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What is the ‘Apostille’?

Business 1IN many cases in which public documents granted abroad need to be valid in Spain, there is an stamp called “Apostille of The Hague Convention” or simply “Apostille”.

It certifies that such a document granted abroad is valid within the countries which have signed the Convention of The Hague of 1961.

For instance, a document granted in the UK (a Death Certificate, perhaps) is valid within the UK territory. But if you want this document to be valid abroad (in this case, Spain) it must be legalised with the Apostille.

In the UK the document is usually notarised and apostilled through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Apostille is a simplified method of legalising public documents to verify their international authenticity. Physically, it  consists of a sheet of paper attached to the reverse of the document.

It is an alternative method of legalisation and valid within all State members of the Convention (also known as Conference of International Private Law of The Hague of  5th October 1961). In some countries it can be obtained electronically.

There are more than 100 State members of The Hague Organisation, and many others who are not members of the Organisation but are part of the Convention.

Public documents are those issued by an authority of the jurisdiction of the State (including Public Prosecutor, clerks, or judicial agent documents).

They also include administrative documents, notary documents and official certificates joined to private documents (to certify a date or a signature).

The Convention is not applicable to documents issued by diplomatic or consular agents,or commercial or custom operations.

Usually, the Apostille is required in an inheritance of a foreigner who died, leaving property in Spain. To transfer the property to his/her inheritors, many documents granted abroad are needed in Spain.

These documents must be legalised with the Apostille and officially translated into Spanish (although within the UE, some public documents are printed in all European official languages and do not need translation).

This procedure is completely different from a proceeding of “Exequatur”, or recognition and enforcement of foreign judgements issued abroad.

Within the European Union, following the original idea of Brussels Convention and Lugano Convention, there is a Regalement of European Parliament and Council applicable to civil and commercial law matters.


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