What is an Apostille?

Maria Alejandra / Maria Camila

Another quick note regarding an annoying but crucial aspect of doing business outside of your own country. Many of you have already had to deal with apostilles in connection with local visa applications, property purchases, litigation matters, and other local processes. An apostille is a higher-level notarization of a document in order to allow that document to be used in a different country. If as part of any process before a local entity you are submitting official documentation issued outside of Colombia (e.g., birth certificates, bank letters, etc…) you will be required to apostille that documentation pursuant to regulations applicable in that foreign jurisdiction.   Note that the rules governing the apostille process are outlined in an international treaty called the Hague Convention.

Apostilles in practice

As an example of the apostille process, assume that your Texas-based LLC is expanding into the Colombian market and wants to register a local SAS business entity.  As part of this process, the local Chamber of Commerce will require a copy of the registration documentation of the Texas LLC in order to confirm that the entity exists and remains active.  But the Chamber of Commerce will not accept a photocopy of the registration documentation or even a screenshot of the website showing that the entity exists.  You will need to request an apostille directly from the Texas Secretary of State certifying that the documentation issued by the state government is valid. Keep in mind that the actual entity that issues apostilles will vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Countries not in the hauge convention

Note that apostilles are relevant for countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention and a different process applies if you need a document notarized in a country that is not a signatory. For example, if you need to use a document in Colombia that is issued in Canada (a country that is not a signatory to the Convention) you may need to reach out to the local Colombian consulate in Canada in order to certify the document.  

Hope this is helpful!

© Langon Law Group LLC 2020 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with your own counsel to determined how the law applies to your own specific situation.