Legalization of documents

How to legalize a document?

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Legalization in the US

Belgian consuls do not legalize official US documents for use in Belgium. 

Belgium and the United States, together with other countries,  have signed the Convention of the Hague of 1961. This Convention introduces a simplified "apostille" procedure, replacing the more cumbersome legalization. Official documents issued by one memberstate of this Convention, need but a single authentification "stamp", the apostille to become valid for use in another memberstate. 

In the United States, the apostille is issued by the Secretary of State of the state where the document was issued. 

You can find a list of the designated competent authority per state by clicking here

Legalization in Belgium 

A document that is official and legal in one country is not necessarily official and legal in another. Many documents must therefore be legalized if you wish to use them abroad.

The legalization process involves checking the origin of the relevant document. Legalization is official confirmation that the signature of the civil servant that has signed a document, or the seal or stamp on the document, is legitimate.

It is not only the signature of the person that has issued the document that is legalized, the process can also legalize the signature of the legalizing registrar. Every signature, every seal and every stamp will be legalized by the person authorised to do so and who is familiar with each signature, seal or stamp. This explains why various legalizations are sometimes required, in a specific order.

A country may have signed up to a legalization treaty that encompasses agreements about how countries accept one another's official documents. Many countries have signed up to the "Apostille Convention" of The Hague of 5 October 1961. With this, just 1 legalization is required via an apostille stamp.

Questions and answers about the legalization of documents

For legalization from abroad, you can also consult the website of our representative at the location concerned, i.e. Belgian embassies and consulates

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