When documents such as birth certificates, judgments, notorial attestations (acknowledgement of signatures) and other public documents from one country for use in another country, it needs to be legalized. Traditionally it involves a complex process and officials of the country where the document was issued as well as the foreign embassy or consulate of the country where the document to be used have to put their seal. In order to avoid this complex process apostle convention was formed. A large number of countries have joined a treaty called Hague convention of 5th October 1961 abolishing the recruitment of legislation of foreign public documents. It is commonly known as apostle convention. The list of countries who are members to this convention is listed in http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=41. By this treaty by a single formality of issuance of an authenticating certificate by a competent authority, designated by the country where the document was issued, the document will become an authenticated document in every member country. This authentication certificate is called Apostille.
India is a member of this convention from 2005. The competent authority in India is Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. Please see the address at http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=authorities.details&aid=643. Hence any public documents from India could apostlle. India being a federal system documents originated from different states requiring apostilles should be first authenticated by the designated officer of the state government. To know the details of the competent officers please read http://www.mea.gov.in/legalization-of-documents.htm. There after the ministry of external affairs legalize the documents. In earlier days the ministry of external affairs had a special counter to accept documents for apostle. Recently, MEA has outsourced document collection work to some private agencies. These private agencies have offices in many cities. Details of those agencies are in the above link.
The apostle is required for use of certificates abroad like birth, marriage and death certificates, documents emanating from various courts, commissions, commercial registers, notorial act, university certificates etc. An apostille does not certify the content of the document it merely authenticate the signature of the person issued the certificate.
By: Rajesh Vellakkat