The Hague’s “Apostille Convention” finally enters into force in Brazil


rio-1541151_640On December 2nd, 2015, Brazil acceded the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, also called the “Apostille Convention”, which abolishes the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents. This Convention entered into force on August 14th, 2016 in Brazil, thus making it the 111th signatory state to the Convention. This date difference is due to the mandatory period of six months and sixty days after which the Convention officially becomes effective.

What is an apostille ?

An apostille is a certification issued by a competent authority to confirm that the signature, seal or stamp on a public document was performed by a public officer in the exercise of its functions. It aims to remove the legalization chains required in the past. However, it does not recognize the validity of the document content.

The apostilles are affixed by the countries that joined the “Hague Convention” in 1961, abolishing the requirement of consular legalization. All public documents drawn up in these countries and destined to foreign countries must contain the apostille (extracts of civil status documents, criminal records, certificates of any type issued by official bodies, notarial deeds and notarial attestations of signature, certificates issued by public institutions, etc.).

What is the purpose of the Apostille Convention?

The Convention aims to facilitate the movement of public documents from one country to another. Thus, the documents from signatory states to the convention are no longer subject to a diplomatic or consular legalization requirement in order to be valid and effective with other signatories. These legalization actions are replaced by a simple system with unique verification, through the affixing of an apostille to the document, contributing to a significant reduction in time and costs. In France, the Courts of Appeal issue the apostille for public documents.

The US, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, India and Italy are some of the states already signatories to the Convention.

Brazil: a different legal system

Brazil is a presidential, federal republic, consisting of 26 states and one federal district (Brasilia) which has its own legislative assembly and therefore, legislates independently. The President and the Congress share legislative power, indicating that many powers come into play between the two.

Brazil also has a wide variety of legal rules and texts: for example, the 1988 Constitution is one of the world’s longest texts, given that it is here that a large number of principles guaranteeing the fundamental rights of Brazilian citizens and establishing the presidential federal system are provided for.

The Brazilian legal system is specific and the use of the apostille will prove extremely useful so as to ensure the authenticity of a criminal record or a certified proxy.

A simplified authentication of Brazilian legal documents

The originality of the Brazilian legal system lies thus in the difficulty of finding a balance between federal powers and the numerous principles laid down in the national constitution.

The Brazilian administration/bureaucracy?? is complex because of the multiple procedures, in particular with regard to the translation and authentication of documents for companies wishing to conduct business with Brazilian companies or to be set up in Brazil. The specificities of the Brazilian language are an additional hurdle to the relevant translations.

Adherence to the Hague Apostille Convention will simplify the bureaucratic procedures for foreign investors wishing to set up a business in Brazil and Brazilian companies wishing to export abroad, as well as the validation of foreign company documents in relation to public invitations to tender.

Finally, it should be recalled that for France in particular, Brazil had already signed a significant convention with the French government on May 28, 1996, the  Convention concerning legal assistance in civil matters between the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Government of the French Republic . It was promulgated by Decree nº3.598 of September 12, 2000. This agreement is even more favourable than the Convention as it completely abolishes the diplomatic or consular legalization, by opposition to the Apostille Convention that merely simplifies procedures.