Indian Diplomats – The Kerala High Court has announced that Indian diplomats can notarize documents that are required for immigration, solemnizing marriages, and other purposes. This can happen even if the request comes from a nonresident of India, NRI, or any other person living in the non-member country of The Hague Convention.
This announcement from the court has made it easier for Indian consular officers or diplomats to notarize documents like the declaration of single status, marriage, or any other purpose. If they do, the notarized documents, such as single status affidavits or oaths, would become legalized, as per the High Court.
Such documents would have the same validity as the lawful competent authority does, said Justice VG Varun in a judgment on July 5, 2022. Advocate Shyam Padman claimed that Section 3 of the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Act, 1948, allows administering oaths and affidavits.
Earlier, only member countries of The Hague Convention were authorized to legalize bachelorhood certificates, marriage documents, education-based degrees, etc.
What is Apostille Convention?
Apostille Convention is an international treaty that The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) drafted to abolish the convention of October 5, 1961. It was intended to remove roadblocks in legalizing any document issued in one contracting state and can be attested in all other member states.
It is an international certification that is an alternative to the notarization of the document. Once attested, the papers don’t need further certification or attestation. Now, people can apply for apostilling docs online. This facility was introduced in 2006 around the world.
Why Are Apostille Services Required for Single Status Affidavits?
Being a method of legalization, the Apostille certifies the authenticity of the document, the signature of the consul or signing authority, and the capacity under which he certified the document.
However, he does not verify the content of the official document. The apostille service is strictly meant for official documents associated with immigration only.
Preparatory Steps before Apostille Documents:
- Identify if your official document is actually official as per the laws of the country where it was issued before.
- Find out if there is any facility to apply through email or mail. Else, visiting the consular office physically is the only alternative.
- Find out how many copies of a document you should have for this attestation.
- Determine the checklist of all supporting documents that you need to provide for verification. In case of a single status affidavit, you should have your nationality card, passport, date of birth proof, address proof, absolute decree if you are a divorcee, and death certificate of your ex-husband or wife if you are a widower.
- Find out the fee structure of apostille services and the mode of payment. It may vary. If you consider India, it charges INR 50 per apostille for each affidavit.
- Determine how many days it will take to obtain the affidavit or certificate.
What’s the Procedure of Apostille in India?
First, you should know that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the authority to certify original documents that are concerned with the foreign visit.
One thing must be remembered an applicant cannot directly apply there. You have to request through an authorized agent that helps in NRI documentation for immigration. There are multiple fraudsters that come up with fake promises. So, it’s important to check if they are real or fake. Reviews and the official website of your country’s embassy suggest some names. You may consider them.
This Ministry Serves Two Types of Attestations:
- Normal attestation is required for legalizing documents for going to a country that is not a member of The Hague Convention.
- Apostille applies to those who are likely or are in a country that is an active member of The Hague Convention. Now, it has over 100 members across the world.
Two Ways To Obtain the Apostille Docs:
- E-Sanad is an online service that helps applicants submit/verify documents online. The CBSE certificate or education-based certificate can be easily attested with this option. This service started in 2014 onwards. And since June 5, 2017, applicants cannot directly get apostille services from here. They have to choose the online application option via its website.
- Through Agents: All of your original documents and their photocopies must be legalized by the authorized person. For this, you have to hire an outsourcing agent. He can help you with this attestation procedure.
What about Specific Documents’ Attestation?
a. Attesting Personal Docs:
Suppose you have a requirement for personal documents attestation. In that case, the Department of Internal Affairs/ General Administration of the Government of the State/ Union Territory, like SDM or Sub-Divisional Magistrate, is the right authority.
b. Attesting Education Degrees and Certificates:
The appropriate authority for this work is the State Government/ Union Territory Department of Education.
c. Attesting Commercial Papers:
The corresponding Chambers of Commerce can help you with this authentication.
Important Things to Remember:
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not entertain any direct request for apostilling since July 2012.
- The applicant has to send the original documents directly to the authentic service providers, which are mentioned o the website of the Indian government. Enclosed a photocopy of all documents and a copy of the applicant’s passport.
- However, the final level attestation is conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs, which does not legalize photocopies.
- Upon apostilling, the applicant has to collect all documents directly at any of the four Branch Secretariats of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
These steps and procedures can help you get your bachelorhood certificate legalized. In case you don’t get it apostilled, seek notarization from diplomats. Their notarization can validate your single status proof.
Now, diplomats have a right to notarize a single status declaration/ certificate or any affidavit that requires an apostille stamp or attestation. The Kerala High Court has declared that the non-member state or country of The Hague Convention has to accept that notarized document as it’s legally acceptable.