MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
CONSULAR RELATIONS DIRECTORATE
Legalizations and Certifications Sector
The Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents was signed in Hague on 5 October 1961 and has had effect for Bulgaria since 30 April 2001.
In connection with the applying of the Convention, please have in mind the following explanatory notes:
1.The Convention provides a unified method for formalizing a certain category of documents /public acts/ intended to be used abroad – by applying a special certificate /apostille/ on the document itself or on an attachment to it. In its content and nature the certification with “apostille” represents legalization of the document by the competent authority of the country where it was issued. The specific thing about it is that the documents with an applied original apostille are freed from all kinds of additional certifications and legalizations /from other superior local authorities in the issuing country as well as from the diplomatic or consular missions of the Country party to the Convention on whose territory this documents should be presented/.
The text of the Hague Convention you can find HERE
List of the parties to the Hague Convention you can find HERE
2.More detailed information on the authorities, issuing Apostille in Bulgaria as well as of the other states is available at http://www.hcch.net
3.The documents issued in these states and with an applied “apostille” shall not be legalized by the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular mission in the respective state or the ones accredited for it. They shall be recognized by the Bulgarian authorities whenever there is an original apostille applied on them or on an attachment to them. In case the documents do not have or cannot be supplied with an “apostille”, in order to be recognized on the territory of Bulgaria, they should be certified/legalized/ in accordance with the commonly agreed current procedure – they should be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country issuing the document, afterwards they should be legalized by the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular mission in this state or the ones accredited for it.
4.Bulgarian authorities which are competent to issue apostilles:
The Bulgarian authorities, which are competent to issue apostilles to Bulgarian public documents, are the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Justice certifies with an apostille acts emanating from courts and notaries
. Under Article 1, letter “a” of the Convention, acts of the court are the documents issued by an authority or an official connected with the courts or tribunals of the State. The same should be submitted in original form or as a certified transcript and should contain the following attributes: date of issuance, first name and surname, signature of a chairperson or a judge and a secretary and seal of the court which has issued it.
The acts of the notaries under Article 1, letter “c” and “d” of the Convention are the notarial acts; the official certifications such as records in the register or authentications of a date or signature on a private document.
Authorizations concerning disposing of real estates which are attested by mayors and secretaries of municipalities are not subject to certification by Apostille.
From 01 June 2013 activities regarding certificate APOSTILLE on educational and supporting documents issued by universities, institutions in the educational system and by the Ministry of Education and Science and its units is carried out by the Ministry of Education and Science. The Ministry of Education and Science certifies with an apostille educational documents - diplomas for secondary and higher education, education certificates, certificates of acquired qualification and competence, etc.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs certifies with an apostille any other public acts:
- Civil status and address registration documents issued by municipalities; - Different attestations, certificates, licenses, etc. issued by different ministries, state agencies and institutions; - Documents emanating from the National Social Security Institute, the National Statistical Institute, etc.
5. The Hague Convention does not apply, therefore an apostile certificate cannot be issued, to:
1. Administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs operations; 2. Documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents. Such documents emanating from Bulgaria can be certified for use abroad (legalized) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in accordance with the existing requirements – to be certified with an original so-called “rectangular seal for abroad” by the issuing or the respective superior authority.
6.In order to be certified with an “apostille” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bulgarian documents should be formalized in accordance with the current requirements– to have an original certification with the so-called “rectangular seal for abroad” by the issuing or the respective superior authority as well as an applied round seal and a signature of the official authorized to carry out this certification.
7.It is not obligatory that the Bulgarian documents should be supplied with a translation into a foreign language in order to be certified /legalized/ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Anyone interested can request only a certification with “an apostille” to be applied on the Bulgarian document duly drawn up. Additional explanations regarding the translations can be found in item 11.
8.The Bulgarian documents with an applied “apostille” are freed and do not need any additional legalization by the diplomatic or consular mission of the Country party to the Convention in which the document should be presented. It is necessary to bear in mind that documents with an applied “apostille” are accepted and can trigger action in each one of the Countries parties to the Convention. In a number of countries it is possible that the local authorities might accept a copy of a document with an applied “apostille” in case that this document has been certified by a competent local authority or a notary in accordance with the local laws. This means that there is a possibility that a number of documents which do not have expiry dates might be used several times in different countries parties to the Convention. This possibility sets the question for the relevance of the supply of the document with a translation into a given foreign language. In cases when the holder of a Bulgarian document with an applied apostille intends to or needs to present this document personally in front of the authorities of different countries parties to the Convention, he/she can make the translations in each country according to the local requirements.
9.Another important circumstance is that the provisions of the Convention do not change the regime for exempting the documents from legalization defined in the bilateral contracts for legal aid signed by Bulgaria.For states with which the Republic of Bulgaria has bilateral legal aid agreements with provisions for exempting the documents from legalization with apostille, documents issued by the foreign state must bear the stamp of the respective authorized institution as per the bilateral agreement. The thus issued document is recognized by the Bulgarian institutions and it only needs its Bulgarian translation which shall be certified.
In the same time there are no obstacles for the documents to be supplied with an “apostille” despite the exemptions regime under the respective legal aid agreement. A certification with an apostille is to be recommended especially for documents certified by a local notary public /power of attorneys, declarations, certificates/ because through the applied “apostille” the Bulgarian authorities will obtain the respective guarantees for the competence of the foreign notary public who has certified the document. The same consideration holds for certain types of documents intended for abroad which are certified by a Bulgarian notary public or by another authority.
10. In case the documents have no or cannot have any apostille, in order to trigger actions on the territory of Bulgaria, they need to be certified (legalized) in line with the generally accepted practice:
- The document is required to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the state that issues it;
- The stamp of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the foreign state shall be certified/ legalized by the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular mission in that state.
In case there is no Bulgarian embassy/consulate in the issuing state the stamp of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the issuing state shall be certified/ legalized by the embassy of that state in a third state’s capital which is accredited for Bulgaria. Then the signature and the certifications of the consular service with that embassy shall be certified by the consular service of the Bulgarian embassy in that state.
11.In order for the signature of the translator to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the translations of Bulgarian or foreign documents should be done only by Bulgarian translation agencies which have concluded a contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is possible that in certain countries the translations done by Bulgarian translators are not recognized, regardless of the fact that the signature of the translator has been certified by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is necessary that preliminary information is requested from the consular mission of the country or of the local authority where this document is to be presented as to whether the translation done and certified in Bulgaria will be recognized. In some countries these translations are recognized after the respective diplomatic mission accredited for our country certifies the certification of the signature of the translator done by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
12. Until a new normative act defining the requirements and the procedure for certifying /legalizing/ documents from and for abroad is accepted, the provisions of the Rules for Legalizations, Certifications and Translations of Documents and Other Papers apply /prom. SG. No. 73 dated 12th September 1958, last amended, SG No. 103 dated 25th December 1990/.