How to Get an Apostille on Documents Issued in Spain
If you intend to get married, set up residence, take up employment, study, or establish a business anywhere outside Spain, you may be asked to provide documents so that your marriage, residence, job, or business can be registered legally locally. Each document needed outside Spain may also need to be legalised.
Getting an Apostille in Spain
There are different legalisation procedures used in Spain which depend on the country you are going to use the documents for.
Use in other EU states
1. Spain has an agreement with the other member states of the European Union which absolves the need for the legalisation of most multilingual documents issued in any one member state. This means, for example, that if you need your birth certificate (certificado de nacimiento) or marriage certificate (certificado de matrimonio) in Germany or Italy, you don’t need to legalise it. The original certificate is good enough.
Note that as of 1st January 2021, the U.K. is no longer in the E.U. However, it is a signatory to the Hague Convention (see below)
Use outside of the EU
2. Spain is one of many countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention on the mutual recognition of documents. A simplified legalisation procedure is in place between any two countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. This involves the use of an apostille (in Spanish, apostilla de la Haya). How to get an apostille in Spain for use in another non E.U. country is the main subject of this article.
Use in a non-Hague country
3. For any non E.U. country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, a separate legalisation procedure may be necessary. This depends on the requirements of the foreign country. Legalisation of Spanish documents is a standard procedure which can be used where necessary. This procedure is separate to and administered by a different administrative authority than those that issue apostilles.
So, what is an apostille?
An apostille issued in Spain is a simplified legalisation method that affirms that the signature or seal on a document issued in Spain is genuine. Note that the Spanish apostille is only a confirmation of the genuineness of the signature or seal on the document, not the content of the document itself.
As documents issued in Spain will be in Spanish it is standard procedure to have these translated by a sworn Spanish translator (in Spanish, traductor jurado) into the language of the country for which the document is needed if it isn't a Spanish speaking country. If you are legalising a translation along with the original document, the signature of the sworn translator must also be authenticated by a notary (notario).
When do you need an apostille?
An apostille is needed whenever a government agency or employer has to examine a foreign official or legal document. It is important that the document can be verified easily so most governments and official bodies now insist on an apostille being attached to each official or legal document that is requested and issued in a foreign country.
Apostilles cannot be forged because whoever is entrusted to issue an apostille is entrusted to check each official document, signatures, seals and watermarks very carefully to make sure it is genuine. This eliminates the problem that most foreign governments and government agencies might have in trying to decide what is genuine and what is not. In Spain, an apostille may take the form of a certificate, a seal or stamp attached to the original document or the authenticated sworn translation of it.
How to get an apostille in Spain
Just to make this clear, you do not need an apostille if you have been asked to provide an official or legal document issued in Spain for someone or an agency already within Spain or (for most documents) in any other member state of the E.U.
Officially, apostilles are only recognised by countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. The number of countries belonging to the Hague Convention is currently over 110 with the number increasing on a regular basis. Even countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention may ask for an apostille, but then follow this up with further legalisation by their own embassies. Legalisation can be carried out by the appropriate authority in Spain of Spanish documents. The Spanish consulate or embassy in the country for which you need a Spanish document legalised may also be able to legalise it for you.
Because there are now so many people wanting to travel, marry, get jobs, study or just go and live as a retiree in other countries, there has been a surge in requests for apostilles. Fortunately, this has been matched by an increase in services that can be trusted to get an apostille for you when you need it quickly. Note that when apostilles are needed for a country where Spanish is not the official language, they also need to be translated into the language of the country that has requested it.
There are excellent apostille translation services available that can get you the apostille(s) you need in the language you need quickly and efficiently. To use a sworn translation service, you need to get your apostille first then have it translated by a sworn translator/ traductor jurado. Use Translayte to assist you in swift and professional translation of documents and their Apostilles.
Who actually provides the apostille?
In Spain, apostilles are provided, at no cost, by the relevant agency, depending on the issuing authority of the document (after prior acknowledgement of the signature for some administrative documents). There are several agencies that issue apostilles. These are listed below.
For Public Administrative Documents and Judicial Documents, use any of these three agencies
- Central Citizen Service Office of the Ministry of Justice.
- Government Secretariats of the Superior Courts of Justice and of the cities of Ceuta and Melilla.
- Territorial Managements of the Ministry of Justice and Delegated Offices of Ceuta and Melilla.
For Public judicial documents issued by the National Court and the Supreme Court use the Secretaries of Government of the respective courts.
For notary documents and private documents whose signatures have been authenticated before a notary, use the notarial association or notary delegated to issue apostilles.
Note that it is important to know which agency you need to send your documents to for both an acknowledgement of signatures and for the issuing of apostilles as the procedure is quite complicated. A full list of agencies is provided (in Spanish) by this Spanish government website.
Requirements for getting an apostille in Spanish
You can either appear in person at one of the government agencies mentioned above with the documents you need an apostille for, together with the acknowledgement of signatures already obtained if necessary, or you can send your documents by post to one of the relevant agencies listed.
Note that this does take considerable time and you should prepare well in advance if you need to legalise documents with an apostille needed in a foreign country.