The word “Apostille” (pronounced a-pos-TEE, not a-pos-TEAL or a-pos-TILL-ee) is of French origin. It comes from the French verb “apostiller,” which derives from the old French word postille meaning “annotation,” and before it, the Latin word postilla, a variation of the word postea, which means “thereafter, afterward, next.”
This testifies that the notary’s authority was valid at the time the notarial act occurred. This process is called authentication, or legalization, of the document. These documents may include court documents, civil records, other documents issued by an administrative authority, and notarized documents.
This used to be quite a complicated collection of forms that were required to accompany the notarized document. However, in an attempt to streamline the process, since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.
The Convention provides for the much-simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Documents destined for use in participating countries and their territories should be certified by one of the officials in the jurisdiction in which the document has been executed. The official must have been designated as competent to issue certifications by ‘Apostille’ (usually in the State Secretary of State or state notary administrator) as provided for by the 1961 Hague Convention.