Legalization refers to the process by which an official document issued in the territory of one country is given validity within the territory of another for purposes of representation in official bodies.

There are 2 types of legalization: 

  • Consular legalization. For countries with which the Russian Federation holds no agreements on legal assistance and which are not member states of the Hague Convention of 1961.

This procedure is carried out in 2 stages:
  1. Certification of the documents by competent authorities of foreign affairs (e.g., Ministry of Foreign Affairs) of the country of issue (depending on the legislative requirements of the country of issue, this is done with the original, but in some countries, copies of the document may be used) by affixing the appropriate stamps and seals indicating the position and signature of the certifying person;
  2. Certification of the documents by consular services of the Russian Federation (consulate or embassy of the Russian Federation) in the country of issue by affixing the appropriate stamps and seals indicating  the position and the signature of the certifying person.

  • Apostilization (obtaining an apostille stamp). For member states of the Hague Convention of 1961, which abolished the requirement of consular legalization of foreign official documents.

Apostilization is a simplified legalization procedure whereby
  1. An apostille is affixed either directly to the original document (or notarized copy of the document) or to a separate sheet, which is attached to the document (or notarized copy) and written in the official language of the issuing government body. The apostille can only be issued by authorized bodies of the document’s country of issue (e.g., Register of Vital Records, County Clerk, Secretary of State, Department of Education, Ministry of Education, educational institutions and others).

Please check the full list of countries in order to identify the type of legalization you need: Countries and Type of Legalization (PDF, 400 Kb) 

Please note:
The apostille is not a separate document. It exists only in conjunction with the certified document. Each issued apostille has its own registration number. The Hague convention prohibits any textual amendments of the apostille or changes to the sequencing of the lines in the stamp. Making an apostille by photocopying a stamp is also prohibited.