Public documents authentication II

Public documents authentication II
29. January 2018 / Tetras Translations

The previous blog dealt with Apostille certification that replaces the time-consuming and costly multistep process of public document legalization.  This is also the goal of CIEC Conventions and bilateral agreements between individual states. We will also take a look at consular legalization in greater detail. Finally, some recommendations are added about how to prepare for the whole process of legalization and superlegalization.

1. CIEC Convention

CIEC stands for International Commission on Civil Status. It is an intergovernmental organization. The aim is to facilitate cooperation in civil-status matters. The drafted Conventions further the exchange of information between civil registrars through standardized forms. These are multilingual or coded and accepted with full legal value without translation and legalization (or any equivalent formality) in the territory of each contracting State. The most recent one signed is Convention No. 34 on the issue of multilingual and coded extracts from civil-status records and multilingual and coded civil-status certificates. The up-to-date list of states signatory to CIEC Conventions is still being updated on

CIEC Convention on the issue of multilingual extracts from civil status records

The Convention is in force in 24 countries, namely, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands (European territory), Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.

2. Bilateral agreements

Some states have concluded also bilateral agreements to agree on special conditions and requirements concerning public documents and legalization. Every country has the list of such states available online. Not all bilateral agreements necessarily concern public document legalization and not all are valid in both directions. As an example, there is the bilateral agreement between Slovakia and Italy which works only in one direction. It means that Italy does not accept Slovak public document from Registry Offices and demands the Apostille certificate. On the other hand public documents issued by the Registry Office in Italy that are to be used in Slovakia do not require legalization.

3. Consular legalization

Public documents that are to be used in one of the countries to which none of the above-mentioned conventions apply has to be legalized (prior certification) and superlegalized (further certification known as validation).

Example – consular procedure for Slovak documents for use abroad
  • The original copy of the Slovak public document that the client wants to use abroad is issued by the respective Registry Office. It must be issued no more than 6 months ago
  • The respective district office certifies the public document
  • The public document is then legalized by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic
  • The document is translated by a sworn translator
  • The respective Regional Court certifies the translated document
  • The documents are authenticated by the Consular Section of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic
  • The documents are submitted to the consular mission of the country where it will be used

The last state authority in Slovakia that legalizes the public document issued by a Slovak authority should be Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic = legalization. And then it is necessary to submit the translated public document for further certification to the foreign mission of the country in which the document is to be used = Superlegalization. The administrative fee for legalization by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic is paid in the form of a € 20 duty stamp. Clients are required to obtain duty stamps in advance (e.g. at the post office).

Consular procedure for German documents for use abroad

Legalization is carried out by the diplomatic or consular mission of the country in which the document is to be used. It is up to the foreign mission to choose how it shall decide that a document is authentic. As there are more issuing authorities in Germany is quite challenging for the consular missions of other states to keep track of them. Therefore the missions demand prior certification of the document by a German authority, and sometimes further certification, known as validation, is also required.

The system of providing prior certification in various German States is not unified. The website recommends to ask the authority that issued the document for more information. Other useful information about legalization of public documents, lists of countries with which Germany agreed on special conditions is available there.

4. How to prepare the document for translation?

For the Apostille certificate, have the original document certified before submitting it to the translator who translates the Apostille as well. If you do not have prior certification it is highly possible that the document will not be accepted by the foreign authority.

But you have to know how to choose a sufficient sworn translator or non-sworn translator. We contacted the Registry Office in the City of Poprad that confirmed that Slovakia requires the public document issued abroad for use in Slovakia to be translated in Slovak territory. As regards other states, it is best to ask for more information from the authority abroad for information about how to proceed.

In Germany, translations are not regarded as public documents. A certification by a sworn translator does not change this status. It is however possible for the President of the competent court to issue a certificate verifying that the translator is a sworn or certified “expert”. Whether a translation done in Germany will be recognized by another state is a matter governed by the law of the state in which the translation is to be used.

5. Some useful web pages:

The following web pages provide information about how to legalize different types of documents.




The United Kingdom