Nowadays, the need to legalise medical documents is becoming more and more frequent. This may be required in various situations: for example, when arranging treatment in a foreign clinic or explaining the reasons for absence at your workplace, also when confirming satisfactory state of health for admission to higher education institution or signing an employment contract.
It seems very easy, especially if the country, where the medical document was obtained, is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention. You can just get the document apostilled and forget about all the problems. But unfortunately, there are many nuances when it comes to legalising medical documents.
The fact is that there is no direct reference to the possibility of apostilling medical documents in the text of the convention itself. Of course, in most of the countries medical institutions are under the authority of their respective ministries of health. Thus, we could assume that the process of legalising medical documents is similar to the process of legalising educational documents, as it’s always possible to apostille diplomas and certificates for example. But the views of the competent authorities in different countries on the possibility of apostilling medical records are very different.
Documents issued by the Ministry of Health directly - such as a certificates stating that a person is allowed to practice medicine in another country for example - can be apostilled.
But other medical certificates, records etc. issued by hospitals or local clinics are difficult to get legalised. In Russia, for example, they usually cannot be apostilled. But a number of foreign countries require them to be officially legalised! Is it then a dead end? No, there is always a way out. You can get a notary copy of a medical document apostilled. Although formally, we put an apostille not on the original of a document, but on a notary act, in practice, it’s usually enough.
In many other countries, however, this problem does not exist. In the UK and US, for example, a wide range of medical documents can be apostilled. You just have to take into account that often a document needs to be certified by the local health department or some other authority before it can be apostilled. To avoid wasting time and money, we should always find out in advance how the whole legalisation procedure in the needed country looks like.
By the way, the Supreme Court of Italy has recently decided that foreign medical documents must be apostilled. If someone gets sick while being abroad, he/she is obliged to provide a medical certificate with an apostille stamp in order to keep his/her job in Italy. Otherwise, the reason for missing work will be considered as invalid. The employee can be declared absent and dismissed for breach of work discipline.
Given the big number of legal formalities involved in apostilling medical documents in different countries, it is worth to consult with an experienced professional before initiating the legalisation process.