Legalize and Apostille a Document in Spain

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Moving abroad is an exciting opportunity that can dramatically change the trajectory of your life for the better.

Aside from the new opportunities that living in a new country can bring, the process of moving abroad does come with plenty of documentation to navigate.

While gathering the necessary documentation you’ll need while in Spain, you might have come across certain terms.

During your search, terms like ‘Hague apostille Spain’ or ‘what is an apostille document?’ might have popped up.

Understanding and carrying out certain document procedures can indeed be confusing.

However, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to legalize and apostille a document in Spain!

In this handy overview, we will explore what it means to apostille a document. We’ll explore how to apostille a document and where the process originated.

Apostille and Legalization of a Document in Spain

Verifying Authenticity

Before we outline specific procedures, let’s first explore what legalization of a document means.

In order for foreign documents to be recognized as valid in Spain, said documents must go through a legalization process.

What this process does is confirm legal validity of the documents in question.

This process includes something known as the Hague Apostille.

What is the Hague Apostille?

The Hague Convention of 1961 provided a legal framework for the authentication of public documents.

It does so for a wide global network of nations.

This framework provides an avenue for countries to accept documentation from other countries.

Documentation includes everything from business to trade.

An apostille certifies foreign documents as valid.

It does so for countries included as member countries under the Hague Convention of 1961.

In order for certain documents to be accepted internationally, the documents must undergo notarization.

What the Hague Apostille did for this process was make it faster and more efficient for such documents to be legalized.

There are over 100 countries that are participants of the Hague Apostille Convention i.e.:

  • Chile
  • Finland
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Spain
  • Turkey

How to Apostille a Document in Spain

For a document to be considered valid in Spain, the authentication of a document must occur in the country of origin.

From there, the Spanish consulate will verify the document as correct.

For member countries under the Hague Convention, the process isn’t always required.

For these member countries, documents simply need to go through the apostille process before gaining validity.

The person in possession of the document in question starts the process of obtaining an apostille on a document.

Documents then become legalized through an apostille stamp or apostilla de la Haya.

An apostille can take a few forms i.e.: certificates, seals or stamps.

For those who need to obtain such an apostille stamp (apostilla) to make their document valid, there are a few different agencies that provide help.

All depending on the specific authority related to the type of document.


Document Types for Legalization and Where to Go in Spain

For example, a few different agencies apostille judicial documents or public administrative documents. This includes the Ministry of Justice.

For private documents or notarized documents, an individual will want to use a notary that is specifically delegated to issue apostilles.

Commonly apostilled documents for Spain include documents such as:

  • Passport copies
  • Driver’s license copies
  • Transcripts
  • Birth certificates
  • Diplomas
  • Consent to travel letters
  • Authorization letters

How does one go about obtaining said apostille for any of these documents?

The individual will want to visit the appropriate government agency in person or send documentation in through the mail.

Alternately, some may want to utilize a 3rd party service that assists individuals with obtaining an apostille.

Regardless of the route you take, the process itself will take either one or two steps.

Helpful Steps to Remember to apostille a document in Spain

Once you have the necessary document or documents gathered, you will conduct a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This will be where you receive the initial apostille stamp for your document(s) in question.

This step verifies that the document that is to be submitted has an official, legitimate signature.

From there, you will visit the Spanish Consulate or Spanish Embassy to receive the second apostille stamp if needed.

Obtaining an Apostille Stamp in Spain?

If you’re obtaining an apostille, there are a few need-to-know items that can be helpful to keep in mind before beginning the process.

If the document you need to have apostilled in Spain is in a language other than Spanish, you will need to have the document translated officially into Spanish.

document in Spanish

This will need to be done via a sworn translator or a traductor jurado.

An apostille is not needed for legal documents issued within Spain.

Countries outside of the Hague Convention can request an apostille.

However, further legalization of documents will be required by their respective embassies.

An apostille in Spain is typically provided cost-free by the agency relevant to the document itself.

It is important to prepare ahead of time as receiving an apostille stamp can take considerable time.

Documents that get issued by Spanish consulates, or documents related to customs transactions, cannot get an apostille stamp.

An apostille does not have an expiration date.

Recognized as Legal -> Legalization

Spain requires the administrative act of legalization as it relates to a foreign public document.

The legalization of documents is a process specific to countries that aren’t included under the Hague Convention.

There are two separate stages you must adhere to in order to achieve legalization of a document:

  • The document must get stamped with a stamp from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • The stamped document must then get presented at the Spanish Embassy in the country of question

Upon both steps being completed, the document will then be fully recognized as a legalized document.

Documents must always be legalized for any foreign document such as an application to live in Spain.

Recall that this, of course, doesn’t pertain to countries included as members of the Hague Convention.

Additionally, there are certain scenarios in which documents are exempt from the legalization process.

Some of these conventions include:

  • Athens Convention
  • Vienna Convention
  • London Convention

It should be noted that fees do get collected for documentation that gets legalized at a Spanish embassy or a Spanish consulate.

As with apostille documents, documents needing legalization also require sworn translation.

The guidelines for legalization will vary from document to document. I.e., academic documents will have different guidelines than religious organization documents.

Some examples of documents that might need legalization i.e.:

  • Academic transcripts
  • Official medical certificates
  • Animal health certificates
  • Employment contracts

Apostille a Document in Spain – Quick Recap

The first thing to remember is that an apostille is a stamp on a document. This stamp authenticates or validates a document for recognition on a universal basis.

Common documents apostilled for Spain generally include:

  • Diplomas
  • Transcripts
  • Passport copies
  • Birth certificates

For countries included as signers of the Hague Convention, individuals need only apostille a document to gain validity.

You can obtain a stamp via the Ministry of Justice located in Madrid.

For Spain to consider foreign documents valid, documents must get a Spanish translation.

The Ministry accepts only sworn official translations.

An apostille stamp does not have an expiration date.

Lastly, apostilles are provided by relevant agencies, specifically the Ministry of Justice, at no cost.

living in spain

Apostille a Document in Spain – Next Steps

If you have the opportunity to relocate abroad for study or work, you undoubtedly know the amount of paperwork that goes into living abroad.

If you have documentation that requires validation through an apostille stamp, you can appear in person at the appropriate government agency.

For example, the Ministry of Justice mentioned above.

You can also send in your documents that will need an apostille through the mail.

We surely hope this quick overview of how to apostille a document in Spain has been useful.

If you have additional questions as to the process, or simply want to clarify the process further, please get in touch with us today.

We’d specifically love to help guide you through the ins and outs. We’re here to help ensure you get your apostille in Spain correct!

No need to search online to make sense of terms like ‘Apostille stamp Spain’ or ‘Hague apostille Spain.’

At Go! Go! España, we want to help make the transition to living in Spain as seamless for you as possible.

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