What is an Apostille?

An Apostille Stamp is a certification established by The Hague Convention (also known as an Apostille Convention or the Apostille Treaty) with the aim of facilitating the worldwide circulation of documents.  The aim of the Convention is to abolish the legalization process and replace it with a single formality. The Apostille Stamp authenticates the origin of a public document for use abroad.  The word ‘Apostille’ is of French Origin and it comes from the French verb ‘apostiller’ which derives from the old French word ‘pastille’ meaning ‘annonation’ and before it the Latin word ‘postilla’, a variation of the word postea, which means ‘thereafter, afterwards, next’.  During the negotiations of the Convention, the term ‘Apostille’ was preferred because of its novelty (Apostille Handbook).

The act of procuring an Apostillle stamp on a document under the Hague Apostille Convention is referred to as having been ‘apostillsed’. An Apostille only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document (Art. 5 (2) of the Hague Apostille Convention and does not certify the content of the underlying document (C&R No 85 of the Special Commission). There is no time restriction in regards to the effect of an Apostille. The effect of an Apostille does not expire.

An Apostille Stamp applies only to public documents. According to Art. I (2) of the Hague Apostille Convention the four (4) following categories of documents are considered to be ‘public documents’:

1) Documents emanating from an Authority or an official connected with a court or tribunal, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court or a process-server.

2) Administrative documents.

3) Notarial Acts.

4) Official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date and official and notarial authentication of signatures.

Greece as a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention authenticates (apostillises) public documents.

The Decentralized Administration (every region in Greece is assigned to a Decentralized Administration) has jurisdiction to ‘apostillise’ the following categories of documents:

  • Documents issued by the public civil services such as Taxation Authorities, Municipalities, Greek Orthodox Metropolis, Police Authorities, Ministries.
  • Documents issued by the Registry Office.
  • Documents issued by Greek Universities and Colleges.
  • Documents issued by Hospitals.
  • National Gazette documents.
  • Greek Identity Cards and Passports.

Judicial Documents are apostillised by the Court of First Instance of the region where the issuing Authority is seated. Notarial Documents, documents issued by Land Registries as well as Process Server Documents are apostillsed by the competent Prosecutor of the Court of First Instance.

Please note that as of April 1st 2014 birth, marriage and death certificates issued from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey  do not need to bear an Apostille Stamp for use in Greece  (Law 4231/2014).

Our office can assist you with procuring all sorts of documents from Greek authorities and prepare them for use abroad by procuring an Apostille and produce certified translations.  Contact us for information at info@jg-greeklaw.com.

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