An apostille clause and legalization of foreign documents needed for Polish citizenship confirmation

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Official foreign documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, citizenship certificates, or military service certificates among others, have a special evidentiary power in proceedings concerning the Polish citizenship confirmation. They prove what has been officially stated in them. Thus the circumstances confirmed by such documents should be deemed proven, and there is no need to confirm them in any other way.

What is an Apostille and who can issue it?

Documents issued abroad that we intend to use in the process of the Polish citizenship confirmation should be provided with an Apostille clause. What does it mean? Apostille clause confirms the document’s origin from the appropriate office, i.e. it contains an authentic signature and stamps. However, Apostille does not refer to the content of the document. The Apostille is issued by the competent authority of the country from which the document originates, for example in Poland (and many other countries) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In which countries an Apostille is available?

It should be emphasized that this form of documents’ authentication, the Apostille clause, which is, in fact, a greatly simplified procedure, is only available to countries that are parties to the Convention abolishing the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents, done at The Hague on 5th October 1961. The Hague Convention has been binding for Poland since 14th August 2005. At present, there are over 110 states that are signatories of the Hague Convention, the list of which is available on the official website of HCCH – Hague Conference on Private International Law: https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/?cid=41. 

What is a legalization procedure?

Official documents originating from countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention are subject to a legalization procedure when this is required. The legalization of an official document is a more complicated process, as the document must be verified by at least two entities: the competent authority of the state in which the document was created, and then by a diplomatic mission or consular office of the state in which the document is to be used. Thus, for example, the documents intended for use in the process of Polish citizenship confirmation should be legalized by a Polish consul in the country from which the document originates.

Documents and its usage within European Union

It is also worth mentioning that as of 16th February 2019, documents concerning, among other things, the marital status of a person issued in a European Union member state can be used in other member states without the need for legalization or an Apostille clause.
That has been influenced by the entry into force of the Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6th July 2016 on promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for the presentation of certain public documents in the European Union and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 (Regulation 2016/1191).

An apostille from United Kingdom

An apostille from the United States

Brexit and British citizens of Polish descent

In the United Kingdom there is a big population of British Poles, British citizens of Polish descent. Many of their ancestors settled down in UK after World War II. There were Polish soldiers, servicemen and women, who thought alongside allied forces, Polish military personnel, Polish survivors of German concentration and POW camps.