APOSTILLES & AUTHENTICATIONS
An Apostille is a certificate issued by a designated authority in a country where the Apostille Convention (properly named “Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents”), is in force. Apostille is French for “certificate”. In Australia Apostilles are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of notaries public and on on public documents such as birth certificates, notarials, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority, so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are parties to the Convention.Foreign governments require proof that official documents and the notarial seal and signature of the notary appearing on documents are genuine. This is achieved by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade certifying the stamp and seal the notary which are held at the Department.
Authentications are a similar certificate issued by the Department verifying the signature and seal of the notary or the authenticity of an original document issued by a government official. Generally countries who are not signatories to the Apostille Convention require an authentication. The documents are generally then provided to the Embassy or Consulate of the country of destination for a further legalisation process required by that particular country.
If you have a document for use in more than one country you may need to have one bearing an Apostille and another bearing an Authentication.
A list of countries that are parties to the convention can be found here. You can find out more about Apostilles on Wikipedia and also on the HCCH website.
The Notary, Randal Binnie can advise if an apostille or authentication is required in the country in which it is to be relied upon. However, you should always follow the direction of the country you are dealing with (either government departments or legal advisers) as sometimes apostilles and authentications may not be required. For example, in the United States of America some states require Apostilles (the US is a signatory to the Hague Convention) only in some circumstances eg where documents deal with or touch on land transactions or where documents require lodgement in a government department.