An apostille refers to a stamp or sticker that’s usually attached to a UK document to show that the signatures attached to the document are genuine.

This makes a document issued by a UK public official usable in another country under the Hague Convention.

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Meaning - what is an apostille?

What does an apostille mean?

When answering ‘what does apostille mean,’ we have to go to France.

Apostille is a French term that means marginal annotation. It refers to a means by which foreign public documents are legalised, making them suitable and trustworthy enough for use in a new country that is part of the Convention.

Different terms and meanings for an apostille

There are different terms and meanings for an apostille. This is because different member countries and organisations refer to the process of acquiring an apostille using different terms.

Additionally, most people from other countries refer to it according to the physical representation they are familiar with. The many terms are purely based on what people associate the apostille certificate with.

For some, it’s where they get it, how it appears, and the form it comes in.

Here are some of these terms:

Read our detailed guide about apostille and legalisation terms commonly used.

What does an apostille look like?

An apostille is a certificate attached to your public document after legalisation.

It is a 15-centimetre square piece of paper with a seal.

The stamp is the government crest embossed onto the certificate.

The apostille issued must contain the seal and signature from the UK Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). This is the only body authorised to issue apostilles.

What an apostille form looks like

Yes. You can have any documents apostilled, from marriage certificates to academic certificates. Contact our apostille office for more information.

Not really; a notary public can be used to verify any photocopies of documents you may have.

The certificate is glued to the back of the document or the front page of a double-sided document with all its details; the stamp or seal and signature.

The capacity in which the person signed the document is also authenticated. You can contact the FCDO office in Central London for this and other services.

The convention covers a total of 115 countries all over the world, where the apostille laws and agreements apply. In these countries, the apostille is accepted without requiring further verification.

The Hague apostille convention of 5 October 1961 abolished the requirement for an apostille service for foreign and public documents. This convention facilitated the use of such documents abroad without an apostille certificate number.

The electronic apostille service was launched in 2006 to support the verification and electronic issuance of apostilles in signatory countries.

The Hauge Convention features more than 120 contracting parties, and the following countries are part of this list.

List of all Hague Member Countries

The UK has been a member of the Hague Convention since 15 July 1955.

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