Have you ever wondered why apostles and notaries are needed to validate documents in foreign countries? In this guide we will explain what an apostille is, we will make a brief historical overview of the subject and we will explain which bodies require an apostille stamp and how it can be obtained.
What is an apostille?
The Hebrew translation of the French word Apostille is a confirmation. This term is taken from international law and describes a certificate issued by a competent authority of any country, as well as the title of the official in charge of verifying the correctness of signatures on various public documents, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, or any other official document on behalf of One of the state authorities.
The apostille stamp confirms that the certificate is original, official and issued by the competent authority. In addition, the apostille stamp verifies the notary’s signature on various documents (such as the translation of official documents), and confirms that the notary who signed the document is indeed qualified to serve as a notary in the relevant country.
The purpose of the apostille
The purpose of the apostille is to save the citizen part of the extensive chain of verifications he is required to go through when presenting an official certificate from a certain state to an anonymous state. Without the apostille stamp, the same citizen would have to first verify the certificate issued by the public authority that issued it, verify the signature of the authority in the State Department and even verify the signature of the State Department at the consular or diplomatic mission of the country where he wishes to present the document.
The Apostille Convention
In order to overcome the difficulties mentioned above, the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legislation for Foreign Public Documents was signed on October 5, 1961. The purpose of this international treaty, formulated at the Hague Conference on Private International Law, is to simplify the process of recognizing public documents conducted between the signatory states. The Convention sets out the means by which a document produced in the signatory State can be approved for the purposes of legal recognition in the other signatory states. The apostille certificate is essentially similar to a notary seal, but while the latter is only valid locally, the apostille certificate is valid in all signatory states.
Apostille approval can only be given by the competent authorities in each country. In Israel, the bodies authorized to grant apostille approval are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, registrars of the Magistrates’ Court, and civil servants who have been appointed to their positions by the Minister of Justice in accordance with the rules set forth in the Notaries Law, 1976. These officials sit in courts across the country.
In order to be eligible for an apostille certificate, a document must be approved by an official who is recognized by the authority issuing the apostille. Therefore, a document that has been approved by a notary seal will be recognized for the purpose of obtaining an apostille in court, only after the authorized clerk has verified that the notary appears on the list of notaries authorized by the Minister of Justice.
Today, almost 120 countries have signed the Apostolic Treaty, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United States, Norway, Panama, Peru, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uzbekistan. Surprisingly, some major countries, such as Canada and Taiwan are not signatories to the treaty.
In which cases must an apostille certificate be obtained?
We live in a global age. Today, you can communicate with people from the other side of the world at the push of a button. At the same time, the legal bureaucracy has frozen on its guard, so there are many arrangements we must make if we are interested in issuing foreign citizenship or taking legal action in foreign countries.
In order for a document that we translate from Hebrew into a foreign language to be legally valid in the destination country, a certificate must be issued by a certified notary as well as an apostille certificate. In recent years, an increasing number of Israelis have encountered the need to obtain an apostille permit as part of the process of obtaining foreign citizenship.
Receipt of an apostille stamp in Israel
Today, an apostille stamp is issued in the State of Israel in two channels. For official public documents such as certificates issued by the Ministry of the Interior (such as birth certificate, death certificate, etc.), judgments and decisions on behalf of the courts, all certificates issued by the IDF, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, matriculation certificate, house certificate Book and academic certificates, doctors’ certificates, inheritance orders from the Registrar of Inheritance or the court, you can obtain an apostille certificate from the branch for verification of public documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem.
Surprisingly, it is not possible to get an apostille stamp for public documents issued in Israel in other cities or in Israeli embassies around the world.
An apostille certificate for notarial documents such as a signature verification, a certificate of translation of a document and a life certificate, can be obtained at the court secretariat, as shown in the table below:
|South||Beer Sheva District Court|
|Beer Sheva Magistrate’s Court|
|Be’er Sheva Labor Court|
|Eilat Magistrate’s Court|
|Ashdod Magistrate’s Court|
|Dimona Magistrate’s Court|
|Kiryat Gat Magistrate’s Court|
|Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court|
|Jerusalem||Jerusalem District Court|
|Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court|
|Jerusalem Family Court|
|Magistrate’s Court – Jerusalem District – Beit Shemesh|
|Jerusalem Labor Court|
|Tel Aviv||Tel Aviv District Court|
|Magistrate’s Court – Tel Aviv District – Weizmann Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo|
|Magistrate’s Court – Tel Aviv District – Schocken Street, Tel Aviv-Yafo|
|Tel Aviv Labor Court|
|coordinator||Central District Court|
|Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court|
|Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court|
|Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court|
|Rehovot Magistrate’s Court|
|Ramla Magistrate’s Court|
|Netanya Magistrate’s Court|
|Haifa||Haifa District Court|
|Haifa Magistrate’s Court|
|Hadera Magistrate’s Court|
|Krayot Magistrate’s Court|
|Acre Magistrate’s Court|
|Haifa Labor Court|
|north||Nazareth District Court|
|Nazareth Magistrate’s Court|
|The Nazareth Labor Court|
|Afula Magistrate’s Court|
|Kiryat Shmona Magistrate’s Court|
|Safed Magistrate’s Court|
|Tiberias Magistrate’s Court|
|Beit She’an Magistrate’s Court|
Receiving an apostille service involves a variety of logistical challenges. For example, in order to sign an official document with an apostille stamp in the industry for verifying public documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you must risk sending sensitive official documents by mail (which is not known for reliability). In addition, you must attach a receipt for the payment for the apostille stamp as well as an empty and stamped envelope on which the shipping address will be written back to the recipient.
Another option available to a person interested in using the industry’s services to verify public documents for the purpose of obtaining an apostille stamp for an official document, is to travel directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, in most cases, making an appointment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs involves a particularly long wait and the loss of working hours for the trip to Jerusalem. Therefore, we recommend that you contact an experienced lawyer who will make sure that your document receives all the required approvals, from the notary seal stage to the coveted apostille approval.