International Law Basics: Authenticating International Documents In New York

International Law, NY Business Law, Apostilles in New York

If you want to enforce a judgment, or any other international document, headed to or coming from another nation, you should understand the process by which those documents are authenticated.

An American court will not take a foreign document at face value. It must be authenticated before it can be considered.  That means the document must go through a process of authentication, or legalization.

The easiest method is to obtain an Apostille, which is an authentication of a public document that governments issued if they are a party to the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.

The Convention provides for simplified certification of public and/or notarized documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention. Signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries under the conditions contained in the Convention, which includes attaching an internationally recognized form called an Apostille.

The New York Department of State has an application process by which you can obtain an Apostille, as do Consulate Offices of other signatory countries here in the United States.

If the nation to/from which is not a party to the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, the Legalization process can be much more complicated, and may require authentication of documents by courts, embassies and/or agencies in both countries. We encourage you to consult with the U.S. State Department’s Office of Authentications should you be dealing with a nation that is not a part to the Convention.

The Legalization process requires multiple layers of authentication in the nation where the document was produced before it can be received and accepted as authentic by the United States, which may also review the authenticity of the document at the federal and state level. Overall, this process can take much longer to complete.

In either event, the process by which you must authenticate international documents can be tedious and complicated.  Our office regularly handles such issues and can streamline the process for you and your business.
*Gene Berardelli may be contacted at:

Gene is a New York street-smart attorney with an extreme passion for success. Gene specializes in litigation, arbitration and general corporate law for New York-based and international clients. He, also, is the host of a popular New York talk radio program.

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