Why is Canada Not a Signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention?

Published on Friday, May 22, 2020

The Hague Apostille Convention has been signed by over one hundred countries worldwide, including most of Canada’s major trading partners. But Canada has not signed. This article looks at the question of why Canada is not a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention and what this means for processing Canadian documents for use in foreign countries.

What is the Hague Apostille Convention?

The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961 is an international treaty that creates a “universal” process for confirming the authenticity of documents from one participating country so that they will be recognized in all other participating countries – the apostille process. The apostille process that was created by the Hague Apostille Convention is comparable to the document notarization process used domestically within countries.

In total, there are 118 countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention. Every signatory country issues and recognizes apostilles on documents. Here you will find a link to a list of all signatory countries. Canada has not signed the Hague Apostille Convention, and therefore cannot issue apostilles.

Why hasn’t Canada signed the Apostille convention?

While the details of why Canada has not signed the apostille convention are complex, there is a simple underlying explanation. Basically, Canada has not signed the Hague Apostille Convention because of how the relationship between provinces and the federal government is structured in this country. Before the federal government is able to sign the convention it would need to actively coordinate the agreement of all provinces. Getting complete provincial agreement on an issue is not easy to accomplish in Canada. Over the many decades since the Hague Apostille Convention came into force there have been various discussions towards signing, but little progress.

Since Canada is not a signatory to the Apostille Convention, we cannot issue an apostille on Canadian documents. Instead, Canada has a different process that allows Canadian documents to be officially recognized outside of Canada.

What is the Canadian equivalent to the Apostille stamp?

The Canadian equivalent to the apostille stamp is a process called document authentication and legalization. This process verifies the signatures on your documents, certifying their authenticity to parties outside of Canada and makes them valid for use abroad. Document authentication and legalization is a three-step process:

1) Preparing your documents for the authentication and legalization process.

2) Document authentication at Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.

3) Document legalization at the diplomatic mission of the country in which you intend to use the documents.

Click on the links above for more information on each of these steps.

What is the difference between an apostille stamp and document authentication and legalization?

Both an apostille stamp and the Canadian authentication and legalization process accomplish the same goal – allowing a document from one country to be officially recognized in another country. However, there is one significant difference. A document that has an apostille will be accepted in any country that has signed the Hague Apostille Convention. However, with the Canadian authentication and legalization process, you must legalize your documents separately for each country in which you intend to use them.

I still have questions and need more information about this process. Can you help?

Yes, we would welcome the chance to answer your questions! As Canada’s leading authentication and legalization experts we process many thousands of documents for our clients every year. When you contact our friendly staff we will explain the process and clearly outline your options. No obligation and no pressure. We work with you to ensure your documents are prepared correctly. You then send your documents to our Ottawa office and we handle all aspects of the authentication and legalization process on your behalf. Call us toll-free at 1-888-433-1011 or send us an online enquiry and we’ll get right back to you.