How to verify Czech documents and signatures abroad?

The world is globalising, and you often can’t avoid official communications abroad. However, managing formalities between two countries can quickly turn into a nightmare, whether due to complicated red tape or the language barrier. We’ll teach you how to handle the bureaucracy with ease.

Rules differ from country to country

There are many situations that you can’t get past without verifying documents between two countries. You’ll need official certification when incorporating a company, signing a power of attorney, or for marriage.

The verification process depends on the country you’re in. That’s because the rules for official procedures adhere to international agreements that determine a country’s legal status.

Documents can be verified in 3 ways:

  • at an embassy,
  • with an Apostille,
  • superlegalisation.

1. Verifying at an embassy

First, check the list of cooperating countries to see if your country concluded a legal assistance treaty with the Czech Republic. If so, all you typically need to verify documents abroad is to arrange a meeting at the Czech embassy in your country, where they will verify the authenticity of the items/signatures. Legally speaking, verifying at an embassy holds the same value as if you were to have the documents physically verified in the Czech Republic.

For EU member states, you can verify documents at your local notary. Some public documents (e.g., criminal records, register documents) issued by an EU member state don’t usually require special verification – Czech authorities automatically accept them. Simply submit a standardised, multilingual form with the document.

Note: A legal assistance treaty only applies to some documents (you’ll find them listed in the actual treaty). Be sure that your document type meets the minimum requirements.

If your country does not have a legal assistance treaty with the Czech Republic, you’ll need to have your document apostilled or superlegalised (see below).

2. Apostille

An Apostille is a verification clause proving the authenticity of a public document for use abroad. An Apostille is a simplified form of verification, which replaces the more complicated superlegalisation. You can use it in official communication with countries that signed the international Apostille Convention (list of included countries).

An Apostille is always arranged by the authorities of the country in which the public document was issued.

In the Czech Republic, Apostilles are issued by:
  • A notary (for Czech public documents issued/verified by a notary),
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice (for Czech public documents issued/verified by a court or an executor, criminal records, and register documents).

An Apostille clause is then issued abroad by institutes listed on the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

Before it can be used, it’s sometimes necessary to have the apostilled document officially translated into the language of the country where it will be used.

Warning! Notaries and ministry offices usually only verify documents in their original language. Have the document translated after it’s been verified. .

3. Superlegalisation

For countries that haven’t signed the Apostille Convention, it’s necessary to adhere to the so-called “superlegalisation”. This is a dual verification process that is more expensive and time-consuming than an Apostille.

The specific process of superlegalisation may differ by country. Typically, the document must first be verified by a notary from the issuing country, then by an administrative body from the issuing country, and finally by an official representative of the country in which you’d like to use the document. Also, embassies typically require an official translation of the text before approving the validity of the document.

What is this process like in practice?

A Chinese citizen is planning to marry in the Czech Republic. To do so, they need to submit their birth certificate to the Czech registry office. China hasn’t signed the Apostille Convention, meaning the document must be superlegalised in the Czech Republic before it’s used.

Thus, the client first needs to have the document verified by a Chinese notary. Then, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will verify the document, before sending it to the Czech embassy in Peking. Once checked at the embassy, the document is considered superlegalised. But before the Czech registry office can accept it, the document must be officially translated into Czech.

Even foreigners can do business in the Czech Republic

Thinking of incorporating a company in the Czech Republic? Talk to our experts – we’d be happy to help you in English.

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