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What is the Difference Between Authentication and Legalization?

Discover the Apostille alternative process of authentication and legalization. Learn the meanings behind terms like Notarization, Authentication, and Legalization. The blog also talks about the requirements of this process and the type of documents that need authentication.

3 mins

June 3, 2021


In order for Canadian documents to be officially recognized in other Hague Convention signatory countries, they must be apostilled. Non Hague Convention countries, however, still follow the conventional authentication and legalization process. This is why it is important to understand these terms and what they imply if you plan on submitting your documents to any of these non-member countries. 


Firstly, organizations around the globe may require your documents to be formally notarized, authenticated, and legalized in order to prove that they are genuine. As an equivalent of apostille attestation in non-Hague countries, document authentication and legalization follows a three-step approach.

Notarization , Authentication & Legalization Process

1. Notarization – Requires a notary or lawyer to approve signatures on your document followed by the attachment of a notarization seal.

2. Authentication – Involves seeking a certificate of authenticity for your document from the document authentication authority in your country. 

3. Legalization – Final step in which we attach a certificate of legalization after a government official at the embassy has thoroughly inspected your document.

Types of Authenticated Documents

Here is a list of common documents that may need to be authenticated and legalized:

  • Birth certificates
  • Certificates of origin
  • Certificates of Pharmaceutical products
  • Certificates of residency
  • Commercial invoices
  • Criminal record checks
  • Death certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Educational documents
  • Goods manufacturing practices (GMP) certificates
  • Manufacturer’s declarations
  • Pilot’s licenses

Requirements for the authentication

In order for your documents to be authenticated and legalized, they must be original. Oftentimes, for some important documents, such as diplomas and birth certificates, individuals may not prefer additional stamps on their original documentation. In this case, they must visit a notary public and obtain a true copy of the document which is stamped, signed, and dated by the lawyer themselves. Authentication can only occur once the document is notarized. 

Signature Verifications

During the process’s legalization segment, the consulate or embassy will include their own certificate, sticker, or stamp to your documents. Every consulate or embassy differs from others in terms of style, format, colour, and the language of the process. The Legalization process verifies that the embassy or the consulate recognizes the authentication officer’s signatures at Global Affairs Canada.

How is it different from apostille?

Although many consider apostille and authentication processes the same, they are slightly different. A document that has gone through the process of Authentication is only eligible in the country for which it is legalized. Whereas an apostilled document can be used in any other apostille country without any means of additional requirements. The purpose of both processes is the same, which is to certify a document to be recognized in another country officially. Apostille certifications are only issued to the countries that come under the Hague Apostille Convention. 


We can make the process very easy for you by handling all the documents on your behalf. Our team would be happy to get obliged with you and give a thorough detail about the process to expedite this lengthy procedure. 


Process of Authentication

The second step, authentication, is when a designated authority issues a stamp verifying the authenticity of the document. This is a vital step in order for legalization to occur. So we'd recommend you to ensure that your document is authenticated before it is legalized. 


The last step, legalization, is when a certificate of legalization is issued at the embassy of the country where you will be submitting the document. The complete process of authentication and legalization is pillared with signature verifications. 

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. Notarization, Authentication & Legalization Process
      1. Types of Authenticated Documents
        1. Requirements for the authentication
          1. Signature Verifications
            1. How is it different from apostille?
              1. Process of Authentication
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