What is an apostille?

An apostille is a certificate issued in Ireland by the Department of Foreign Affairs verifying the genuineness of the signature and/or seal of a notary public on a public document. It is the 'gold standard' in terms of assuring the veracity and integrity of a document for use abroad because the notary verifies the signatory's identity and signature and the Department verifies the notary's identity and signature. 

Not all countries or circumstances will require an apostille or legalisation but sometimes the position is not clear/certain. Whether not an apostille or legalisation will be needed will be determined by the rules applying in the country in which the document will be used (ie not in Ireland). If in doubt, it is often worth the extra time and expense to have your documents apostilled because the absence of an apostille cannot then be used as a reason to reject your document when it needs to be used abroad. 

An apostille is sometimes referred to as a ‘fast-track’ version of the more convoluted legalisation process that applied in Ireland until 1999. Under the Hague Apostille Convention the great majority of countries have agreed a streamlined and simplified legalisation process. Legalisation is still needed for countries that have not signed up to the Hague Convention.

Legalisation better describes the process (outside the Hague Convention Apostille regime) whereby the Department of Foreign Affairs verifies the notary's identity and signature and the consulate or embassy of the country in which the document will be used verifies the authentication by the Department.

The apostille certificate is attached to the public document required to be apostilled. It is obtained by presenting the document at the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which in Dublin is now in the same building as the Dublin Passport Office at Knockmaun House, 42-47 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, open Monday to Friday (except Wednesday) 9:30 to 12:30 and 14.30 to 15.30, The normal consular fee payable is €40 per document.

What is legalisation?

Legalisation (in some countries spelled ‘legalization’) is an internationally recognised procedure for certifying the authenticity of official signatures and/or official seal applied to a public document. It operates by means of an unbroken chain of verifying signatures commencing with that of the first signatory to the document and ending with the signature of the diplomatic or consular representative of the state in which the document is to produced and acted upon.

The legalisation procedure usually commences with the attestation by a notary public of the signature of a person to a formal document (e.g. a power of attorney or corporate certificate). The notary public having signed and sealed the document, it is then produced at Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin for the purpose of having the signature of the notary verified and finally it is produced to the diplomatic or consular representative in Dublin (or London) of the foreign country in which it is intended the document shall be produced for the purpose of having the Irish Consular Officer’s signature legalised.

When all the foregoing steps have been completed, the document is said to have been legalised.

What countries have signed the Hague Apostille Convention?

You will be able to obtain a Hague Convention Apostille in order to make your documents fit for use in each of these jurisdictions. 

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, China (Hong Kong), China (Macao), Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Kohpeemee, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela

What countries have not signed the Hague Apostille Convention?

You will not be able to use a simplified Hague Convention Apostille in these countries. Many of them do not have embassies or consulates in Ireland so documents will need to be processed in UK or elsewhere and you should plan accordingly for processing delays of 10 to 30 days.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burma Myanmar, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Congo Republic, Congo Democratic, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Frawde, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar Burma, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Togo, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE (United Arab Emirates), Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe