The Philippines acceded to the Apostille Convention last 12 September 2018. The Convention will enter into force in the Philippines and other State parties on 14 May 2019.

But what exactly is an “Apostille”?

Briefly, an Apostille is a specialised certificate issued by the authority of a state certifying the genuineness and authenticity of a document and the signature of the person who authenticated or notarised the same. Derived from the Latin term post illa which means “a marginal note”, an Apostille is a certification which usually supplements a notarisation so that a public document may be used outside the country of its origin.

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents or simply, the Apostille Convention, is an international treaty which disposes of the need for legalisation of public documents. Previously, and prior to the Convention’s entry into force, a public document must be authenticated and legalised both by the country of the document’s origin and its receiving country.

Thus, in the Philippines, before a foreign document may be officially recognised, it must be signed by a notary public in the foreign state of origin, authenticated by the concerned department in the foreign state of origin, and legalised before the Philippine embassy or consular office located in the document’s foreign state of origin. With the Convention’s entry into force, a foreign document need only be notarised by a notary public in the foreign state and “Apostillized” by the relevant department of the document’s state of origin.

On the other hand, documents executed in the Philippines will only need to be notarised in the country and “Apostillized” by the Office of Consular Affairs of Department of Foreign Affairs. Note, however, that the Convention shall only apply to public documents only insofar as they originated or will be used in Apostille-contracting states, with the exception of Greece, Austria, Finland, and Germany. Moreover, an Apostille does not validate a document but merely certifies its authenticity.

While a document may be introduced in the Philippines under and with the benefit of an Apostille, it would still be best to seek the advice of your legal counsel to determine if the same would be admissible in a specific legal proceeding.