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Legalizing a Document with or Without an Apostille


Ken Grubb
  • A guide to the apostille, a document which certifies, or legalizes, documents from government organizations.

An apostille stamp, legalizing a document.The Turkish government often requires documents from your home country's government, such as a criminal record check or a letter proving that you have a government pension. In addition to such documents, they also require an apostille, which is a certificate proving that the document you are providing actually came from the institution which provided it. The process is also known as "legalization."

Once you receive the apostilled document, the Turkish government will want it translated into Turkish by a government-licensed translator, and the translation notarized by a Turkish noter (notary).

Documents which may require an apostille include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Legal documents from a lawyer (solicitor)
  • Court documents
  • Criminal record check results
  • Marriage certificates
  • Certificates of no impediment
  • Death certificates
  • Diplomas
  • Educational certificates
  • Wills
  • Documents from a notary

How It Works

Firstly, the document is issued by a government official who is officially known by the entity providing the apostille. Once the government official signs the document, the entity providing the apostille checks the signature using signature cards on file, or through other means of verification. They then stamp the document with the apostille, certifying that the document did indeed come from the government official who issued it. If the country the document is being sent to is a signatory of the Apostille convention of 1961 (Turkey is a signatory), the apostille will be accepted as proof that the government document is legitimate. See "External Links" at the bottom of this article for a link to a Wikipedia page showing the signatories to the Apostille convention.

If Your Country is Not a Signatory of the Apostille Convention

If your country is not a signatory to the Apostille convention, you can still have a document legalized. However, this involves the document being sent to the foreign service officer of your country, then a foreign service officer of Turkey, who both certify that the document is genuine. Obviously this will take more time and coordination, so contact your country's embassy or consulate in Turkey to learn how to legalize a document in this case.

Certified Apostille Services

Some governments will provide an apostille on request, for an extra fee, then send it to you by mail, which is the best possible scenario. But some governments, like some local governments in the UK and state governments in the USA, do not provide apostilles--the documents must be legalized by a separate government-licensed company. So the government would mail you the document, then you would have to mail the document to the company which provides the apostille.

Saving Time and Postal Fees

You can first find out if the government office involved provides apostilles. If not, contact a company which provides apostilles first, and ask them if you can have the government mail the document directly to them. Then have them provide the apostille and mail the document to you. This will save you both time and postal expenses.

Finding a Licensed Company to Provide the Apostille

Use a search engine and search for "apostille service in ___", filling in the blank with the name of your home country, state, province, or county. Their website will likely have instructions on how you can use their services to obtain the document with an apostille. If not, contact them for instructions.

For UK Citizens

The UK government also provides this service from the document legalization section of the UK government website. There is a per-document fee as well as a fee for mailing the legalized document to you.

For US Citizens

According to the US Embassy, in Ankara:

"We have recently received requests to perform apostilles of documents issued by state, county, or city governments in the United States.  Documents issued by local authorities such as a state, county or city destined for use in Hague Apostille countries may only be authenticated by the Competent Authority in the state where the document was executed.  A list of these authorities can be found on the Hague website.  The U.S. Department of State cannot issue an Apostille for state-issued documents.  The Department of State, not its embassies or consulates, may affix apostilles to documents issued by Federal agencies of the United States."

See "External Links" below for a listing of federal and state government offices (in the USA) which can issue an apostille.

Translation and Notarization

Once you receive the document with the apostille, go to the local noter, and get a notarized translation of the document and the apostille. Once you have that, the document will be ready for presentation to any Turkish government agency.

Questions?

If you have any questions about apostilles or other legal issues, please post them in our Turkish Law Forum.


See Also

The Noter and How to Find One

External Links

Apostille.org.uk: A private company offering next-day apostille services in the UK.
List of Competent Authorities in the USA: This lists government offices for the federal government and all 50 states which can provide an apostille for any document issued by the US government. These are not private apostille services, these are federal and state government entities.
Wikipedia, Apostille Convention: Includes a list of countries which are signatories to the Apostille Convention of 1961.
Notarial and Documentary Services Guide for the UK: Explains all of the documentary services available at the UK embassy and consulates in Turkey, for UK citizens.
Get a Document Legalized in the UK: From the UK government, instructions on how to get a UK government document apostilled, or legalized.
US Department of State, Notarial and Authentication Services of U.S. Consular Officers Abroad
Guidance for US Citizens, from the US Department of State


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