Trade & investment

ICC urges States to ratify Apostille Convention for simplified authentication of public documents

  • 14 December 2012
ICC Finance

ICC is encouraging governments to ratify an international treaty that proposes simplified authentication formalities to produce public documents abroad.

ICC is also calling for expanded and modernized use of the treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Cross-border trade of goods can require a considerable amount of paperwork whose origin often need authenticating by foreign officials and other third parties. Known also as the Apostille Convention, the treaty replaces the costly and burdensome process of legalization that typically involves a chain of certificates. With a single formality an ‘Apostille’ cuts red tape in a document’s country of origin by certifying its authenticity vis-a-vis foreign administrations.

The Apostille Convention – whose full title is The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents –has been ratified by over 100 States since it was adopted in 1961, thereby establishing the Apostille system as a global standard recognized and expected by parties involved in cross-border transactions.

Confirming the origin (authenticity) of the underlying public document Apostilles are issued by an authority designated by the country where the document originates and facilitate cross-border trade and foreign investment as underscored in the World Bank 2010 report Investing Across Borders.

In accordance with the recommendations of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, ICC, through the ongoing work of its Commission on Commercial Law and Practice, encourages States to apply the Convention in all situations where legalization was previously required and urges States that are not currently party to join the Convention.

Although the scope of the Convention does not include administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations, ICC supports the current practice in many States of issuing Apostilles for documents such as import and export licenses, health certificates and certificates of origin or conformity.

ICC also welcomes efforts by States to issue and accept electronic Apostilles, as well as to operate online registers of Apostilles, as part of the electronic Apostille Programme (e-APP) developed by the Hague Conference. The e-APP is a valuable complement to the growing use of digital technologies to facilitate international trade.

For more information on the Convention, the e-APP, and the Hague Conference Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the Hague Apostille, Service, Taking of Evidence and Access to Justice Conventions, please see the “Apostille Section” or the Hague Conference website at

Visit the ICC Commission on Commercial Law and Practice for more information on their activities.