Thinking about moving to a foreign country for work or school? Along with transportation in, housing at your destination, — there is also the dreaded exercise of paperwork.

A number of countries are signatories of the Hague Convention which further complicates the assembly of paperwork, and if you’ve heard of the Apostille Stamp, this is the guide to getting yourself organized before your departure. You’ll also need to make sure you have all the duly authenticated documents you require to live or work in the country you are moving to. Legal documents issued in the United States used in or sent to foreign countries, need to have their authenticity determined by apostille stamps. Getting all the paperwork done when moving abroad can be extremely stressful which is why it helps to do know the following basics.


What is an apostille stamp?

Apostille stamps are used to authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents like your birth certificate, diploma, criminal record or court order. The stamp allows the document to be recognized in foreign countries. They must be a part of the 1961 Hague Convention also known as the Hague Apostille Convention. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.The treaty is between over 100 countries and allows documents issued in one country to be accepted in another. In the U.S., apostille stamps are issued only on public and federal documents to be used in countries that are a member of this convention. When foreign nations receive legal documents bearing the apostille stamp, they can assume that the documents are authentic.


When do I need it?

An apostille is needed on public documents that are executed in one country and sent to another. You may require apostilles on academic transcripts, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, diplomas, and assignments, or on birth, marriage and death certificates to use them in foreign countries. Any document signed by the following people requires an apostille stamp issued by the U.S. Department of State if they are to be used in a foreign country that’s a member of the Hague Convention:

  • U.S. consular officer
  • U.S. federal official
  • Military notary
  • Judge advocate
  • Foreign consul diplomatic official

If a recognized government official did not sign the document, then it may need to be notarized before an apostille stamp can be requested.

An apostille doesn’t need to be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued. They are more often for the use of public documents abroad. So if you are moving abroad for work or school, make sure to check that all necessary documents have apostille stamps.


Which countries require an apostille stamp?

If you are submitting official government documents from any of the following countries signed to the Hague Convention to another signatory, you’ll need an apostille stamp:

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Cabo Verde
  • Chile
  • China (and Hong Kong)
  • Colombia
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Eswatini
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Lesotho
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Rwanda
  • San Marino
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia


Where can you get it?

You can get an apostille stamp at the office of the Secretary of State in each state or the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C., which only issues apostilles for federal documents. The name of the issuing office varies from state to state. Some call it the Office of Authentification, others the Office of Apostille. An apostille stamp may be requested in person or by mail. You can find a complete list of relevant state authorities who have the power to issue an Apostille stamp here.


How can you get it?

If you need an apostille stamp to be put on a document, you must fill out an apostille request form explaining what the document to be authenticated is, how it will be used and where it will be used. You’ll need original copies of the documents you want to be stamped. They should be notarized and made official within the issuing state. You’ll also need to provide the name of the country where you intend to use or send the document. Each country has its own guidelines regarding document apostilles. You need to provide your notary with this information to double-check the document requirements in the country you are headed to.

a woman filling out a request form

Then send the form, the original document that requires the stamp and a fee to the Secretary of State for processing. After a few days, you’ll receive your original document, complete with an apostille stamp, in the mail.

It’s important to know that the document’s origin state, as it will also be the state that’ll issue the apostille. When a document is apostilled, no other certification is needed for it when being used in another country. This includes embassy or customs certification.


How much does it cost?

The stipulated fee for getting an apostille varies from state to state and is usually charged per document. You should know a document can be more than one page. A check or money order in the amount is paid to the Secretary of State. You may also pay by credit card in some states. In some cases, the cost of getting your apostille may include getting copies of all necessary documents. In most states, apostilles generally cost around $15 per copy. For example, in Washington State, you’re looking at $15 per document and another $50 for expedited service, while in New York you are looking at $10 per Apostille or Certificate of Authentification. For a document certification for adoption proceedings, the apostille stamp costs $10. 


What if the documents aren’t written in English?

a pile of documents on a desk

If you need documents apostilled that are not written in English, you’ll need to have the papers translated by a translator and have the translated documents notarized. The translation and signing of the papers need to be witnessed by the notary. After this, both the untranslated and translated copies of the document will be apostilled.


What if the country isn’t a member of the Hague Convention?

If the foreign country you intend to use the apostille in, is not a member of the Hague Convention, documents being sent or used in that country can instead get a Certificate of Authentication. This serves the same function as an apostille. The office of the Secretary of State is also responsible for issuing certificates of authentication.


Do I need an apostille stamp to rent a property?

In order to land a resident’s visa or similar authorization to stay within a foreign country, you’ll need an apostille stamp to start. In many countries, a landlord will require proof of legal residency in a country (such as a resident’s visa) before renting an apartment or home to you. If you’re looking for a furnished home light on the paperwork, looking into Blueground, a furnished apartment company that has over 2300 apartments located in over a dozen cities worldwide. You can simplify your relocation by partnering up from the beginning with a turnkey apartment specialist who will have a ready-to-go home waiting for you on arrival.

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