Canada Joins the Hague Apostille Convention

On May 16, 2023, Global Affairs Canada has formally jointed the Hague Apostille Convention, (“HAC”) which will come into effect on January 11, 2024. This will allow those persons or organizations conduction business in Canada to forego having Canadian public documents legalized by a consular officer at the destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada. In its place, public documents can be submitted to select authorities designated by the federal government that will be able to issue an authenticity certificate. This is referred to as an apostille. The said document may now be used in any of the 124 countries that are signatory to the HAC.

The HAC strives to streamline the use of public documents across the signatory jurisdictions by replacing the traditional and often time-consuming legalization process with the issuance of a single apostille. An apositlle is issued by the country where the document originates and serves as an authentication of the country of origin of the said document, when it is presented to the governmental body or private party in the receiving jurisdiction. It is important to note that the apostille does not certify, verify or in any way authenticate the substantive content of the document, but rather it only certifies the authenticy of origin, including authenticity of a signature, stamp or seal affixed to the document.

The HAC scope is restricted to “public documents”, a term which is not expressly defined in the convention. The public nature of a document is determined by the law of the place where document originates. Article 1 of the HAC provides some examples of public documents, which includes:

  • documents issued by governmental authorities, courts or tribunals (e.g., birth an marriage certificates, corporate certificates of good standing and court documents);
  • administrative documents (e.g. corporate records, civil status documents, grants of license, and certificates from administrative authorities);
  • notarial acts; and official certificates which hare placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date, and notarial authentication of signatures.

As a rule, if a document was subject to legalization prior to the entry into force of the HAC, or it remains subject to legalization because it is to be produce in a non-contracting state, it is likely to qualify as a public document under the HAC.

Prior to the signing of the HAC, authenticating documents for use in Poland was often a three stage process (if they required a signature or notary service). First, a commissioner or notary would authenticate the signature of the relevant party, or provide a notarial certificate for an original document. Second, Official Document Services in Toronto would provide an authentication certificate confirm the status of the staid commissioner or notary. Finally, the Polish Consulate would authenticate the document for use in Poland.

Once the HAC takes effect on January 11, 2024, the final step will no longer be required. As a signatory to the HAC an apostille can be obtained directly from Official Document Services, which would, in theory, be accepted as valid in Poland. However, as a practical matter, it is still best to confirm with the receiving jurisdiction or their representative to ensure that the new, one step process, will suffice.

At Empel Law Professional Corporation, Arkadiusz J. Empel has prepared many documents, ranging from power of attorney’s to estate recusal’s for use in Poland. If you or someone you know requires any such document, he may be reached at 416-500-1937 to assist.  

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Arkadiusz J. Empel urodził się w Katowicah. Jako dziecko emigrował do Kanady, razem z rodziną, lecz wrócił jako student aby ukończyć Pracę Magisterską w Krakowie. Przez swoją pracę z polonią w okolicy Toronto utrzymał władność w swojim języku ojczystym. Jeżeli Państwo życzy się skonsultować prosto z adwokatem Polski, proszę przedzwonić na numer 416-500-1937.