by Jen Green, Burch Law
You may never have heard of apostilles; and to be fair, you may never need one. But if you do need one or more apostilles, time is usually of the essence, international transactions are pending, and you need someone familiar with the apostille process to help you obtain them in a timely manner.
When you have a transaction that crosses international borders, for example: if you are opening a business office abroad, buying property overseas, or inheriting an estate outside of the U.S., you may need various documents with apostilles to document the authenticity of the document or the identity of the signatory.
An apostille basically is a form of document authentication established by treaty that can be used in nations that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. The Apostille Treaty (or Apostille Convention) is an international treaty that came out of the Hague Convention on Private International Law. Various nations signed on at different times and under different conditions, so you need to know the apostille requirements for the country that will receive your document with its apostille. This variety makes the process fun.
There are several types of apostille authentications that you can obtain in Texas: recordable documents issued by a Texas officer such as a County Clerk, for instance – you will need to submit the original or a certified copy to the Texas Authentications Unit in Austin; non-recordable documents that are notarized by a Texas Notary Public – you will submit the original document with an original, notarized signature; copies (such as of a passport photo page) that are verified by the signatory/person making the copy and notarized by a Texas Notary Public; requests relating to child adoption; and Texas corporations documents on file with the Texas Secretary of State that can be authenticated by the Texas Secretary of State corporations unit. Some of the apostille requests require different request forms from the standard request, and all require payment of fees and specification for the apostille agency of the nation to which you will send the apostilled documents.
In Texas, the turnaround time for receiving your apostilled document back is relatively quick compared to most government processes, but you want to make sure that you have submitted your documents in a form that the agency can validly authenticate and apostille, along with the proper request and fee payment, or your much-needed apostilles may be delayed for failure to follow the specific requirements of convention and treaty.
So if you find yourself in need of one or more apostilles, contact us. We have experience in obtaining apostilles and in formatting documents and requests to comport with treaty and convention requirements. Let us help you navigate the maze of cross-border document authentications.