Legalisation makes it possible to guarantee the authenticity of legal instruments or documents drawn up in accordance with French law, to favour their production and acceptance abroad.
Legalisation also attests to the accuracy of the signature affixed to a legal instrument as well as the capacity of those who executed or sent it.
What are the legal instruments concerned?
Documents and references from an authority or official come under a state jurisdiction: administrative documents, notarial deeds, formal declarations such as registration details, official certificate recording the existence of a document on a certain date and certification of signatures affixed to a private deed.
Since 17 August 2015, legal instruments or documents issued to a Member State of the European Union when settling an estate are exempt from any legalisation.
The legalisation procedure
Legalisation may come under different procedures.
- Most often, the legal instrument drawn up abroad will be legalised in France by the consul of the country where it was established. A power of attorney issued by a notary in the Lebanon will, for example, have to be legalised by the French consul in Beirut or by the Lebanese consulate in France, to be produced in France.
- Legalisation will sometimes fall under the apostille regime, a simplified form of legalisation consisting in affixing to a document the imprint of an identical stamp in all countries which are signatory states to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961.
For example, the power of attorney to accept a shared gift executed in authentic form by a Japanese notary shall be legalised in the form of the apostille issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Japan, in accordance with the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 in force in Japan.
The apostille is issued by an authority designated by the state from which the document emanates and conforms to a model appended to the Convention.
The list of authorities responsible for issuing the apostille in each country can be found on the Hague Conference website at the address of the Convention (www.hcch.net)
Decree no. 2007-1205 of 10 August 2007 on the powers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors to legalise legal instruments