It is well known that, when it is necessary to use a national document in international territory and that this document has the same recognition abroad, the Apostille mechanism is used in order to use it abroad. This exists thanks to the Hague Convention No. XII of October 5, 1961, which makes it easier to prove the validity of a document before any country that has previously recognized this Convention.
However, this facility is abolished when the country receiving the document has not recognized the said Convention, causing an apostilled document to have no value or effectiveness for that State. For this, it is necessary to initiate a chain of legalization in order to certify the authenticity of the document to be used. It should be clarified that, in part, the procedure will depend on the requirements established by the embassy of the country to which the legalized documentation is to be sent. In this case, the procedure is as follows:
- Initially, the document must be legalized before the Colombian This process can be done through the web page of the same, which will request to upload the document to be legalized and subsequently make the respective payment for such procedure. Depending on the document to be legalized, this procedure may take from one to four days, approximately.
- It is worth mentioning that if the document to be legalized is one issued by the Chamber of Commerce, such as the Certificate of Existence and Legal Representation of a legal entity, the Chancellery page will request, a validation code, which is given by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (or SIC), along with the To do so, in the SIC web page, we will open our account and request an official signature certificate. For this step it is essential to click on the option in which we also request the apostille of the same; this will allow the certificate, which will be delivered electronically by the SIC the same day it is requested, to bring with it the validation code, which we will later use to legalize our document before the Chancellery web page.
- Subsequently, the document, previously legalized before the chancellery, must be submitted to the embassy of the country of destination of the document. This step will depend on the requirements imposed by the embassy for the legalization Even within the precautions to be taken due to COVID-19, it is advisable to communicate previously with the embassy, since some of them provide that the process must be carried out in person at their headquarters.
- Once the document has been legalized by the embassy of the destination country, it must be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where the document is to be used, in order to authenticate the legalization Once this stage is completed, the document will be suitable for use in the destination country.
Although the purpose of this article is to guide the reader about the legalization process between Colombia and countries that have not endorsed the Hague Convention, it is worth mentioning the worrying way in which the Colombian Foreign Ministry assumes its role in this type of procedures, especially when it is a cornerstone in the legalization chain, It is plausible that some documents to be legalized do not meet the necessary requirements to be admitted for processing before the Foreign Ministry, so in this type of cases it is important to communicate with the latter, in order to guarantee the user a greater agility in this type of procedures. Agility, that in many occasions is affected due to the lack of attention from the Colombian Chancellery to the different users who wish to clarify their doubts; reaching scenarios where platforms such as the telephone line or the chat provided by the same on its website, do not provide any response to those who need it. This may be due to problems in the platform or to a high demand on the services of the chancellery, hindering the other functions of the same.
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About the author:
Samuel Fuentes is a lawyer, part of the team of Gestiones Empresariales López & James Bogotá and specializes in the areas of Human Rights and Criminal Law.
Bogotá D.C. July 7, 2020.