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Pakistan accedes to Apostille Convention on public documents’ legalisation

President Dr. Arif Alvi on Thursday approved the instrument of accession to the Apostille Convention at the request of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a 'major relief' for overseas Pakistanis.

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President Dr. Arif Alvi on Thursday approved the instrument of accession to the Apostille Convention at the request of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a ‘major relief’ for overseas Pakistanis.

Taking to Twitter, Head of Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi said, “Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to implement & notify notaries across Pakistan to attest documents which will be acceptable at all Hague convention signatory countries.”

He also said that the process would take about six months.

Now all that is needed is formal approval from Hague for the process to kick in. Once Pakistan becomes a member of the Convention, documents attested in line with the treaty’s requirements will be accepted in the 122 countries that are its current members and vice versa.

According to Dawn, the Convention’s purpose is to “abolish the traditional requirement of legalisation, replacing the often lengthy and costly legalisation process with the issuance of a single Apostille certificate by a Competent Authority in the place where the document originated.”

“The existing process of attestation and legalisation of public documents is confusing, time-consuming, cumbersome and costly for most people and becoming a formal member of the Apostille Convention will facilitate millions of overseas Pakistanis.”

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The electronic Apostille Programme (e-APP) was launched in 2006 to support the electronic issuance and verification of Apostilles around the world.

The Convention has over 120 Contracting Parties and has become one of the most widely applied multilateral treaties in the area of legal cooperation, with several million Apostilles issued each year.

The Convention only applies to “public documents.” This term is not expressly defined in the Convention. The public nature of a document is determined by the law of the place where the document originates. It may extend to any document that is not private.

While the list is not exclusive, Article 1 of the Convention provides several examples:

  • Documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State, including those emanating from a public prosecutor, a clerk of a court, or a process-server.
  • Administrative documents.
  • Notarial acts.
  • Official certificates that are 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 authentications of signatures.

In practice, the most popular public documents for which Apostilles are issued are civil status documents (e.g., birth, marriage, and death certificates), notarial authentications of signatures, and diplomas and other educational documents.