Apostille Convention Now in Force

The Hague Convention on the Abolition of All Forms of Legalization (known as the Apostille Convention) is now in force in Canada. Here is a link to the text of the Convention.

The practical result is that to use Canadian public documents (including confirmation of notarial status and signatures) in about 120 foreign countries, one will not have to go through the two-step process of getting the document authenticated by the province (and/or the federal government) and then ‘legalized’ by the consulate (or embassy) of the country of destination. Here is a list of the countries that are parties to the convention.

Instead, the document can be issued by a ‘competent authority’ in Canada and then sent directly to the proposed user in the foreign country. Who the ‘competent authority’ is depends on what province one is in. For Ontario, it will be the Official Documents Service that has up to now taken care of the authentications.

Here is a note from the Miller Thomson firm about how the convention may affect charities in Canada – but most of the note applies to anyone in Canada with public documents for use abroad. It lists the competent authorities across the country too.

Here is what the government of Canada says about the Convention in operation.

And for those who like history, here is my article from 2011 that may provide a bit more technical background, including why it took us so long to get here. That article also discusses the prospect for electronic apostilles (“e-apostilles”) and for electronic verification of the register that anyone issuing apostilles is obliged to keep. Canada is providing electronic verification for most of the country, in ways described in the document linked to above. Electronic apostilles are contemplated for the future but not yet available here.

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