Apostille in Canada: What You Need to Know

With 120 countries using the Apostille process and more joining each year, many people are asking when Canada will join the Hague Apostille Convention. While there are reports that Canada is considering the idea, the country is currently not a member. Until then, individuals using Canadian documents internationally need to understand the differences between the terms Apostille, Authentication, and Legalization.

Apostille Definition

The Hague Apostille Convention is an international treaty on Private International Law. It outlines the process for certifying a document issued in one of the signatory countries for legal use in all other signatory countries. This certification is known as an Apostille and acts as an international equivalent to a domestic notarization, usually in addition to a local notarization of the document. This means that a document with an Apostille stamp will be legally valid in every other country that has signed the agreement.

Why You Cannot Get an Apostille in Canada

Canada is one of many countries that have not signed the Apostille Treaty. For more information, see our Apostille Canada Information page. Countries that are not signatories still use the original process of making a document valid for legal purposes in other countries, which is called Authentication and Legalization. That's where Global Document Solutions can help.

Authentication of Documents in Canada

Authentication verifies the genuineness of a document or signature to make it effective and valid. In Canada, this can only be done at the Global Affairs Canada Authentication Services Section in Ottawa, and the process takes 15+ business days. Once the document has been authenticated, Global Affairs Canada will stamp and sign the document, confirming the authority of a public official like a notary public.

Consulate Document Legalization in Canada

The next step is legalization, which is the process of making an authenticated document valid for use in another country. This can only be done at the consulate of the country where the document will be used. Every embassy has specific requirements for legalizing a document, and after verifying the authentication stamp from Global Affairs Canada, the consulate will stamp, seal, and/or sign the document. This makes the document legally valid for use in that country. It's important to note that authentication and legalization from Global Affairs Canada and the consulate do not validate the content of the document, only the authority of the public official who previously signed the document.

Is Apostille the Same as Authentication and Legalization in Canada?

To summarize, an Apostille certification will make a document legally valid in all other signatory countries, while Authentication and Legalization will only make a document legally valid in the country where the consulate has legalized the document. When a document has been authenticated and legalized, it is the equivalent of an Apostille certification.

Navigating the process of authenticating and legalizing a document can be confusing and time-consuming. If you need to Apostille, Authenticate, or Legalize your personal or corporate document, our experts can help.