Countries that have signed The Hague Convention of 05th October 1961, (which includes Cyprus), are part of The Hague Apostille Convention that together created a method of authenticating foreign public documents to be used in contracting or participating countries. The method of the issuance of an Apostille replaced the complex and costly official formalities of the legalization process of documents and applies to documents that have originated in one contracting country and need to be presented in another contracting country. It is a certification that normally supplements a local notarization of a document and is affixed by the competent authorities designated by each country's government.
Therefore, Apostilles are used for the authentication and legalization of public documents to be used abroad and are not normally required for local purposes. If the Convention applies between two member countries, then the country receiving the document should view as sufficient the validity of the seals or stamp and signatures on the document without requesting further evidence of proof.
An Apostille can be placed on either an original document or on a true copy (depending on the requirement) and certifies the signature and capacity of the public official who signed and authenticated the document, for example a notary public solicitor and also authenticates any government seal or stamp on the document. An Apostille is used to verify the legitimacy and authenticity of the origin of a public document without further legalization. It should be noted that the Apostille does not provide a certification of the content or accuracy of the document.
The Convention pertains only to public documents. Public documents are determined by the law of the place where the documents originate. Nevertheless, the most common examples of public documents for which Apostilles are issued are:
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificates
- Divorce Decree Certificates
- Death Certificates
- Identity Cards
- Driver's Licence
The Apostille process requirements are unique to each individual country and can become complicated and complex and should not be left to untrained personnel.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.