By 2022, over 120 countries 1 are member State of the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents on 5 October 1961 (“Apostille Convention”).
This means that there are at least 120 exemplars of an Apostille Certificate, each with different
characteristics, albeit having the same general format and information as being determined by Annex of Apostille Convention. Each Apostille Certificate to be issued by the member State must have a series of protection and anti-fraud measures to ensure the authenticity of a certificate and have the same general format of information as determined by Apostille Convention.
As Indonesia has recently become a member party of the Apostille Convention, adding yet another exemplar of an Apostille Certificate. Through our discussion with officials of Ministry of Law and Human Rights (“MOLHR”) in Indonesia, we understand that the MOLHR uses certain threshold and criteria to determine on whether an Apostille Certificate issued by other member States are eligible to be used in Indonesia. The threshold and criteria is based on (i) the Apostille Convention (including the Annex); and (ii) the Apostille Handbook on the Practical Operation of Apostille Convention issued by The Hague Conference of Private International Law / Conférence de La Haye dedroit international privé (“HCCH”) (“Handbook”).
This article aims to further discuss the measures to ensure the authenticity of an Apostille
Certificate, specifically in Indonesia by further discussing the mandatory information which are necessary to be found Apostille Certificates.
General Format and Structure of Apostille Certificate
While each State has its own format of Apostille Certificate, HCCH has set out a guideline regarding the mandatory items that should be available in an Apostille Certificate, namely2:
(i) Identification as an Apostille Certificate;
(ii) Short version of the original French title of the Apostille Convention (“Convention de La
Haye du 5 octobre 1961”);
(iii) Box with the 10 standard informational items (which is also referred as Annex of
(1) Name of the State of origin;
(2) Name of the person that signed the underlying public document;
(3) Capacity in which the person signing the underlying public document;
(4) Authority which has affixed the seal/stamp on the underlying public document;
(5) Name of the place where the Apostille is issued;
(6) Date on which the Apostille is Issued;
(7) Title / name of the competent authority;
(8) Number of the Apostille; (9) The seal / stamp of the competent authority; and
(10) Signature of the authorised officer issuing the Apostille.
The Apostille Convention through its Annex also provides a model certificate to be utilized by
member States 3 as below:
The model certificate itself is stipulated to be square with sides at least 9cm long. However, the drafters of the Apostille Convention viewed that the dimension of the Apostille should be flexible due to accommodate certain design features. However, it should be noted that if a dimension of a certificate is significantly different with the model certificate, the competent authority in the State of destination (where the Apostille Certificate will be used) may reject to acknowledge such certificate 4 .
Article 7 of the Apostille Convention stipulates that each competent authority of a State must
maintain a register or card index to record the certificates issued by said competent authority,
specifying (i) the number and date of the certificate and (ii) the name of the person singing the
public documents and the capacity which he has acted, or in the case of unsigned documents, the name of the authority which has affixed the seal or stamp.
To verify a certificate, the competent authority in the State of destination as the recipient may
request to verify to the issuing authority of the certificate. This is where the apostille register plays a role, as the issuing authority will then verify in its register whether there is a matching record of the Apostille details provided by the recipient. Conventionally, the recipient may conduct manual checking my inquiring to the competent authority of the State of origin. This verification process is time-consuming; thus some competent authorities might also provide electronic register which can be accessed by the recipient online, thus the recipient may instantly check a certificate and instantly have a reply from the electronic register, a feature which Indonesia currently has 5 .
The HCCH, through its Handbook, also provides various possible grounds for rejecting Apostille Certificate in the State of destination, among others:
a. Apostilled document expressly excluded from the scope of application of the Apostille
b. Issuing State is not a party to the Apostille Convention;
c. Apostilled document is not a public document of the State of origin;
d. Apostille is not issued by a Competent Authority;
e. Apostille issued for a public document for which the Competent Authority is not competent to issue Apostilles;
f. 10 numbered standard informational items are not included;
g. Apostille detached from document;
h. Forged or altered apostilles. 6
Based on our discussion with Indonesian MOLHR, they also use the above standard in conducting verification over the Apostille, on whether to accept or reject the Apostille to be used in Indonesia as State of destination.
Indonesia: Apostille Certificate
Indonesia has recently become a member of the Apostille Convention. Even though the Apostille Certificate issued by Indonesia has its own shapes and design, it still complies with the minimum requirements of an Apostille Certificate. On the official launching of the Indonesian Apostille Service on 14 June 2022, officials from MOLHR explained that the Indonesian Apostille Certificate has certain protective measures, which includes a QRcode and metallic adhesive to deter fraud. It further explained that the QRcode may be utilized by the competent authority in the State of destination to verify whether the Indonesian Apostille Certificate is genuine as Indonesia has already implemented an electronic register of Apostille Certificates produced. This is a considerably modern feature compared with certificates produced by other countries, especially those which has already been a party to the Apostille Convention.
With over 120 countries being a member of the Apostille Convention, the competent authority, or any other party in the State of destination must have a guideline to determine whether a document is properly Apostilled. The HCCH has provided guidelines to some extent “uniform” the Apostille Certificate so that the competent authorities in the State of destination may determine whether an authentication certificate of a document is in the form an Apostille Certificate or whether it is another form of authentication. Through the guideline in the handbook, the user of the Apostille and the member State (State of destination) can have valid grounds in checking the originality and the verification of such Apostille Certificate issued by the State of origin. Indonesia has implemented an electronic register and provide a QR Code in the certificate, so that the competent authority in the State of destination (outside Indonesia) may check the Apostille Certificate directly without having to wait for manual confirmation from the MOLHR. On the other hand, Indonesia as a State of destination also might be able to check and verify the Apostille Certificate as pursuant to the Apostille Convention and with the guidance of the Handbook.
For Further Information, Please Contact:
MetaLAW, Legal Consultant, Jakarta, Indonesia
2. Hague Conference on Private International Private Law, Apostille Handbook: A Handbook on the Practical Operation of the Apostille Convention, Hauge Conference on Private International Law, The Hauge, 2013, <https://assets.hcch.net/docs/ff5ad106-3573-495b-be94-7d66b7da7721.pdf > .
3. Annex to the Apostille Convention, <https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/specialised-sections/apostille >
4. Hague Conference on Private International Private Law, Apostille Handbook: A Handbook on the Practical Operation of the Apostille Convention, Hauge Conference on Private International Law, The Hauge, 2013, < https://assets.hcch.net/docs/ff5ad106-3573-495b-be94-7d66b7da7721.pdf >.
5. Hague Conference on Private International Private Law, Apostille Handbook: A Handbook on the Practical Operation of the Apostille Convention, Hauge Conference on Private International Law, The Hauge, 2013, < https://assets.hcch.net/docs/ff5ad106-3573-495b-be94-7d66b7da7721.pdf >.
6. Hague Conference on Private International Private Law, Apostille Handbook: A Handbook on the Practical Operation of the Apostille Convention, Hauge Conference on Private International Law, The Hauge, 2013, < https://assets.hcch.net/docs/ff5ad106-3573-495b-be94-7d66b7da7721.pdf >.