Apostille, Authentication, and Legalization of Canadian Documents

November 18, 2015 | Published by

What Is an Apostille?
When you execute a will and have it stamped by a notary public in another country before moving to Vancouver, how will it hold up? Conversely, what will happen when you try to sell the Canadian business you’ve worked so hard to build to a foreign investor on their home turf?

As any Vancouver downtown notary will attest, legal documents play an important role in your professional and personal life, but the rules governing their creation and application may not be consistent from country to country. Apostilles are important certifications that ensure your documents maintain their intended effects as your journeys take you beyond new borders.


When Is an Apostille Required?
The apostille was formalized in the early 1960s as a means by which a legal document originating in one country could retain its validity in another nation. Obtaining an apostille stamp is somewhat like validating a document with a notary public. The certification authenticates the document and gives it more formal gravity in legal courts, negotiations and similar settings. Of course, the two processes are distinct from one another, and a notarized document may have no validity in a foreign country unless it also bears apostille certification.

Although traditional apostille markings are often stamps that are added to existing documents, they may also take the form of an allonge, or an extra section attached to your original paperwork. A valid apostille is easy to identify because it includes the header “APOSTILLE” and the subtitle “Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1951” in French.


How do I get an Apostille for my Canadian Document?
Unfortunately, Canada was not one of the nations that to sign the 1961 Hague convention to establish the apostille. Canadian documents that are to be used in other jurisdictions therefore come with special requirements.

  1. You must take your document to be notarized by a notary public or lawyer (notarization);
  2. If you had your document notarized by a notary public, you must have that notary’s signature and standing confirmed by their governing body, which is the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, located at 700 – 625 Howe Street, Vancouver, who then sends it to the Ministry of Justice, Order in Council, to have the Notary’s credentials authenticated (authentication);
  3. If you had your document notarized by a lawyer, you must have that lawyer’s signature and standing confirmed by their governing body, which is the Law Society of British Columbia, located at 845 Cambie Street, Vancouver (authentication). If you use our services at Morris Notary, we are lawyers who have been registered with the Ministry of Justice, so we can send the document directly to them and skip a step.
  4. Lastly, you must have this entire notarization and authentication process verified by the country’s foreign consulate you wish to send your document to. For example, if you need to send your  authenticated documents to Germany, you must have them legalized by the German consulate (legalization).

If you have any questions about the apostille, authentication, or legalization process, please contact Vancouver Downtown Notary at 778-819-8553 or email us at [email protected].