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This article explains how to get an apostille for a foreign document, and how to have them translated into Turkish by an official translator for residence permit applications and other legal transactions in the Republic of Turkey. The Apostille An apostille is an internationally-recognized certification attached to a government-issued public document. It can also be a stamp or seal on the document itself. An apostille makes the document it's attached to legal for use in Turkey and in any other country which has signed the international apostille convention. The Apostille Convention The Apostille Convention (Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents) established an agreed-upon, standard way of legalizing documents between countries. It also required each country to designate one or more competent authorities to issue apostilles. Participating Countries You'll find a list of participating countries on the Hague Conference on Private International Law website. Click on your country's name for information about the competent authority which issues apostilles for your country's government. Use their contact information (and website or e-mail address) to learn what you need to do to send the document to them. After you send your document to that competent authority, they will place an apostille on the document and send it back to you, for whatever fee they charge (the fee will vary from country to country). Note: There may be one, or more, competent authorities for each country. For example, in the UK the competent authority is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), while each of the UK's overseas territories each has its own. In the USA, each state has its own competent authority, and so does the federal government in Washington, DC). What To Do If Your Country Isn't On the List If your country isn't on the list, then it is not participating in the Apostille Convention. There will be some other process for legalizing documents between your country and the Republic of Turkey. You will need to contact your country's foreign ministry, or your country's embassy or consulate, to learn what the procedure is. The 3-Step Legalization and Translation Process Here's the whole process, from beginning to end. Step 1: Learn Who the Competent Authority Is and How to Send Documents to Them Go to the list of participating countries. Click on the name of your country. Go to their website or contact them directly to find out where to send your document and how much the fee is. Step 2: Send Your Documents Create a cover letter to include with your document which includes your e-mail address and telephone number in case they need it, as well as your return address. Send the package by registered mail or cargo delivery service to the address listed on their website. You'll be given a tracking number by the postal service or cargo delivery company, which you can use to check the status of the delivery on their website and verify that the competent authority has received your package. What the Competent Authority Does Each competent authority has a file containing the signatures of government employees who are authorized to issue public documents. After receiving your document, they'll check the signature on the document against their signature exemplars. If everything is okay, they'll attach the apostille to your document (or stamp or place a seal on it), and send it back to you. How Much it Costs and How Long it Takes Each competent authority has its own fees, so the cost will vary. The time it takes will also vary according to your choice of delivery method. But once it gets to the competent authority, turnaround time is usually just one or two business days. Check the website of your competent authority to learn their fees and turnaround time. After you receive the document with the apostille, you must have it translated into Turkish by a yeminli tercumanı (government-authorized translator). This will automatically include a notarization of the translation, so the translator will also take care of that for you. Step 3: Get the Document and the Apostille Translated You can search online for a local official translator, walk around and look for a translation office, or just go to a noter (notary public) office and ask where you can find a translator. Translators and notaries work together, so their offices are usually near each other. The translator will create a translated copy of the document and apostille, have it notarized, and return it to you. For a typical document, this might take as little as one or two hours. You can then give your document to the Turkish authorities and have it accepted. It is now as legal in Turkey as it is in your home country. Important!: Be sure to get a copy of the apostilled document, and the translation, including the notary stamp on the back of the translation. That stamp will have a number which will be important if you ever need the document again (see below). Getting Another Copy If you later need another apostilled and translated copy of the same document, you don't have to go through the whole process again. Just go to the noter with a copy of the previously-notarized document (or at minimum, the number which the noter stamped on the back). The noter will pull their archived copy of the previously-notarized document and give you another notarized copy of it. There is a fee, but it will save you from ever having to go through the whole apostille process again. Finding a Notary You can find the locations of all notaries public in Turkey (which will also direct you to the nearest official translators), here: http://www.tumnoterler.com/ A Note on Private Companies which Arrange Apostilles There are numerous private companies which charge for getting an apostille for your document. They are not "competent authorities" under the Apostille Convention. They simply do everything that I have written above, which you could just as easily do, and charge you more money. Questions? If you have any questions about apostilles or other legal issues, please post them in our Turkish Law Forum.