Copies Authenticated by a Notary, Apostilles and Chain Legalization

A guide to getting official copies made of foreign documents

This article was provided by the Grabmüller Translation Agency.

In our last article, Official Translations, we explained verification of a translation by a court-appointed interpreter. This article will cover authenticated copies made by notaries and legalization of foreign documents by an apostille or by the chain method.

As we stated in the previous article, a translation verified by a court-appointed interpreter is permanently attached to the document in the original language. That document is either the original or an authenticated copy of the original. In the Czech Republic, certified copies of documents in foreign languages are made by notaries, but the notary is not responsible for the contents of the document. An authenticated copy is equally as valid as the original document.

The price per printed page of an authenticated copy of a document costs 30-40 CZK. Authenticated copies of originals are made immediately upon request.

Authenticated copies are not made in the following cases:

• a document that cannot be substituted for an authenticated copy or that may not be legally copied, such as an identity card, passport, driver's license, green card (permanent resident card), bank check, bill of exchange, etc.

• if the original document contains alterations, insertions or deletions that could cast doubt on its authenticity

A document must be legalized if it is to be used for official purposes in another country.

There are two different kinds of legalization:

Apostille
An apostille is authentication of a public document for the purpose of its use abroad. By an apostille, an authority of the state where the document was issued verifies the document's authenticity. An apostille only applies to contact between countries that are parties to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents, dated October 5, 1961.

The Hague Convention does not, however, apply to the authentication of translations of documents into a foreign language. We therefore recommend having a document and its apostille translated in the country where the document will be presented.

If you need to use a document issued by an authority of the Czech Republic -- such as a marriage license or a university diploma -- in another country, it would be a good idea to have the document affixed with an apostille. Czech apostilles are issued either by the Foreign Ministry or by the Justice Ministry in Prague.

Chain Authentication Method
The chain authentication method for official documents consists of authentication of signatures and official seals on such documents. Chain authentication serves the same purpose as an apostille, but it involves more bureaucratic complications and is more expensive. This method of legalization applies to documents that are to be used in countries with which the Czech Republic has not entered into any multilateral international treaty abolishing the requirement that foreign public documents be legalized -- countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention.

Chain authentication involves three levels of authentication. First the document is authenticated by the state authority that supervises the issuing authority of the document. The next step is authentication by the relevant foreign ministry's consular department (Department of State in the USA). The final step is legalization by the embassy or consulate of the country where the authenticated document is to be used.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions.

This article was provided by the Grabmüller Translation Agency. For contact details, see Grabmüller's Prague Directory listing.

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