You have a document issued outside Vietnam and you wish to use it in Vietnam. You then make a search on google for what you should do. Some results show that you need to get an apostille stamp, some suggest you to get it legalized. What you should do then. This post will give you the exact answer.
1. What is Apostille?
An “apostille” is a form of authentication/certificate issued to documents for use in countries that participate in The Hague Convention of 1961 which is the convention on abolishing the requirements of legalization for foreign public documents. As such, it is also called as “Hague Apostille”
It certifies the authenticity of the signature and the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which it bears.
When a document is sealed with an Apostille stamp, it can be used in one of the Hague Convention countries without carrying out any further acts.
How does an Apostille stamp look?
An Apostille stamp (certificate) is normally a square and formatted into numbered fields. It is often stamped on the back of a document. However, when a document has print on both sides, it may be placed in the most suitable position, which may be on the front.
A typical Apostille certificate shows the following information:
- Country of issue
- Name of person who signed the document
- The capacity in which the person signed the document
- Details of any seal on the document
- Place of issue of Apostille certificate
- Date of issue
- Issuing authority
- Apostille Certificate number
- Stamp of issuing authority
- Signature of representative of issuing authority
List of Hague Convention Apostille countries
As last updated on the website of The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), there are, up to now, up to 120 contracting countries to the Apostille Convention (Hague Treaty Convention) as follows:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
China, People’s Republic of (Hong Kong & Macao Only)
Korea (Republic of Korea)
Republic of Moldova
Republic of North Macedonia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America
Who can issue an Apostille?
In most cases, the competent authority which can issue an apostille stamp is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the document’s issuing country.
Which documents are eligible for an Apostille certificate?
According to The Hague Convention 1961, an Apostille stamp is issued for public documents of Apostille countries which are:
- documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court or a process-server (“huissier de justice”);
- administrative documents;
- notarial acts;
- official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentications of signatures.
The public documents under the Convention shall not be:
- documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents;
- to administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations.
2. What is legalization?
As also defined in the Hague convention 1961, legalization means the formality by which the diplomatic or consular agents of the country in which the document has to be produced certify the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which it bears.
For documents to be used in Vietnam, the authority competent for a Vietnam consular legalization can be:
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, or
- Embassy/Consulate of Socialist Republic of Vietnam in foreign countries.
The legalization often follows the step of authentication of documents by the competent authority of the issuing country unless the involved documents are exempted from the authentication step. And it is the required process for non-public documents of Apostille countries or all documents of non-Apostille countries.
3. Difference Between the Apostille and Legalization
Is Apostille the same as Legalization is the most frequently asked question when it comes to those terms.
Normally, they are the same in purposes of use. However, they are completely different in terms of applicable countries and documents, and procedures of which the legalization is much more complicated.
Purposes of use
Both apostilled and legalized documents will be used in a country rather than their issuing ones for the following common purposes:
Applicable countries and documents
Public documents of Apostille countries
Non-public documents of Apostille countries and all documents of non-Apostille countries
The Apostille procedure often involves in 02 steps as follows:
The legalization procedure often involves in 03 steps as follows:
Apostille fee is lower than the full legalization fee.
4. Can I use my apostilled document in Vietnam?
No. Vietnam is not a contracting party to the Hague Convention, as such an Apostille stamp is not valid for Vietnam.
In case your document’s issuing country is a Hague Convention Apostille country and your document is eligible for an apostille certificate, you still need to have it legalized by the Vietnam embassy/consulate after getting it apostilled.
So, we are now sure that you clearly know how to deal with your documents if you wish to use them in Vietnam.
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