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Apostille ⚖️

Apr 10, 2024

Portuguese nationals who are abroad, and even non-Portuguese nationals, often need to present documents issued by the foreign authorities of the countries where they are for various purposes.


The country of Camões and the Communities has citizens all over the world. According to data from the Emigration Observatory, the country has seen more than 1.5 million citizens leave in the last 20 years. As a result, there are an estimated 2.1 million Portuguese spread around the world, which is why it is necessary to make it easier to validate public documents from other countries. The Portuguese authorities have therefore adopted measures to recognize and accept documents issued by foreign authorities more widely and efficiently.

One of the main initiatives in this regard is Portugal’s accession to the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, the Convention Relating to the Abolition of the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Acts, through the Apostille, which is a formality through which the authority of a country certifies the authenticity of public acts (documents) issued in the territory of a signatory state and thus must be presented in the territory of another state signatory to the same Convention and accepted, facilitating the validation of public documents between signatory countries. For example, a Portuguese citizen living in the United States of America can validate documents by affixing the Apostille to the document state he is in to put the apostille on his specific document.

Therefore, through the apostille, documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, powers of attorney, foreign court decisions, among others, can be authenticated in a simplified way, making the process faster and more accessible for citizens and foreign residents in Portugal.

However, in countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, the process of validating foreign documents is no longer done through the apostille. Generally, documents are legalized through specific authorities, such as Portuguese consulates or embassies in those countries, since document authentication is the consular act of recognizing the authenticity of a foreign document, giving it legal value before the institutions of the country that the consulate represents.

Until May 12, 2023, Canada was not a signatory to the Hague Convention, so a Portuguese resident in Canada had to go to the Portuguese Consulate and request the authentication of the foreign document. By joining the Hague Apostille Convention, Canadians will benefit from a simplified and cost-effective method for having their public documents accepted in signatory countries.
Thus, as of January 11, 2024, Canadian public documents will have a certificate called an “apostille” attached to them. This certificate allows the documents to be presented in the 125 member countries of the Convention. To do so, the applicant must clearly identify the country of destination of each document they intend to send. Canadians will no longer have to go to the consular post closest to their residence when they want to authenticate a document, and the cost of doing so will be much more affordable.

Judith Teodoro,