Schmidt & Schmidt offers the legalization of public documents from France by apostille.
France acceeded to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents in 1965.
The apostille, or the “Hague apostille” is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, a judgment, an extract of a register or a notarial attestation). It confirms the authenticity of the signature and the authority of an official who signed the public document.
Documents issued in France and certified with an apostille in accordance with the Hague Convention of 1961 are recognised in all Member States of the Hague Convention and do not require any other form of certification, such as consular legalization, which considerably reduces the costs and time required for the certification of documents. So far, more than 120 states have joined the Convention.
The apostille is not sufficient for use in the states that are not party to the Hague Convention. In this case, consular legalization applies to a public document.
Responsible for issuing the apostille are the following authorities:
- Court of Appeals (Paris)
- Local Courts of Appeals
The apostille in France is a square stamp in French with the obligatory heading "Apostille" and a reference to the 1961 Hague Convention in French (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961). The apostille certificate’s sides will be at least 9 centimeters long.
Types of documents
|Can be apostillized
|Cannot be apostillized
Specific aspects and document requirements for the apostille in France
There is no one designated apostille authority for all France-issued public documents.
In France, only original documents are allowed to be apostilled. Electronic documents or electronic signatures will not be recognized in France.
A public document must be in good condition and all seals and signatures must be clearly legible.
In some cases, a public document must current (not be older than 3 or 6 months) to be apostilled.
Legalization of French educational documents for use abroad
Educational documents issued in France, such as school reports, university degree certificates, transcripts of records, enrollment certificates and other certificates from schools or universities are not effective abroad until they are certified with an apostille. For example, an apostille for your foreign degree may be required to apply for a Master's or a PhD degree program.
Recognition of the authenticity of public documents within the EU
Bilateral international treaties
France has concluded bilateral agreements with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg,
and Switzerland, according to which certain documents are exempt from any certification if they are sealed by the responsible administrative authorities.
Multilingual documents (under CIEC Convention)
Civil status certificates and certificates of marriageability, which are issued by one of the contracting states according to the model of the Convention of the International Commission (CIEC Convention) for Civil and Civil Status Affairs (CIEC), are exempt from any formality in France.
Contracting states of the Vienna CIEC Convention of 08.09.1976 (issuance of multilingual extracts from civil status registers: birth, marriage, and death certificate) are:
- Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, France, Italy, Cape Verde, Croatia, Lithuania,Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.
Regulation on public documents (EU) 2016/1191 of 6 July 2016
Furthermore, Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of 6 July 2016 on public documents simplifies the circulation of certain public documents that must be presented in an EU Member State and have been issued in another EU Member State, thus exempting public documents from the confirmation of authenticity with the Apostille with the aim of reducing administrative burden and costs for citizens.
Consular legalization of French documents for use abroad
Should a French document be used in a country that does not recognize the Hague Convention, such as Canada, China and the United Arab Emirates or other countries not listed as a contracting party, the procedure of consular legalization, also called “embassy attestation”, applies. For a complete list of countries that accept and use apostilles, click here.
Consular legalization is the process of authenticating or certifying a legal document so a foreign country's legal system will recognize it as with full legal effect that is carried out by the diplomatic or consular mission of the country in which the document is to be used.
Consular legalization is more complex, time-consuming and costly than the simpler apostille procedure. Whereas apostille is usually issued within one step, consular legalization requires several pre-certifications before a public document can be certified at the embassy or consulate of the destination country in France.
It is a common requirement that the document has to be translated into the official language of the destination country before submission to the embassy. It is up to the diplomatic mission to decide about the authentication procedure.
The main differences between an apostille and consular legalization of documents
The common feature between apostille and consular legalization is that they authenticate an official document for presentation to institutions in another country. However, they have many differences.
|Can be used in all countries that are party to the Hague Convention on the Simplified Legalization of Documents.
|Use between States one or both of which is not a member of the Hague Convention, or where one of the contracting States has protested the accession of the other.
|Moderate. To obtain an apostille, contact the competent apostille authority of the state of origin of the document.
|High. For consular legalization, various inland authorities and a diplomatic mission of the state of destination must be involved.
|Usually not required.
|Attestation at the state of destination embassy in the state of origin of the document
|No need to contact the Consulate of the country of destination.
|Is the final step of legalization.
If the important documents are lost or damaged, or current copies of the documents are needed, the re-issue of the documents is required. It is not unusual for people outside France to encounter difficulties with obtaining new documents when abroad. Our consultants will help you procure new documents from France remotely, and we can arrange for your documents to be sent by courier anywhere in the world.
Copies and transcripts of civil status documents can be translated into any language by a sworn translator in France or the translation can be done in the country of destination. We offer certified translations of civil status documents with further certification. The cost of the work is calculated according to the volume of the document in question.
Does the translation have to be apostillized?
Any foreign document issued in one country and used in another country must be legalized for use abroad. Therefore, the authenticity of a certified translation from France needs to be certified by an apostille. Consequently, many authorities may not accept certified translations from France if the translation has not been properly authenticated in France for use abroad. To avoid this confusion, translations should better be made in the state of destination of the document.