Legalisation of a document is the implementation of a certain number of formal procedures in order to make the document legal in the territory of another state.

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, also known as the Apostille Convention or the Apostille Treaty is an international treaty which provides the procedure by which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille. It is an international certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarization of the document.

Apostilles are affixed by the “Competent Authority” designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention. In the Irish State, the competent authority is the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade.
In the United Kingdom, all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

What does an Apostille look like?

Apostille Notary Galway

An apostille issued by Norwegian authorities.

The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form consisting of 10 numbered standard fields. On the top is the text APOSTILLE, under which the text Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961 (French for Hague Convention of 5 October 1961) is placed. This title must be written in French for the Apostille to be valid (article 4 of the Convention). In the numbered fields the following information is added (may be in official language of the authority which issues it or in a second language):

    1. Country … [e.g. DUBLIN, Ireland]
      This public document
    1. has been signed by [e.g. John Smith]
    1. acting in the capacity of [e.g. Notary Public]
    1. bears the seal/stamp of [e.g. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ireland]
    1. at [e.g. Dublin]
    1. the … [e.g. 22nd November 2015]
    1. by … [e.g. the Registrar pf Births, Deaths & Marriages, Dublin]
    1. No … [e.g. 516226]
    1. Seal/stamp … {of the authority giving the apostille, in Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs}
    1. Signature

The information can be placed on the (back of the) document itself, or attached to the document as an allonge.

Eligible documents

Four types of documents are mentioned in the convention:

    • court documents
    • administrative documents (e.g. marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc)
    • 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.


A State that has not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other’s public documents, but in practice this is infrequent. Otherwise, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated, and then by the foreign ministry of the government of the state where the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate. In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country.

Document legalization is almost always required when it is necessary to be submitted to the authorities of another State. This means that a document issued, for example, in Ireland, is legal only on the territory of Ireland, where it can be fully used, but for its submission to the authorities of another country legalization will be required.

The exceptions to this rule are certain types of documents that cannot be legalized, as well as some countries with which Ireland has concluded a bilateral agreement, abolishing the requirement of legalization.

Legalization of a document is always carried out in the country in which it was issued and / or completed.

When is legalization not required?

Document legalization is not needed in three cases:

when the institution where you submit the document does not require its legalization;

when there is a bilateral agreement concluded between Ireland and the State, on which territory you plan to use the document, abolishing the requirement of legalization;

when the legalization of the document cannot be performed by the reason of its kind/type/character.
In all other cases, the legalization of the document for sending it abroad is required.

For more details, please contact James Seymour

<div align="center">James Seymour</div>

James Seymour

Notary Public

Tel: (086) 815 2932