eliminate the need for cumbersome and time-consuming embassy legalization procedures. As of this writing, there are over 125 countries that are party to the Hague Convention, with more considering joining it.

The main purpose of the Hague Convention is to streamline the authentication process by standardizing the format of the apostille certificate. This makes it easier for participating countries to recognize and accept foreign documents without the need for additional authentication.

Types of Documents That Usually Need an Apostille

Picture of a dociments being prepared for use overseas.

As mentioned above, various types of documents may require an apostille for international use. Some common examples include:

  • Personal Documents: Birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees & adoption papers.

  • Education Documents: Academic transcripts and diplomas.

  • Legal Documents: Power of attorney documents, court documents & affidavits.

  • Business Documents: Articles of incorporation, certificate of good standing, contracts & business agreements.

Steps to Get an Apostille for a Document

Now that you understand what an apostille is and why it's important, let's walk through the steps to obtain one for your document:

  1. Identify the Issuing Authority: Determine which authority in your country is responsible for issuing apostilles. In the United States, this is typically the Secretary of State's office or the Department of State, depending on the type of document. NOTE: The apostille needs to be requested in the state are currently located!

  2. Gather Your Documents: Collect the original document that needs to be apostilled. Make sure it's a certified copy if required and allowed.

  3. Complete Any Necessary Forms: Some issuing authorities may require you to fill out an application form or provide additional information. Make sure to complete these forms accurately and thoroughly.

  4. Submit Your Documents: Either in person or by mail, submit your documents to the designated authority along with any required fees.

  5. Wait for Processing: The processing time for apostilles can vary depending on the issuing authority and the volume of requests. Be patient and plan ahead if you have a deadline.

  6. Receive Your Apostilled Document: Once processing is complete, you'll receive your document back with the apostille attached. Congratulations, your document is now ready for international use!

Embassy Legalization

Picture of a foreign embassy.

In some cases, especially for countries that are not party to the Hague Convention, embassy legalization may be required instead of an apostille. Embassy legalization involves a similar process of verifying the authenticity of a document, but instead of an apostille, it's authenticated by the embassy or consulate of the destination country.

This process can be more complex and time-consuming than obtaining an apostille, as it often requires additional steps such as notarization, certification by the Secretary of State, and authentication by the embassy or consulate.

Navigating the world of document legalization can seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and assistance, it's entirely manageable. Whether you need an apostille for your birth certificate, marriage license, or academic diploma, Blue Ink Notary is here to help.

Remember, apostilles are your passport to international recognition and acceptance of your documents. By understanding the process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be well on your way to successfully legalizing your documents for use abroad.

If you have any questions or need assistance with obtaining an apostille, don't hesitate to reach out to Blue Ink Notary. We are here to guide you through the process and ensure your documents are properly authenticated for international use.

Happy legalizing!


Blue Ink Notary, based in Greater Reading and serving Berks County as well as Lancaster, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, has been helping numerous Pennsylvania residents and businesses get their documents notarized since 2019. I am generally available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm but am also available for emergency early morning, evening & weekend appointments to help you with your documents, so contact me any time with questions. 

To discuss your notary needs:

📲 Call or text 484-509-1405 

🖥️ Visit online at and message us in our chat box in the lower right corner of your screen or visit the Contact Us page.

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