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The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents –– the Apostille Convention, for short, or yet the Apostille Treaty — came into force in Brazil on August 14, 2016. But the question is: What changes now?

The aim is to facilitate the use of public documents of a nation in other countries which are signatories of the Treaty, as well. For example, a document notarized in Brazil may be presented in the United States or Japan, provided it contains an apostille containing a seal or signature of the competent authority of the country of origin accompanied by a declaration of veracity of the information contained.

The main innovation brought by the Convention is precisely this apostille, which replaces the need for consular legalization of documents, a costly and time consuming process. Now, having a document apostilled will suffice.

In Brazil, the authority to handle this procedure is the NCJ (National Council of Justice). It is responsible for analyzing apostillation requests and registering in its database each new apostille. Consequently, an interested party who needs to check the authenticity of a public document issued in Brazil can simply search for that document’s apostille number in the NCJ’s database.

One must bear in mind that the Convention deals only with what it considers public documents, which it defines in its first article as: a) documents from the Public Prosecutor’s Office; b) administrative documents; c) notarial acts; d) official statements. The Convention does not apply to: i) documents drawn up by diplomatic or consular agents; ii) administrative documents directly related to commercial or customs operation.

The Apostille Convention of The Hague is an important innovation in the legal system –– not only in Brazil –– but worldwide. Moreover, it may be the first of a new generation of international conventions that will completely change the way of members of the international community relating to each other.

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