On many occasions, it is required to provide a document issued in a foreign country. In order to be used in Bulgaria, this document must undergo a certain legalization procedure. In this article we will explain what are the ways for legalization.
What is an apostille and when is it used?
You may need to legalize a document issued in Bulgaria and intended for use abroad, or vice versa – issued abroad and intended for use in Bulgaria. In this case, it will be necessary to affix an apostille to the documents. The apostille is only required for the translation of documents issued by parties to the Hague Convention and will be used again in such countries.
The documents that need an apostille are:
- documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the state;
- administrative documents;
- notarial acts;
- official certificates which are placed on documents signed by persons in their private capacity.
An apostille is not placed on:
- documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents;
- administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations.
The apostille is placed on the document itself or on an allonge and certifies the authenticity of the signatures and seals affixed to the document. The certificate may be drawn up in the official language of the issuing authority. Apostille-certified documents are exempt from any other legalization. The full list of signatories to the Hague Convention can be found here.
When there is a mutual legal assistance treaty, an apostille is not required.
When the document is issued by a country with which Bulgaria has concluded a mutual legal assistance treaty, no apostille is placed on the document. The document must be original, translated into Bulgarian and the translation should be certified. Among the countries with which Bulgaria has a mutual legal assistance treaty are Austria, Albania, Greece, Spain, Italy, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Syria, France and Serbia. The full list of countries with which Bulgaria has signed bilateral agreements on legal assistance can be found here.
When is an apostille not required?
Some documents that will be used within the European Union do not require legalization.
The European Union allows some documents to be used without an apostille. When you present a document (an original or its certified copy) issued by the authorities in one EU country to the authorities in another EU country, the authorities there must accept your document as authentic without an apostille stamp to prove its authenticity. The document may be only in one language, as long as the language is among the official ones in the European Union (e.g. only in Bulgarian).
Documents for which an apostille is not required are in the following areas:
- the fact of a person being alive;
- legal separation or marriage annulment;
- registered partnership;
- domicile and/or residence;
- absence of a criminal record and the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections and elections to the European Parliament.
For example, if you and your spouse live in the Netherlands and decide to divorce there, you will need to present a civil marriage certificate. If the marriage took place in Bulgaria, you can present the certificate in Bulgarian without an apostille.
Procedure for placing an apostille
In Bulgaria, the bodies competent to place an apostille on Bulgarian public acts are:
- Ministry of Justice – for acts of courts and notaries;
- The National Center for Information and Documentation – for educational and certification documents issued by higher schools, by the institutions in the system of pre-school, school and vocational education and training and by the Ministry of Education and Science and its units;
- district administrations – for documents issued by mayors and municipal administrations;
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs – for all other acts.
If in Bulgaria you make a power of attorney for the purchase and sale of real estate, which will have to serve the authorities in Turkey, an apostille is placed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. It is enough for the power of attorney to be in Bulgarian.
How can I certify a document if the country does not issue an apostille?
States that are not parties to the Apostille Convention may not and do not issue an Apostille for any documents. However, there is another option to legalize a document in such a country. It is a little more complicated and we will tell you about it below.
Where the State from which the document is issued is not a Party to the Hague Convention and does not have a legal aid agreement it the necessary:
- The document to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country from which it is issued.
- The certification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be certified by the Bulgarian embassy / consulate in this country.
- If there is no Bulgarian embassy / consulate in the country from which the document was issued, the stamp of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country is certified by the embassy of this country in the capital of a third country, which is also accredited for Bulgaria, i.e. there is a Bulgarian embassy or consulate.
- The signature and certification of the consular service of this embassy must be certified by the consular service of the Bulgarian embassy in this country.
After that, the original document is subject to legalization in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria.
It is advisable to obtain confirmation from the person or institution that requires you to provide a document on the acceptable form of legalization. For example, some banks do not accept power of attorneys with an apostille from countries with which а mutual legal assistance treaty has been concluded. In this case it will be better to certify the power of attorney at the Bulgarian consulate.