Authenticating and legalising documents
The Department of Foreign Affairs can authenticate documents executed in Ireland for use in other countries. Authenticating a document means verifying the signature of the authorised person and/or the seal or stamp it bears. Legalising the document means authenticating it for the purpose of making it acceptable to an Irish court. The apostille or legalisation certificate attached to the document confirms that the signature on the document is genuine. It does not mean that the contents of the document are correct or that the Department of Foreign Affairs approves of the contents.
An apostille involves the addition of a certificate stamped on the document itself or attached to the document. It certifies:
- The country of origin of the document
- The name and identity of the signature
- Capacity in which a document has been signed
- The name of any authority which has affixed a seal or stamp to the document
- Official seal
The apostille enables the presenter to bypass further certification and immediately send or take the documents to the country of intended use. The 1961 Hague Convention abolished the requirement for Foreign Public Documents to be legalised for countries that are parties to the Convention. Countries that are parties to the Convention may request the bearer of a document issued by a public authority to obtain an apostille from the authorities of the country that issued the document.
Legalisation simply means confirming that a signature, seal or stamp which appears on a document is genuine.
Why documents need to be legalised
The signatures or seals of Irish public officials such as solicitors, notaries public, registrars on certain documents like Powers of Attorney and Certificates of Good Standing from Ireland have to be confirmed before the documents can be accepted overseas. Photocopies of any documents must be true copies of the original and signed by an Irish practicing solicitor or notary public. Make sure the solicitor signs his own name and not the name of the practice.
Documents for authentication or the affixing of an apostille are done by the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign governments may request bearers of documents to have them authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs or by embassies or missions overseas. The authentication verifies the identity of the signature and/or seal or stamp which the document bears. An apostille involves the addition of a certificate, either stamped on the document itself or attached to the document. It certifies the country of origin of the document, the identity and capacity in which a document has been signed and the name of any authority which has affixed a seal or stamp to the document. Public documents include documents issued by a notary public, Certificates of Incorporation, Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates.
The apostille enables the presenter to bypass further certification and immediately send or take the documents to the country of intended use. Only certain countries will accept the apostille.
A Certificate of Authentication only validates the signature of a notary public, local or state officer. The Certificate of Authentication does not validate the contents, completeness, accuracy of the notarised or issued document. The authentication process includes matching signature and seal with the information on file.