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Canada Joins Apostille Convention for Simpler Document Authentication

Updated: 5 days ago

On May 12, 2023, Canada officially joined the Apostille Convention, an international treaty established on October 5, 1961, designed to simplify the authentication of documents used abroad. This marks Canada's alignment with over 120 other nations, aiming to replace the traditional, multi-step legalization process with a single certification known as an Apostille.

What Exactly is the Apostille Convention?

This convention eliminates the need for diplomatic or consular legalization of foreign public documents. Instead, it introduces the Apostille, a certification issued by an authorized entity in the document's country of origin. Signatory countries of the Apostille Convention must recognize Apostilles issued by other member countries.

Under the Apostille Convention, "public documents" include those issued by government authorities, administrative or notarial documents, and official certificates. The public status of a document is determined by the law where it originates. Examples include birth or death certificates, notarized documents, educational records, court documents, criminal record checks, and corporate registry documents. Documents requiring legalization before Canada's adherence to the Apostille Convention will likely need an Apostille for international use.

The Apostille's role is to authenticate the origin and notarization of a public document, not to confirm its content.

Changes in Canada's Document Authentication Process:

From January 11, 2024, Canada will begin issuing Apostilles for all documents, including those destined for non-signatory countries of the convention. In cases where the receiving country is not a convention member, additional legalization by that country's foreign office may be required.

Canadian law doesn't mandate the authentication of foreign public documents for use within Canada, a practice expected to continue post-implementation of the Apostille Convention.

Before joining the convention, Global Affairs Canada was responsible for authenticating documents issued or notarized in Canada. Post-implementation, this will remain true for documents from the federal government and several territories and provinces. However, for documents notarized in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, or Saskatchewan, authentication must be done by the respective provincial Competent Authority:

The Ministry of Justice of Alberta

The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia

The Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery of Ontario

The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General of Saskatchewan

The Ministére de la Justice du Québec (subject to an approval process currently pending in the province)

For documents notarized in these provinces, the respective provincial authority will issue the Apostille. In other cases, Global Affairs Canada will handle it.

Potential Service Disruptions as Canada Joins the Apostille Convention:

Until January 11, 2024, authentication services may experience interruptions or delays as systems adjust to the Apostille Convention. It is advisable to delay document submissions for authentication until after this date, though exceptions may be made. Post-transition, some consulates or embassies may no longer process authentications without an Apostille.

There is no margin for error with the authentication or apostille process. If mistakes are made, both your time and money will be wasted and you'll have to start all over again. If you want to look into outsourcing this part to someone with experience, please email me at or call 848-467-7740 to request my services or learn more.

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