Overseas translation agency

The Hague Apostille and sworn translation process

The Hague Apostille (or Single Legalisation) is a legalisation procedure that turns a national public document internationally valid. Introduced in the Hague Convention of 1961, its main purpose is to certify the authenticity of public documents issued between countries signatory to the agreement, thus avoiding the need for various legalisations and bureaucratic procedures.

If you already have your documents apostilled or are awaiting the apostille and need a sworn translation, you can count on Overseas Translations. We render sworn translation services into English, French, German, Polish, Italian or any other language for which there are sworn translators accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

What’s the purpose of the Hague Apostille?

An apostille guarantees that the documents issued in a country signatory to the Convention can be recognised in the destination country, thereby waiving the need for any additional authentication.

The apostille is most commonly used to certify documents issued by government authorities, such as:

  • Notarial documents: powers of attorney, public deeds, notarial acts, affidavits, contracts, etc.
  • Court documents: rulings, decrees, conciliation acts, etc.
  • Administrative documents: birth, marriage and death certificates, university degree certificates, diplomas, criminal record certificates, etc.

There are a number of documents that cannot be apostilled:

  • Documents issued by diplomatic or consular officials
  • Administrative documents directly related to a commercial or customs operation

It is important to bear in mind that documents must be apostilled in the country where they originate. For instance, if the document was issued in Spain, it can only be apostilled in Spain; if a public document was released in France, you will have to request this procedure in France.

Another option is to apply for legalisation of foreign documents through embassies or consulates in Spain or, in case of Spanish documents abroad, through diplomatic channels such as Spanish embassies.

Poder legal

What information does the Hague Apostille contain?

An apostille is the process by which a stamp is placed on the original document or a sworn copy thereof. It provides information about the issuing country and the issuing entity, the signature of the signing official and the date of issuance, among other relevant data. It also includes an authentication code.

Apostilles issued in Spain on documents emitted in your country come in trilingual format: Spanish, French and English. However, not all fields are translated, only the template. This is why fields such as the position of the signatory, among others, are not translated and therefore you could face issues with the acceptance of the document in the destination country if you do not have a sworn translation of all the contents of the apostille.

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Apostilla e1708514621303

The validity of the Hague Apostille and sworn translation

It is important to note that the apostille is only valid between parties to the Hague Convention. You can access the list of the signatory countries here. If you have to present a document in a country not included in this list, you will have to inquire about all the legalisation or authentication procedures.

If you need to present an apostilled document with a sworn translation in a third country for any procedure such as a public tender, opening a subsidiary or a commercial office or for any other matter, you will need a sworn translation of the same, including a sworn translation of the Apostille.

If you’re unsure about what a sworn translation is and what it entails, we encourage you to read our blog post which delves into its characteristics, deadlines, costs and much more.

A sworn translation is a document that has been certified by an authorised translator to faithfully and accurately reflect the original document and has a legal validity in the target country. However, we always recommend checking with the destination body or embassy first whether the translation will be accepted before carrying it out, since depending on the target country, you may have to request a legalisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

How to apply for the Hague Apostille

Below you will find a link to the standard procedure to obtain an apostille for your documents, which will vary depending on the type of document you wish to legalise:

  • Documents issued by local authorities
  • Notary documents
  • Court documents
  • Commercial documents
  • Academic documents
  • Documents from religious bodies

Follow this link from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to consult all the steps to take for your procedures to take effect immediately.

Some documents can be requested online with a digital certificate. However, there are currently only a few documents that can be apostilled online; you can find out whether your document has to be apostilled in person in the “Legalisation and Apostille” section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Notaria publico

Legalisation of documents in Barcelona and Madrid

Do you need us to handle the authentication process of your documents? At Overseas Translations we offer a comprehensive 360º service to make these formalities hassle-free; besides their complexity, they are usually lengthy despite the urgency with which clients typically need the sworn translation of their apostilled documents.

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We work with trusted advisors who handle and coordinate the entire legalisation process to make it as swift as possible. Our partners are based in Barcelona and Madrid, but if you are in another city, don’t fret; courier service will help you receive the documents in paper the next day once the process is finished or the same day if it’s a sworn translation with digital signature.

A successful case of the apostille process and sworn translation in Barcelona

Recently, a client in the construction and civil engineering sector needed an apostille and sworn translation of four documents to be submitted in Italy for a public tender. They contacted us to see if we could arrange the apostille and sworn translation of all the documents.

We got down to work and the very same day the notary office was already in the process of legalising the documents. The next step was to submit the documents to the College of Notaries, which applies a standard fee per document and the usual deadline is three working days. On the other hand, if you need a legalised document urgently (for a higher fee), you can receive it next day, which is precisely what we requested.

The agency sent us the scanned document with the Hague Apostille, and as we had made progress with the sworn translation of the body of the document, the following day we had the sworn translation ready along with the notary public’s certification and the Hague Apostille.

In short, in less than 72 hours we had handled the legalisation, obtained the apostille and carried out the sworn translation into Italian that the client received with a digital signature to advance the formalities electronically and finally, they received the hard copies by express courier service. Naturally, the client was highly satisfied with our prompt turnaround and we were delighted to have been of help.


As you can see, at Overseas Translations we are always on hand to tend to your sworn translation needs, including the Hague Apostille and even its processing if required.

Do not hesitate to contact us about any urgent translation you need.

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