Legalisation of documents (or Apostille)

Hague Convention

On the 1st of October 2001 Estonia joined the Hague Convention on abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents, the purpose of which is to simplify international document communications.

If a document issued by a public agency of one country is used in another country, the proof of its authenticity is required. In order to prove the authenticity and the appropriate issuance of a document to public agencies of another state, the document must be either legalised, or certified with an Apostille.


Legalisation is a longer and more complicated procedure that is based on international private law. Pursuant to this practice, a document must be submitted to the competent agencies of the country of its origin, who verifies the authenticity of the document, and thereafter the document is submitted to the other competent public agency (foreign mission) of the other state. This means that the document is certified as ‘legalised’ by public agencies of both the issuing, as well as the receiving country.

Apostille convention

In order to facilitate and simplify recognition of documents, the Convention on Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (‘Apostille Convention’) was concluded in 1961 in Hague. Under this convention a new procedure – certification of a document with an Apostille – was adopted to replace legalisation. The convention prescribes a form with fixed information (Apostille) that is used to prove the authenticity of a public document. 

The countries that have ratified this convention, appoint their public agencies that have the right to certify documents with Apostilles. The list of these public agencies is communicated to the other Member States. If a document has been certified with an Apostille, its authenticity is recognised in all other countries that have ratified the Convention without any additional formalities.

Currently there are 81 states that have ratified the Convention. The list of the Member States of the Hague Conference is provided here...

Apostille free countries

Documents issued in:

  • Belgium
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Russia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Ukraine
  • Poland

do not need an apostille and are accepted by Estonian authorities without formalities.