Did you know that an official document, signed with a seal, does not necessarily have the certified value that you imagine? In fact, not everyone will give it the same value.

You need to be able to prove the authenticity of your documents when you travel, even abroad. This requires a legal approach, which you can seek from legal professionals who are experts in apostilles. Here we look at what apostilles and legalization are, and which documents they can cover.

Apostilles and legalization: what you need to know to avoid unpleasant surprises

If you live in California, for example, you can start the analysis and certification process by using a California apostille service. But you can also call on the same legal professionals to have your documents legalized. Before going into the details of these services, it is important to clarify where the boundary lies between the two types of work.

Apostille or certification consists of validating the identification details of the body that issued the official document(s), without validating the content: it is a guarantee of the document’s authenticity.

Legalization, on the other hand, takes into account the validity of the entire document in the country where you wish to use it, by having its total value certified beforehand. This is particularly useful and necessary when the request concerns the use of a document in a country that is not a signatory to The Hague Convention. On the other hand, signatory countries, following a uniform process, will be able to make do with an apostille.

Documents covered by apostille and legalization

Whether the question is one of equivalence of value between two States in the United States of America or in another country in the world, the answers must be obtained in accordance with recognized legal procedures.

In the case of apostilles, this applies in particular to documents of a personal nature, such as:

  • marriage certificates ;
  • birth certificates ;
  • death certificates ;
  • divorce decrees ;
  • criminal records ;
  • etc.

But also more professional documents or documents relating to training and studies, such as invoices, recruitment documents, school reports and university diplomas. In all cases, without calling into question the content of the documents, the aim is to provide proof of their authenticity. Once the signatures and seals have been checked, an apostille may be issued, in the form of a guarantee stamp affixed to the document.

In the case of legalization, which has an intrinsic international scope, the document validation process consists of submitting the documents to administrations that are the only ones authorized to legalize them. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassy, consulate: there are various players capable of legalizing a document for use abroad. Once again, this type of complex legal procedure requires the services of professionals who can follow the process step by step and ensure that there are no procedural flaws that could jeopardize the whole process.

Using lawyers who specialize in these procedures will also enable you to deal with your case within an acceptable timeframe. Note that this may still take several weeks, depending on the need and the document concerned.


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