Brazil’s Congress has enacted the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.

The Convention, which was approved by the National Congress in July 2015, was enacted on January 29, 2016, by Decree No. 8.660. According to such Decree, the Convention will enter into force on August 14, 2016.

The Convention will simplify the international circulation of public documents between Brazil and other countries that already apply the instrument, as well as facilitating cross-border commercial and legal transactions, by eliminating the need for the consular authentication process.  That process will be replaced by the issuance of an “apostille.”

At present, a US-issued document is recognized as valid in Brazil only if its original has been notarized by a public notary, then verified by the county clerk, then  legalized by the Brazilian Consular Authority. An apostille streamlines this ornate process, unifying, in one document, all the information required to validate a public document issued in any of the Convention’s signatory countries. 

In general terms, the apostille certifies the signature, the position or title of the document’s signatory and, if applicable, the authenticity of the seal or stamp affixed to the document. The signature, seal or stamp contained on the apostille is exempted from the necessity for any further certification.

In the US, federally issued documents meant for use in participating Hague apostille countries may be authenticated with an apostille issued by the US Department of State; US state-issued documents destined for use in Hague apostille countries may be authenticated by the competent authority in the state where the document was executed. A list of US competent authorities may be found on this page.

*Marcus Bitencourt and Fabio Campos Mello are partners with Campos Mello Advogados, an independent law firm in Brazil.