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Glossary of Apostille Terms


The act of issuing an Apostille under the Apostille Convention. A document for which an Apostille has been issued under the Convention is referred to as having been “apostillised”.

The issuance of an Apostille replaces the often cumbersome, time-consuming and costly process of legalisation. Legalisation is a term that is still used and can mean "to apostille", "to attest further". It can often be used in cases that could be considered "lost in translation".


The person making a request for an Apostille to be issued.



The act of further leglisation processes with countries who are not members of, or party to, the Apostille Convention.
An updated list of all Contracting States, available on our sister site.


Authenticate / authentication

Authentication is a generic term that commonly refers to the process of verifying, or “authenticating”, the origin of a public document. “Authentication” and “legalisation” are sometimes used synonymously, and “authentication” may also be used to refer to the apostillisation process.


Contracting State

A State that has joined the Apostille Convention, whether or not the Convention has entered into force for that State. A Contracting State for which the Convention has actually entered into force may also be referred to as a State Party. An updated list of all Contracting States, available on our sister site.


Issuance of an Apostille

The act of completing an Apostille and attaching it to the underlying public document in order to authenticate its origin.



The process for authenticating foreign public documents. Apostillisation has the same effect as legalisation but is the result of the simplified process established by the Convention.


Production of a public document

The act of presenting a public document in the proposed State of destination. The production of a public document may be required or provided for (i) by the law of the State of destination (e.g., in court proceedings, or in applications for residency), or (ii) by another arrangement (e.g., by virtue of a business contract or an application process conducted by a private institution).


Public document

A broad concept that is the focal point of the Apostille Convention. Essentially, a public document is a document that is executed by an authority or a person acting in an official capacity. The determination of what constitutes a public document is entirely a matter for the law of the State of origin.



The person to whom an apostillised public document is produced in the State of destination.


Register of Apostilles

A register in which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office records the particulars of each Apostille issued.


State of destination

The State other than the State of origin where a (an apostillised) public document has to be produced (sometimes also referred to as the State of production).


State of origin

The State from which the public document emanates and whose Competent Authority is requested to issue an Apostille (sometimes also referred to as the State of execution).

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