The Philippines recently acceded to the “Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents” (the Apostille Convention), and will become effective on 14 May 2019. The Philippines joins the list of some 116 countries that have acceded to the Apostille Convention. The list of member states may be found here.

Practical Implications of the Philippines’ accession to the Apostille Convention

The Apostille Convention simplifies the process for authenticating foreign public documents among member states, by doing away with the authentication and legalization processes usually needed for a foreign public document to be recognized as authentic in another state.

Thus, for instance, without the Apostille Convention, a foreign document to be recognized in the Philippines, will usually require a 3-step process: (a) the document must be signed before a notary public in the foreign state; (b) the notarized document will have to be authenticated by the relevant department in the foreign state; and (c) the authenticated document will have to be legalized in the Philippine embassy located in the foreign state. With the Apostille Convention in place, the foreign document will only need to be notarized by a notary public in the foreign state and apostilled by the relevant department in the foreign state, for the said document to be recognized as a public document in the Philippines.

Conversely, documents executed and notarized in the Philippines do not need to go through the authentication-legalization process to be recognized by other member states. In the Philippines, the DFA Office of Consular Affairs will be issuing the apostilles.

How it affects you

With the Apostille Convention, usual court documents executed abroad (i.e., affidavits, special powers of attorney, corporate secretary / director’s certificates, application forms, birth certificates, marriage certificates, contracts) will no longer go through the tedious process of authentication-legalization abroad – thereby saving on time and costs. It is important to note that the apostillation of a foreign document does not have any effect on the validity or otherwise of said documents. The value, however, of having a foreign document apostilled is for the said document to be considered admissible as evidence before Philippine courts or certain government agencies.