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How To Get an Apostille

by Brent May

If you are living in Mexico and plan to apply for residency, get married or potentially invest or buy a home, you will be required to present legal documents from your home country to be used by Mexican authorities. You may be required to present an Apostille for a document like a birth certificate, divorce decree, death certificate or other documents.


What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is obtained in your home country (or in the country where the documents were issued) and is a certification authenticating documents so that they will be accepted for use in a foreign country. An Apostille is a way for a document from one country to be legally recognized in another country, as long as both countries are part of the Hague Convention of 1961. Some countries who are not part of the Hague Convention may refer to the process as authentication, legalization or attestation.

For purposes in Mexico, many times, the Mexican authorities will ask for the original document to be notarized by your nearest Mexican consulate then Apostilled by the corresponding agency in your home country, or vice versa. An Apostille is different from a notarization. An Apostille certifies documents issued in that country whereas notarization authenticates documents the Notary Public has reviewed. Usually, government-issued documents such as birth certificates can be directly Apostilled while documents such as bank statements will need to be notarized first.


Where do you get an Apostille?

You will want to plan ahead to have these things done. The process for obtaining the Apostille is different in different countries. In the U.S., the Office of the Secretary of State provides Apostille service by state. Global Affairs Canada provides authentication for Canadian documents. In the UK, the Apostille is processed by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In sum, check with the country where the documents were issued for the Apostille procedures. You can find them easily online. If you need an Apostille for a document originating in Mexico, you will then have it done in Mexico. Check with a notary for more information. Read more here about The Role of the Notary in Mexico.


The Hague Convention of 1961

Also known as the Apostille Convention, the Hague Convention of 1961 defines a procedure for documents to be legalized in one country and accepted in the other countries that are part of the international treaty. Mexico is part of the treaty since 1995. To date, 117 countries are part of the convention including the U.S., most European countries, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, etc.

However, if your country is not part of the treaty, you will need to go through your country’s certification procedures by checking with your Mexican consulate. As mentioned above, Canada is not part of the Apostille convention and the authentication procedure is handled by Global Affairs Canada. Once authenticated, you will send your documents to your Mexican consulate in Canada to be legalized before sending to Mexico.


What information does the Apostille contain?

The Apostille is a sort of stamp placed directly on the document containing the country of origin, who signed the document, position of the person who signed the document, details of any seal on the document, place and date of issue, issuing authority, Apostille Certificate number, stamp of issuing authority and signature of the representative of issuing authority.

If you got married in Mexico, you should have your marriage certificate Apostilled in Mexico in the state it was issued. Read more about How To Get Married in Mexico here.

If you are applying for a residency permit for Mexico from your home country, the Mexican consulate will generally not ask for your documents to be Apostilled. If you are applying for residency from a country other than your home country, the Mexican consulate may ask for some documents to be Apostilled. Some countries and some consulates will accept documents in English without being Apostilled. You will have to check this with the Mexican consulate where you are applying. Be sure to ask the question and do not rely on the website information if you have a particular case. You don’t want to get to the consulate with all of your documents to be turned away.

Having this done is key to a smooth process. Do your research in the country where your documents were issued, try to plan to have your documents Apostilled in advance and arm yourself with patience. Let us know if you’ve already gone through the process and how it went for you.


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