The Handbook Of The Apostille Convention*

Author:Mr Antonio Vázquez
Profession:Abogados Sierra y Vazquez

The Hague Convention of October 05, 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (the Hague Convention, Apostille Convention or the Convention) is the most accepted and applied of all the international treaties in the area of international legal and administrative co-operation. The final text of the Convention was adopted by the Hague Conference at its Ninth Session on October 26th 1960 and was first signed and ratified on October 5th 1961 by 21 countries. Nowadays the Hague Convention is in force in more than 100 States from all major regions representing all major legal systems of the world, but two third of them had joined in the preceding 25 years alone, demonstrating the exponential growth of the Convention.

The purpose of the Convention was to abolish the requirement of legalization and to facilitate the use of public documents abroad. The legalization procedure was based in the certification of authenticity of a signature, seal or stamp on a public documents by a series of public official along a "chain" that typically involved a number of links, which resulted in a lengthy and costly process. By introducing a simplified authentication process, the Convention facilitates the use of public documents abroad. Ideally, this purpose is pursued by allowing all public documents to be apostilled directly without the need for prior authentication within the State of origin. Indeed, this "one step process" is what the drafters had in mind when the discussion to issue the Apostille Convention took place more than 50 years ago, and nowadays it is how Apostilles are issued in most Contracting States. The Apostille Convention abolishes the legalization process and replaces it with a single formality: the issuance of an authentication certificate -called apostille- by an authority designated by the State of origin.

Another relevant aspect to be considered is that although the Convention has been in forced for more than 50 years and several millions apostilles are issued around the world every year, no amendment of the original text has been needed nor an adoption of a protocol to the Convention. This, however it does not mean that the appliance of the Convention has been exempted of several issues of interpretation and practical implementation when issuance an apostilles all over the world. For this purpose, and in order to facilitate the appliance and the interpretation of the Convention, the Special Commission of...

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