In international law, attestation is the process of certifying a document so a foreign country’s legal system will recognize it. The process is used routinely in international commerce.
The procedure for legalizing a foreign document varies from country to country. The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization for Foreign Public Documents has supplanted this procedure with the use of an apostille for countries that are signatories to that convention.
For purposes of document attestation, countries are divided into two groups: those that are signatories to the Hague Convention and those that are not. Signatories of the Convention have agreed that Consular authentication of documents is no longer required and in most cases, execution of the documents by a Notary Public is sufficient.
Countries that have opted to not participate in the Hague Convention of 1961 typically require that documents be authenticated by the foreign affairs ministry of the originating country. Once authenticated by the foreign ministry the documents then need to be reviewed and approved by the consular staff of the country in which the transaction is to occur. Typically, this process must be completed before an international shipment of goods will be allowed entry into a non-participating country.