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Not to be confused with Apostle (messenger, esp. Christian) or Apostil, meaning a marginal note or gloss.. The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents is one of the international treaties drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille (a French word meaning certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law. Contents 1 Procedure for signatory States (Apostille) 2 Procedure for non-signatory States (Legalization) 3 References 4 External links // Procedure for signatory States (Apostille) In signatory countries, apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities. (ABCs of Apostilles n.d. p. 13). A list of these authorities is available on the web from the Hague Conference on Private International Law. For example, in the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are usually competent authorities. In the United Kingdom, all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be certified by an officer recognised by the authority that will issue the apostille. For example, in the US state of Vermont, the Secretary of State maintains specimen signatures of all notaries public, so documents that have been notarised are eligible for apostilles. (Authentication 2009). Likewise, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is equipped to verify the signature affixed to any public document issued in the United Kingdom. In some cases, intermediate certifications may be required in the country where the document originates before it will be eligible for an apostille. For example, in New York City, the Office of Vital Records (which issues, among other things, birth certificates) is not directly recognised by the New York Secretary of State. (Birth certificate application 2010) As a consequence, the signature of the City Clerk must be certified by the County Clerk of New York County to make the birth certificate eligible for an apostille. (Crampton 2007, Apostiles n.d.) As of 2010, the Hague Conference on Private International Law provides a list of countries that issue and recognise apostilles at their web site. Procedure for non-signatory States (Legalization) States that have not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other's public documents, but in practice this is infrequent. When such a convention is lacking, as is normally the case, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated and then by the foreign ministry of the government where the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate. In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country. For example, as a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa or by a consular official abroad and subsequently by the relevant government office or consulate of the receiving state. Apostille vs. Legalization An Apostille of the Hague issued by the State of Alabama.   As a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified twice: at the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and subsequently by the consulate of the receiving state (in this case, the Netherlands)   References ABCs of Apostilles. (n.d.). Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 3 August 2010. Apostilles. (n.d.). New York State Department of State. Retrieved 3 August 2010 Birth certificate application. (2010). New York City Department of Health, Office of Vital Records. Authentication of Documents for Foreign Use. (2009). Vermont Secretary of State. Crampton, Thomas. (2007). Getting a NY Birth Certificate with Apostille. Author. Status table. (n.d.). Hague Conference on Private International Law. Retrieved 3 August 2010. External links US State Department information on the Convention Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade information on the Authentication of Documents