Apostille Law and Legal Definition

Apostille refers to a means of authenticating a signature on a document that is recognized by an international body. The country of destination determines whether the authentication is an apostille or certification. It is the legalization of a document for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.

Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille." The apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.

For example, in New York, an apostille issued by the New York State Secretary of State is a one page document embossed with the Great Seal of the State of New York. The apostille includes the facsimile signature of the individual issuing the certificate.