Apostille Canada

Authentication & Legalization

When documents are notarized in Canada for use abroad, such documents must go through a process of “authentication” and “legalization” in order for them to be valid in the foreign jurisdiction. The combined process of “authentication” and “legalization” is the Canadian equivalent of “apostille certificates” issued in other countries that are signatories to The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (1961). As Canada did not sign this convention, notaries in Canada do not provide “apostille certificates”. However, in most circumstances (depending on the country and document in question), Red Seal Notary can provide you with our authentication and legalization services, whereby, we will authenticate and/or legalize your notarized documents for an extra fee (for details of our fees for this service, see below).

“Authentication” is intended to remove the burden on foreign courts and foreign authorities in proving the genuineness of documents originating outside of their countries. Authentication is undertaken by both the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (“DFAIT”) and provincial authentication authorities such as the Government of Ontario’s Management Board Secretariat (Official Documents) or the Official Documents and Appointments branch of Alberta’s Department of Justice. Whether DFAIT and the provincial authentication authority are both required to authenticate a document depends entirely on the recipient foreign country’s rules and, as such, advice should be sought from that country’s embassy or consulate.

Authentication verifies the registration of a notary public as well as the notary’s seal and signature. When a request is made, DFAIT and/or the provincial authentication authority checks its records to confirm the notary’s registration and compares the notarial seal and signature on the document being submitted against records it holds of the notary’s seal and signature. When the notary’s authority, signature and seal are confirmed, the document to be authenticated will then receive a stamp (DFAIT) and/or an additional seal together with a statement from the provincial authentication authority to the effect that the notary is “known to be in good standing”. Once this happens, nothing may be added to or removed from the document.

After authentication, “legalization” occurs when the document is presented to the consulate of the relevant foreign country for certification. At that point, the document normally acquires legal validity in the intended country of use.

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