Apostille and Notarization: Understanding the Difference


An apostille serves as validation for the signatures and seals present in a legal document, confirming their legality and international acceptance. On the other hand, notarization involves witnessing and certifying the genuineness of a document’s signatures.

In Pakistan, the authority to confirm a document’s legitimacy for an apostille is granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). In summary, a notary verifies the legal validity of document signatures, while an apostille ensures the document’s international validity.

While both apostille and notarization guarantee a document’s legal validity, they are distinct processes. The primary difference lies in their scope of acceptance. Notarization ensures a document’s legal binding within Pakistan, following governmental guidelines where the document is signed. Conversely, an apostille guarantees that a document, signed and notarized in Pakistan, is valid and accepted in any country participating in the Hague Convention of 1961.

Apostille Service for Documents

An apostille is a specialized certification that authenticates public documents intended for use in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention of 1961. It is issued by an authorized body in the country where the document originates and is recognized by all member countries of the convention.

An apostille is essentially a certificate affixed to the original document by the relevant authority in the issuing country. This certificate attests to the signature’s authenticity, the identity of the signatory, and the legitimacy of any seals or stamps affixed to the document.

In Pakistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is responsible for this process. The apostille procedure in Pakistan is expected to begin in the coming months once all necessary requirements and steps are completed. Until then, the regular legalization process through MOFA will continue.

However, as a contracting state of the Convention, Pakistan’s authorities will now accept Foreign Apostille Certificates issued by Convention member states without requiring further attestation from MOFA or Pakistani Embassies abroad.

Notarization Service for Documents

Notarization is the process of having a document verified and authenticated by a licensed Notary Public. The Notary Public witnesses and certifies the signatures on the document, providing legal assurance and preventing fraud. Notary Publics are legal professionals authorized by the government to witness and verify document signatures.

The process involves the Notary Public verifying the signer’s identity and ensuring the document’s authenticity. The Notary Public also confirms that the signer is doing so voluntarily and without any pressure. Once satisfied, the Notary Public adds their official seal and signature, certifying the document’s authenticity and the identity of the signer.

Notarization is typically required for documents used for legal or official purposes, such as affidavits, power of attorneys, and contracts. It’s important to note that notarization is a separate procedure from legalization, as it solely certifies the document’s authenticity and the identity of the signer. Legalization is an additional step required for international document use.

How AAQ LLP Can Assist ?

Although the purpose of apostille and notary services may seem similar, apostilles uphold an internationally recognized standard for document verification. While the procedures for obtaining an apostille differ from notarization, AAQ LLP can help streamline the process by ensuring your documents are complete, valid, and ready for international use.

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