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Apostille for breakfast, legalization for lunch …


You are young and prosperous and are seeking self-fulfilling abroad because, as you think, your home country undervalues your talents and abilities? Or you are a young girl dreaming about marrying a foreigner?

In any foreign country they will ask you the same question: ‘Are your documents legalized?’ ‘What a nonsense!’ you may think. ‘Legalized? What’s that stuff?’

A familiar English word ‘legal’ (everyone knows the phrase ‘Legalize it!’) evokes of something related to law. ‘How my documents issued in my home country by a Registry Office, university, can’t legal?! Some nonsense…’

Everything is very simple, in fact. The thing is that no one abroad knows for sure whether there is some ‘Oktyabrsky Registry Office’ in N city, or whether there is an official named Petrova Maria Ivanovna  who a long time ago back in 1982 certified your birth with her seal and signature. For this reason, everywhere in the world a complex document legalization procedure is applied which, if carried out, ensures that your document will be accepted in any country without any additional questions.

‘How can I have my documents legalized?’ you may ask. There are some ways to choose:

  • you may arrange everything yourself; or
  • you may have it done by a specialized firm, for example, a translation company.

If you choose first way, you will find out that there is also such a thing as ‘apostille’, a kind of legalization, which is affixed to a document only if the receiving country has entered in the Hague Convention 1961. But there is a catch in it. For instance, you want to become a real burgher and move to Germany which is known to be a member of the Hague Convention. However, after you have passed all ‘seven circles of hell’ in the Ministry of Justice, you come to Germany and they tell you that your apostille will not do. ‘ Why?!’ you say indignantly. And they will explain that Germany has not recognized Ukraine as a member of the Hague Convention, therefore the Ukrainian ‘apostille’ stamp on your documents is invalid. In this case, you will need ‘legalization of your document’.

And if you want to go to live to Denmark or Portugal, you will have to have two apostilles affixed – on the original copy and on the notarized translation of the document. And if you dream about living in the bright Spanish or Italian sun, first, you will have to have the apostille affixed and then legalize the document translation in the embassies of those countries. In this case, the translation must be made not by any translator but by the certified translator accredited by those embassies.

In addition, there are lots of other nuances and pitfalls. For example, you may have to get an updated form of your Birth Certificate which will require coming back to your native Registry Office in N city. Or the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine may refuse to accept your document for apostille as it does not contain some special stamp of a regional department of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. And the time which it takes for the Ministry of Education of Ukraine to process your diploma can really shock anyone! Bureaucracy, in a word…

For this reason, to save your nerves and to sleep well, we highly recommend to go to the specialized institutions dealing with such complicated issue as legalization, apostille sertification (apostillization) and translation of the documents to be used abroad.

Ideally, you should go to a translation company.

First, where else can you find such qualified advice concerning  document translation for a particular country?

Secondly, translation companies usually work closely with embassies.

And thirdly, nearly all translation companies offer apostillization and legalization services and notarize translations, and their employees sometimes know better than any average Ministry of Justice officer which steps you should take.

So instead of trying to ‘besiege’ the impenetrable walls of the governmental institutions, simply enter ‘translation company’ in the search engine… and go ahead!