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Our experience as a certified translation agency has taught us that some people may think “Ok, so now I have all my documents ready with all the seals!”, and they venture abroad, bringing their documents as they are, with hopes of obtaining foreign citizenship. Life, however, is just not as simple as it seems… It is even easier! But perhaps just not in the case at hand.
If you are planning on getting an education abroad or applying for foreign citizenship, you will be required to provide additional proof of the authenticity of your documents. As an agency, we advise you to check which documents require an apostille and to make sure that it is present prior to departure, so that you can leave with peace of mind. “How and where can I get my documents apostilled?” you may ask. Let’s find out!
An apostille (also found as apostil and pronounced “ah-PO-steel” or “AH-po-steel”) is a specific seal which certifies:
- The authenticity of a document;
- The surname and occupation of person who signed the document.
The act of affixing an apostille is also referred to as the legalisation of documents.
Which documents require an apostille?
- Birth, marriage, and death certificates;
- Notarial acts;
- Legal acts;
- School and specialised secondary education diplomas and certificates;
- Vehicle registration documents;
- Documents related to inheritance proceedings.
An apostille consists of a heading, where the text must correspond to the original French phrasing even in translated copies — “APOSTILLE (Convention de la Haye du 5 octobre 1961)” — and a part which contains information pertaining to the contents of the document being legalised. This primarily mentions the name of the country where the document was issued. Furthermore, the apostille shows the surname and occupation of the person who signed the document. Last but not least, by reading the apostille itself, we can find out when, where, and by whom it was affixed.
Let’s dig even deeper.
Our agency mainly deals with two types of scenarios — and in both cases the apostille is affixed to the original document.
1. Apostilles for Italian documents destined for use abroad
In this case, things could not be easier: the owner of the document (i.e. you) must pay a visit to the closest prefecture. Apostillation can take from roughly less than an hour to a couple of days. The document must be submitted by the owner of the document (you).
There is no need to worry about having the document translated just yet: at this stage all work is carried out on the original. Here at our agency, we tried to think of a way to free you from such a burden and provide you with ready-to-go apostilled documents — just like the service we are able to offer for certified translations. However, there is only one way to properly handle the case at hand: you, the document holder, must be physically present at the prefecture. Be wary of agencies who try to entice you by promising to apostille the original document for you, as they may be people who lack experience or who do not have your best interest in mind.
2. Apostilles for foreign documents destined for use in Italy
If the document is not written in Italian, the apostille is affixed in the country where the document was issued. The relevant authority to contact depends on the nature of the document — this could be a Registrar’s Office, an archive department, public education offices, the Ministry of Justice, etc. You can determine which of the above best suits your needs by searching online.
Wait — what can you do if you are already in Italy?
If you do not want to or simply cannot go back to your country of origin (we would perfectly understand your choice in any case), the Consulate of your home country could help you with the apostillation procedure. The documents will be sent to the country of origin and back (waiting times may vary according to the country).
I finally have my apostille! Now what?
And now we step in! Our team carries out the certified translation of documents which are then sent to your home. Please allow one working day for delivery. The apostille itself must be translated. Our agency works with professional translators who ensure that the quality of the translations meets current standards. Our service allows you to receive your translated documents in three simple steps — you will not even have to leave the house! The sworn translations we provide are certified through an Italian court; we are also able to issue a simple certificate of compliance from our agency instead (depending on how official the translation needs to be) — and all we need are scanned copies of the original.
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