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Canada Accedes to the Hague Apostille Convention

By: Teri Mayor, COGENCY GLOBAL on Thu, May 25, 2023

What this is: As of January 11, 2024, Canada will issue apostilles for public Canadian documents, which will be accepted by all other countries currently party to the Hague Apostille Convention and will accept an apostille as confirmation of the authenticity of public documents from other member countries. 

What this means: Canada's decision to join the Hague Apostille Convention marks an important step forward in facilitating international legal procedures, making it easier for individuals and businesses to operate on a global scale.

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Canada has made a significant move towards streamlining international legal procedures by acceding to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, also known as the Hague Apostille Convention, a convention that simplifies the recognition of public documents between member countries. The accession of May 12, 2023 will go into effect on January 11, 2024. Let's delve into what this means and how it will impact document processing for individuals and businesses alike. 

Overview of an Apostille 

The Hague Apostille Convention aims to simplify the authentication of documents between member countries. Its purpose is to abolish the requirement of diplomatic or consular legalization for foreign public documents. 

Under the Hague Apostille Convention, an apostille is a certificate attached by a competent authority, an agency determined by the country issuing the apostille, that confirms that the signatures and stamps of the government officials on public documents are valid. It usually involves a single request to the competent authority, rather than the multiple steps generally required for consular legalization. This simpler method is currently accepted by more than 120 countries who have acceded to the Hague Apostille Convention.  

Much Less Need for Consular Legalization for Canadian Documents 

Starting on January 11, 2024, documents from countries that have acceded to the Hague Apostille Convention destined for use in Canada or originating in Canada to be used in those countries will no longer require consular legalization. This means that the process of verifying the authenticity of these documents will be considerably simplified. While it was rare for Canadian documents to require legalization for use in the US and vice versa, it was not uncommon for US attorneys to be involved in a transaction where Canadian documents needed to be authenticated for use in another country. In the past, this authentication always required the full legalization process. Canadian public documents needed to be presented to the Global Affairs Canada office in Ottawa for authentication and then submitted to the appropriate consulate or embassy for the receiving country for consular legalization. Documents originating in another country would need to be authenticated according to the rules of that country and the Canadian embassy there. 

logo-cogency-color-1Looking for ways to prove that your US document’s certifications and seals are valid? Visit our page on Authentication, Legalization & Apostille Services.

After January 11, if the receiving country is also a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, only an apostille issued by the competent authority in Canada will be required.  Currently, Canada has listed their competent authorities as follows: 

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

Similarly, if the country of origin of the public document has acceded to the Hague Apostille Convention, an apostille attached by their competent authority will be accepted in Canada after January 11, 2024. 

This shift is a significant advantage for those dealing with international legal affairs involving Canada, as it eliminates the previously time-consuming and complex process of consular legalization in many cases. Consular legalization will still be required if the originating or receiving country is not a member of the Hague Apostille Convention. 

Need More Information?

For an updated list of countries and territories that are party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization, be sure to visit the Authentication/Legalization Resources page on our website. This comprehensive resource also includes useful authentication/legalization websites and a list of notary search websites where you can verify the status of notaries. 

If you have any questions about these changes or need more detailed information about the impact of Canada's accession to the Hague Convention, please don't hesitate to contact a reputable service company with years of experience in authentication and legalization. They can help you navigate these changes and ensure a smooth transition for all your document-related needs. 


What are the next steps for Canadian citizens and businesses? 
According to the official Canadian government website, “Joining the Convention means that Canadian citizens and businesses will be able to submit Canadian public documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and education, export and corporate records, for an authenticity certificate called an ‘apostille.’ This certificate will allow the documents to be used in any of the 124 countries that are members of the convention. More information about the changes will be made available before the convention comes into effect. Until it does, Canadian documents will continue to be authenticated according to the specific legalization requirements of their countries of destination and the procedures currently in place. 

What is involved in the authentication process?  

The details of what needs to be done and where will vary depending on the country of origin and the country of destination of the public documents to be authenticated. However, the basic steps for authenticating a document that originated outside the US will be similar to what is done in the US. Our article A Step-by-Step Guide to Document Legalization and Authentication gives a good overview of the steps involved. 

Does the legalization process change outside the US? 

Yes, there are a number of factors that are important to consider when the document originates outside the US. Our explanatory video 5 Tips for International Document Legalization provides information on important differences to be aware of when legalizing documents that originate outside of the US. 

This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.

Topics: Authentication / Legalization