Apostille Canada Process

Apostille in Canada: What You Need to Know

With Canada's recent accession to the Hague Apostille Convention, effective January 11, 2024, the process of certifying documents for international use has undergone significant changes. Now, Canada is aligned with over 124 countries that utilize the Apostille process, a streamlined method for document certification under the Hague Apostille Convention, an international treaty governing Private International Law.

Apostille in Canada: A New Era

An Apostille certifies a document issued in one signatory country for legal use in all other signatory nations. It serves as an international counterpart to domestic notarization, often in conjunction with local notarization, ensuring that a document with an Apostille stamp is legally valid across all member countries of the Convention.

For Canadians, this means that documents destined for member countries can now be easily certified through the Apostille process. However, for non-member countries, the traditional method of Authentication and Legalization remains in place.

Authentication and Legalization: For Non-Member Countries

While the Apostille simplifies document certification within member countries, the Authentication and Legalization process is still required for countries not part of the Hague Convention.

  1. Authentication: This step involves verifying the authenticity of a document or signature. In Canada, the Global Affairs Canada Authentication Services Section in Ottawa or the provincial competent authority handles this process, which typically takes over 45 business days for Global Affairs. Following authentication, the authentication office stamps and signs the document, affirming the authority of a public official such as a notary public.
  2. Legalization: The final step, legalization, makes an authenticated document valid for use in another country. This is conducted at the consulate of the destination country. Each embassy has specific requirements for legalizing a document. After verifying the authentication stamp from Global Affairs Canada or the province, the consulate stamps, seals, and/or signs the document, legalizing it for use in that country.

It's important to note that neither Authentication nor Legalization validates the content of a document; they only confirm the authority of the public official who signed it.

Apostille vs. Authentication and Legalization

To summarize, Apostille certification legalizes a document for use in all other Hague Convention signatory countries. Authentication and Legalization, however, make a document legally valid only in the country where the consulate has legalized it. Once a document is authenticated and legalized, it is equivalent to having an Apostille certification.

Navigating the intricacies of Apostille, Authentication, and Legalization can be challenging and time-consuming. For those requiring assistance in certifying personal or corporate documents, whether through Apostille or the Authentication and Legalization process, professional guidance is available.