What Is An Apostille and Why Is It important?

By:  John E. Parkerson, Jr., Esq. and Sandro Stojanovic, Esq.

On October 5, 1961, a large number of countries signed the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (the “Convention”), a multinational treaty establishing the procedures through which a document issued in one of the countries that is party to the Convention can be certified for legal uses in other countries that are parties. The form of this certification is called an apostille. The U.S. is a party to the Convention, and each U.S. state has a procedure and authorized entity that is responsible for issuing apostilles.

If you plan on using a certified or notarized document in another country for legal purposes, you first have to examine the Hague Convention to determine if the other country is a party. This list of member countries is found at:  https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/?cid=41 . If the country is not on the list, you will have to contact that country’s consulate in the U.S. to obtain the information regarding the process for certification. Without a proper apostille, the foreign court or other governmental body might not accept the documents as properly authenticated. For example, in a foreign court proceeding, the court might refuse to accept a U.S.-notarized document as evidence.

What documents can be apostilled?

The following documents can be apostilled in Georgia:

• Publically recorded documents (certified copies)
• Birth certificates
• Death certificates
• Marriage certificates
• Divorce decrees
• Court documents
• Documents filed with the Georgia County Clerk of Superior Court
• Corporate documents on file with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division
• Notarized documents

What are the steps to obtaining an apostille in Georgia?

First, you must have your document properly notarized by the authorized notary public and/or certified by the certifying authority. Second, you must take the original document to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority (GSCCCA). The GSCCCA is located at 1875 Century Blvd NE, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA, 30345; and it will issue an apostille for $3 per document.