How to Apostille a Document in Canada

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If you’re in the process of relocating abroad for work or for a university opportunity, you’ve likely come across info about the apostille process.

However, if you’re not exactly sure what it involves, don’t worry. We’ll explore steps to take and documents needed.

More specifically, we’ll go over some need-to-know items on how to get an apostille in Canada.

Canada is one of the newer countries to sign as a member of the Apostille Convention.

Whether you need to obtain an Apostille in Toronto or an Apostille in Vancouver, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to Apostille a document in Canada!

But first…

What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates a document and ensures the signature of the official who signed it is genuine.

Why is this important? An Apostilled document is certified as an authentic public document for use abroad.

With an issued Apostille, you don’t need any other documentation to establish that your document is genuine.

What is the Hague Apostille?

Prior to a foreign document’s use abroad, the document must receive recognition as a valid document.

Today, the efficiency in document legalization stems from the Hague Apostille Convention.

The Hague Convention of 1961 ushered in a new legal framework for authenticating public documents for use around the globe.

Prior to the Convention, document notarization was much less efficient.

Today, the Convention simplifies the process.

It ensures a document from one country will be accepted in another in an official capacity.

With apostilled documents, many don’t require additional legalization or certification.

Above all, the Convention simplifies the process of authenticating public documents.

For documents that need to be certified prior to use, countries must be member countries under the Hague Convention.

Canada is one of over 100 different countries that are members of the Apostille Convention.

Some of these countries include:

  • Spain
  • Chile
  • Portugal
  • Finland
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • China

Canada’s formal membership with the Apostille Convention is effective from January 11, 2024.

What does this mean for Canadian citizens?

apostille a document in Canada

Which Documents Can You Apostille in Canada?

Until recently, Canada was not a member country under the Convention.

Prior to Canada’s new membership, documents did not receive an Apostille.

Rather, Canadians received what is called a Certificate of Authentication.

However, Canada’s new membership under the Convention means authentications won’t be the norm.

Citizens are now able to submit documents to be authenticated with an Apostille!

Forms that can currently be submitted for a certification include documents, e.g.:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • University transcripts
  • College admission papers
  • Customs certificates
  • Property ownership documents
  • Import-export documents

These are just a few examples of public documents that can be issued with an Apostille.

Where to Get an Apostille in Canada?

The following provincial and federal authorities within Canada are able to issue Apostilles:

  • Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery of Ontario
  • Ministry of Justice of Alberta
  • The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia
  • Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of Saskatchewan
  • Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

The Canadian government determines the competent authorities who are able to issue an Apostille.

For document authentication, the Global Affairs Canada website has additional information.

It outlines precisely the document authentication process that is currently used.

This process is equivalent to the process for an Apostille.

Countries that aren’t members of the Hague Convention use this process.

However, from January 11th, 2024 legalization is no longer needed. Rather, the appropriate governing authority will issue an Apostille.

This streamlines the entire process to a single verification.

Authentication Requests

Authentications are similar to Apostilles in the fact that they legally confirm a signature on a document as genuine and valid.

No fees are charged for the authentication service.

Documents that receive an authentication in Canada go through Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa.

However, various public documents need to be prepared differently during the authentication process.

To confirm what the process will be for each document, the British Columbia government website provides links for each document type.

These documents include:

  • Court documents
  • Education documents
  • Notarized documents
  • Registration documents

Each link provides confirmation on how each document should be prepared prior to authentication.

The current steps for authenticating and legalizing a document in Canada include:

  1. Confirm whether your document needs authentication by contacting the consulate of the country where your document will be used.
  2. If your document is not in English or French, obtain a certified translation.
  3. Use the Global Affairs Canada website to confirm what you will need to provide with your document submission.
  4. If your document requires a notary, ensure you obtain a notarization.
  5. Submit the document to the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.

Lastly, submission of documents can be completed by mail, courier, or in-person drop-off.

Don’t Forget to Enclose…

When sending your document packages to the Ottawa office, make sure you include the following in the package:

  • An authentication request form
  • The documents to receive authentication
  • A self-addressed, stamped envelope to receive your returned documents

From there, the authenticated document does need one additional step prior to use abroad.

Authentication and Legalization

Legalization will be the next step that confirms a document as valid. I.e., this is a stamp that clears documents for use abroad.

The legalization stamp is provided by the embassy or foreign consulate of the country where the document will be used.

apostille a document in Canada

How to Apostille a Document in Canada

Timelines and Steps

So, you’ve got your documents in hand. You’re ready to obtain an Apostille. What are the next steps?

  1. You will submit your document to be Apostilled to one of the five entities listed above.
  2. The appropriate consulate staff ensures your documents meet requirements.

Who you submit to will vary depending on where you’re located in Canada.

As the process is brand new in Canada as of 2024, processing times may be hard to gauge.

However, many Apostille requests do get issued on the same day on which they are requested.

While information is not yet confirmed for Canada, certain competent authorities do offer electronic Apostilles.

These are simply digital versions of traditionally physical document copies.

While the Canada Apostille Convention date approaches, authentication processing timelines range from 30 to 45 days.

Ready to Apostille a Document in Canada?

One item to keep in mind is that any document submitted to be apostilled must be submitted in English or in French.

If you’re submitting any documents in a language other than those, the document must receive a certified translation.

Upon receipt of your translated documents, apply for your Apostille with one of the competent authorities listed above.

An Apostille will allow for a document to be used in any country that is also a member of the Apostille Convention.

Rather than having to go through multiple steps for document legalization with various embassies or consulates, a single Apostille can be issued.

Whether you want to Apostille a birth certificate in Canada or authenticate a university transcript, we want to help.

If you’re getting ready to submit a document for an Apostille, reach out to us at Go! Go! España with any questions you might have!

Above all, we are here to help ensure  your documents receive the appropriate Apostille stamp for Canada.

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