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The legalisation convention is the convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents, also known as the Apostille Convention (5 October 1961). This convention does not completely abolish legalisation but shortens the chain so that only a single action is required, the addition of an apostille. A document bearing an apostille does not require any further legalisation by the embassy or consulate of the country in which it is to be used.

An authorised official issues the apostille once he/she is satisfied that the document and its signature are genuine. In most countries, the apostille is issued by the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The apostille comprises one or more rubber stamps and two or more signatures.

Do I need an apostille?
Whether an apostille is required will depend entirely on the country in which the relevant document was issued. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and similar documents issued by a country that is a signatory to a legalisation treaty must generally bear an apostille.

At this point around 90 countries are committed to the Apostille Convention. Please check this list of countries to find the country you are looking for.

Apostilles, including Apostilles for Consular Reports of Birth and Death Abroad and Apostilles on Certificates of Loss of Nationality

Sample of an Apostille
The Apostille is a validation stamp ensuring that a particular document is recognized in certain foreign countries (countries that signed The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents).

Basically, a document is only valid in the country in which it was issued. Validation for recognition in another country used to be a very complicated and time-consuming matter and involved, in hierarchical order, several authorities of the issuing country, and, as a final step, validation by the consulate of the country, in which the document was to be recognized.

In order to facilitate recognition of a document abroad, an international treaty regarding mutual recognition of documents was entered into by many countries, including the U.S. and The Netherlands. This treaty is called the The Hague Convention. According to this treaty a document originating in one Convention country is recognized in all other Convention countries if it bears the so-called Apostille stamp, which is a validation performed by the superior office in the country and state where it was issued. In the United States the Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State of the individual U.S. states provides the Apostille.

The designated Dutch central authorities competent to issue apostilles are the 19 district courts in The Netherlands (Arrondissementsrechtbanken). The Dutch notary's (notaris) signature must be deposited at a district court in order for that court to provide an apostille. It is therefore advisable to inquire at the notaris which district court has his/her signature on file.

Dutch district courts provide apostilles for documents signed by Dutch notaries, officials of the Chamber of Commerce, civil registries, courts and sworn translators. The standard fee is currently €18.00 (2011).

These apostilles (certifications) will not require any further legalization by the American Consulate General in order to be recognized in the United States or The Netherlands.

Neither the Consulate nor the Embassy is authorized to provide apostilles or assist in obtaining them.

If you have a document which needs an apostille, you should contact the relevant authority in the State where your document was issued.

Designated Competent Authority(ies):

Contact details:

Competent Authorities for the Kingdom in Europe

The contact details of the designated Rechtbanken can be obtained by clicking: www.rechtspraak.nl/Gerechten/Rechtbanken/

Telephone: -
Fax: -
E-mail: -
General website: -
Competent Authorities for the Caribbean part of the Netherlands:

Gezaghebber e/o Waarnemend Gezaghebber
Plasa Reina Wilhelmina 1
Kralendijk Bonaire
tel.: +5997178053
fax: +5997175100
email: gezaghebberbonaire@gmail.com

Gezaghebber e/o Waarnemend Gezaghebber
Government Administration Building
Powerstreet 1
The Bottom
Saba, Dutch Caribbean
tel.: +599 416 3215
fax: +599 416 3274
email: gezagsaba@gmail.com

Sint Eustatius:
Gezaghebber e/o Waarnemend Gezaghebber
Government Guesthouse
Fort Oranjestraat z/n
Sint Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean
tel.: +599 318 2552
fax: +599 318 2324
email: isl.governor@statiagov.com

Competent Authority for Aruba:
Director of the Legislation and Legal Affairs Department
Macuarima 65 Santa Cruz

Telephone: (297) 527-5100
Fax: (297) 527-5109
Email: -
Internet: -
Competent Authority for Sint-Maarten:

- Prime Minister, Minister of General Affairs;
- Head Civil Status Register Division of the Ministry of General Affairs

Telephone: -
Fax: -
Email: -
Internet: -
Competent Authorities for Curaçao:

Head Civil Status Register Division
Ministry of Public Administration, Planning and Services
Roodeweg 42
Willemstad, Curacao
T:+5999 - 434.1600
F:+5999 - 461.8166

Head Information Systems and Quality Management
Roodeweg 42
Willemstad, Curacao
T:+5999 - 434.1600
F:+5999 - 461.8166

Telephone: -
Fax: -
Email: -
Internet: -
Practical information:

Price: € 18 per apostille
Useful links:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - legalisation of documents
Court of First Instance The Hague - Apostilles (in Dutch only)
Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs - IB Groep (diplomas)

(This page was last updated on 28 March 2012)

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