There is a general confusion about notarization and legalization. In fact, sometimes they are considered as synonyms. Regardless of the purpose or scope of any legal procedure, official documents certainly play an essential role. Since there is an endless array of documents, it would be almost impossible to list all of them. Indeed, from personal records, commercial papers, government permits, corporate files, affidavits, academic certificates, and police documents among others.
Very often, these documents are submitted in a court of law or in a government office. However, sometimes even international institutions may require them. Thus, despite the legal procedure or the place of jurisdiction –either local or overseas-, the legalization of documents is a very common requirement.
Notwithstanding, there is a general confusion between the legalization and notarization of documents, as well as the purpose of the Apostille of The Hague.
First of all, a Notary Public is the only certified professional who is duly authorized to notarize documents. Again, very different types of documents may require notarization. In particular, a Notary Public has the capacity to witness the signature of another individual. For instance, a power of attorney requires the signatures of the involved parties to be certified by a Notary Public. This certification should include the embossing stamp, as well as the professional stamp stating the identifying data. Mainly, the Notary Public’s full name, commission state and county, notary commission number, and the commission expiration date.
On the other hand, the legalization of a document involves issuing an apostille. By attaching this internationally recognized certification, that document may be used in an official capacity in another country, as long as that the requesting country is a member of the Hague Convention.
Unlike the notarization, the apostille does not require the professional participation of an attorney. In addition, it is not necessary to have the documents previously notarized in order to obtain the apostille.