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Legalese – What is an Apostille?

Legalese – What is an Apostille?

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In March 2011, Costa Rica joined the Hague Apostille Convention, which set global standards for the recognition of public documents among various countries. Through this convention, documents like birth, marriage or death certificates, along with other legal papers, are internationally recognized by all signatories. If you are a foreigner seeking residency in Costa Rica, you will need several apostilled documents.

An apostille is an official, legal stamp on a document that certifies its country of origin. Apostilles are only issued or recognized by countries that are signatories to the Hague Apostille Convention. The apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document. An apostille does not certify the content of the document.

Not all apostilles look the same, but they must be identified as an apostille, they must include the short version of the French title of the Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961. Additional information can be included by each country, and the apostille needs to be affixed to the public document.

Most countries that are signatories to the convention charge for the apostille. For precise information on the prices that countries charge and other requirements, check with the relevant country.

The U.S.is a signatory of the convention. This means that documents issued in the U.S.with an apostille are recognized in Costa Rica, without the need to go to Costa Rican consulates and/or the Foreign Ministry in San José.

Apostilles in the U.S. can be obtained from the secretary of state from the state where the document was issued. For more information, check the following link.

If the public document was issued or is to be used in a country where the apostille convention does not apply, you should contact the embassy or consulate of the country where you intend to use the document to determine your options.

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