What is the difference between notarization, apostille and legalization?
is the official fraud-deterrent process conducted by a notary public commissioned by a public authority to help deter fraud. It is often a three-part process that includes vetting, certifying, and record-keeping. Notarizations are sometimes referred to as "notarial acts." By notarizing a document by a duly commissioned and impartial notary public, this gives the assurance that a document is authentic, that its signature is genuine, and that its signer acted without duress or intimidation, and intended the terms of the document to be in full force and effect.
An apostille is an international certification affixed either to the original legal document or to a notarized copy of the original legal document that allows confirming the authenticity of the signature, capacity and seal of the said document’s emitter. It is obtained and used in the countries part to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (“Hague Apostille Convention”). It eases the acceptance by authorities or regulated operators like banks of documents originating from another Member State. For the full list of countries part of the Hague Apostille Convention.
Apostilles are affixed by competent authorities designated by each Member State. For instance, the apostille is affixed by the Belgian/Luxembourg Mistery of Foreign Affairs which is also known as the legalization office which can create confusion with the legalization procedure.
allows a Belgian/Luxembourg document to be used abroad or a foreign document to be used in Belgium/Luxembourg. Legalization procedures frequently include several steps. In some cases, your document must be legalized by the competent Belgian/Luxembourg authority before the FPS Foreign Affairs can affix the legalization/apostille required for use abroad.
The legalization is an alternate authentication procedure applicable mostly when the Hague Apostille Convention is not applicable. The procedure may vary from one country to another. Usually, it implies that the document will be legalized by an authority of the originating country, such as the Foreign Ministry in some countries, which own authentication will then be legalized by the Embassy or Consulate of the receiving country. The representation’s certification may in turn be certified by Foreign Ministry. In practice, this means that the document must be certified several times – the international legalization process may possibly consist in a sequence of 4 or more consecutive legalizations – by different authorities before the legalization may have a full legal effect in the country where the document ought to be used. This is the case, for instance, in the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) or Canada as these countries are not part of the Hague Apostille Convention.
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