Contrary to what the name may suggest, Apostille does not have anything to do with religion. Apostille certification is a formal name for an official procedure, whereby official documents issued in one country are certified in a uniform way. By means of this certification, documents from one country become formally acceptable in any other country. This procedure was established by the 1961 Hague Convention. Almost all countries of the world are part to this Convention as of today – although there are a few notable exceptions.
At the Apostille process, the signature of the officer, who has certified the document locally (usually, that the Notary or the Chief Registrar of the Companies Registry) is followed up by a second-level certification. A specific stamp or sticker, called “Apostille”, is attached to the document, besides the Notarial text. Contrary to a popular belief, the Apostille does not confirm the actual contents of the document. Apostille merely certifies that the first-level certifier – the Notary or the government officer – is real, and has the appropriate rights and powers to make the underlying certification in the first instance. In essence, Apostille is the official confirmation of the post and powers of the Notary or that of a government officer.
Apostille is usually issued by a designated government department, like the Foreign Office, or by the Supreme Court of the country.