Legalization of documents in Ukraine

 1. In which case must the document be legalized?

A document is subject to legalization when a document issued in one country (for example, in Ukraine) must be submitted to the appropriate authorities of another country (for example, in Canada or England).

In other words, in order for a document to have legal effect in a country different from the country of its issue, the document must be legalized.

The only exception is those countries, between which there are international contractual relations on the abolition of the legalization of documents issued on the territory of the contracting countries. These are the countries that have signed the CIS Convention, namely: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia. Also, an exception is the countries that have concluded a bilateral agreement with Ukraine on legal assistance in civil matters: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Serbia.

2. What is the legalization process?

Depending on the country where the document is to be presented, legalization can be divided into two types:

- Apostille (simplified document legalization procedure).

Apostille is put onto the document, which will be used in the country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention. The signing of the Convention provides for an agreement between the participating countries to the abolition of the requirements of consular legalization of foreign official documents for use in their territories.

- Consular legalization (full procedure of documents legalization).

If the country is not included in the list of countries-participants of the Hague Convention, the document issued in this country requires its consular legalization in the embassy of the country where it is planned to present this document.

3. What is an apostille?

An apostille is an official special stamp on a document called "Apostille" (in some countries it looks like a separate sheet of paper attached to the document) and is affixed by the competent authority of the state in which the document is drawn up. Apostille, now, certifies the authenticity of signatures of officials, the validity of stamps and seals, which holds the document and confirms the strength of the document in the territory of the Member States of the Hague Convention.

4. What is consular legalization?

Consular legalization is a procedure of certification of an official document, the purpose of which is to confirm the validity of the document for use in another country (i.e., different from the country of issue), in case the country is not a member state of the Hague Convention.

The difference between consular legalization and apostille is in the procedure of legalization itself. If the apostille implies the affix of a single stamp with the name of the Apostille, the consular legalization is the affix of several stamps on the document, which is placed in a mandatory sequence in the country of issuance of the document and the final step is the certification of the document by the consul of the country for which the document is being prepared.

 5. Is it necessary to translate the document and at what stage?

The document must always be translated if the official language of the country where the document is issued differs from the language of the country where the document will be used.

In the case of legalization of the document by apostille, we recommend making translation in the country, for which the apostille is put down. It will help to avoid additional actions on legalization of the translation itself, and also will allow translating the document more correctly, because translators would be native speakers of the language and know better the requirements for translation in their country.

If the document is undergoing full legalization (consular legalization), it is subject to mandatory preliminary translation. This is due to the fact that the consul of the relevant country cannot certify the document, which does not have a translation, because the document without translation may not be understood by him.

6. How does the translation of a foreign document in Ukraine work?

A foreign document, which must be officially presented to certain state bodies of Ukraine, must be legalized and translated into the state language (Ukrainian).

Official translation in Ukraine can be performed only by a translator who has a state diploma confirming his qualification as a translator from a certain language. To confirm the authenticity of the translation and the competence of the translator who made the translation of the document, such translation with the signature of the translator, must be certified by a notary. The notary independently checks the qualification of the translator and the authenticity of his or her diploma and enters the translators into his or her database. Therefore, the official translation of the document can be done by the translator who is in the notary's database with whom he cooperates.

7. What to do if a power of attorney for my representative in Ukraine is required?

A power of attorney allows representing your interests on the territory of Ukraine only if it is duly executed (legalized and certified by a notary) and the text of the power of attorney complies with the requirements and norms of Ukrainian law.

To obtain a power of attorney outside of Ukraine, we recommend adhering to the  following sequence of actions *:

  • Order the drawing up the text (draft) of the power of attorney from the lawyers, which will meet your needs and purposes of using such a power of attorney. Sometimes it is advisable to get the text of the power of attorney from a specific notary if the power of attorney is intended for the implementation of certain notarial actions at the same notary (for example, the purchase of an apartment).
  • To certify Received from Ukrainian lawyers draft power of attorney by a notary, in the country of your stay.
  • Order an apostille on the power of attorney (in many countries, information about this service will be provided by the notary himself, who certifies the power of attorney).
  • Transmit the original power of attorney to an authorized person in Ukraine. In Ukraine, a trustee may represent the interests of the client only in case of presentation of the original power of attorney duly executed.
  • Translate into Ukrainian the power of attorney and apostille by the translator, whose authority is certified by a notary. This final action may be performed by an authorized person in Ukraine, after receiving the original power of attorney.

Note: The best option of development of the draft power of attorney is a bilingual power of attorney, i.e. made simultaneously in Ukrainian and the language of the country of the principal's residence, thus avoiding problems with the correspondence of the translation. If a foreign notary refuses to certify a bilingual power of attorney, which is worth asking in advance, it is considered that then it will be expedient to translate the draft power of attorney into the official language of the country where the principal is located, in Ukraine.

* The mentioned list of actions is suitable only if both countries are members of the Hague Convention.

8. What must be legalized: the original or a copy?

You can legalize either the original or a notarized copy of the original document. By certifying the copy of the document, the notary confirms its compliance with the original. A legalized original and a notarized copy will in most cases have the same legal effect. Thus, it is possible to avoid loss of the original document due to its transfer to strangers or non-return from certain government (non-government) structures. But, it is always worth asking whether a copy, not the original, will be accepted at the place of assignment of the document.

9. Drawing up a power of attorney at the Consulate of Ukraine as an alternative to legalization.

Diplomatic and consular offices of Ukraine can carry out notarial actions provided by the legislation of Ukraine, in the countries of their location. That is, the notary certification of the power of attorney can be made in the consulate of Ukraine at the place of residence of the person.

It is important to note that the consular department with such powers is located in most countries, but it is necessary to clarify in advance the powers of the consular department in the country of residence of the principal if this way of registration of the power of attorney is chosen.

Drawing up a power of attorney in the consulate of Ukraine can significantly reduce the time and cost of the power of attorney. This is especially true when drawing up a power of attorney in countries that are not included in the list of countries-participants of the Hague Convention, and the simplified legalization (apostille) is not valid there.

The Consul accepts the draft power of attorney drawn up in the Ukrainian language. Therefore, the preliminarily drafted text of the power of attorney by lawyers in Ukraine will meet the requirements and needs for further use of this power of attorney. The power of attorney drafted in Ukrainian and certified by the consul of Ukraine does not require further translation and legalization, which is a good alternative to the procedure of registration of the power of attorney with its subsequent full legalization.

10. If the document is issued in Ukraine, but it must be presented outside Ukraine.

First of all, it is necessary to know in which country the document issued in Ukraine is to be used. If this country is included in the list of countries-participants of the Hague Convention, it is enough to put an apostille on the document. If the country is not included in this list, the document requires full legalization. It should be noted that not all official documents can be legalized. Documents that have similarity to correspondence, copies of passports or employment history, military card, as well as documents issued by foreign diplomatic institutions of Ukraine, administrative documents directly related to commercial or customs operations are not subject to legalization.


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