Apostille

The Apostille cannot be obtained from a U.S. Embassy.

The Apostille is a validation stamp ensuring that a certain document is recognized in certain foreign countries (countries that signed the Hague Convention treaty).

Basically, a document is only valid in the country in which it was issued. Validation for recognition in another country used to be a very complicated and time-consuming matter and involved, in hierarchical order, several authorities of the issuing country, and, as a final step, validation by the Consulate of the country, in which the document was to be recognized.

In order to facilitate recognition of a document abroad, an international treaty regarding mutual recognition of documents was signed by many countries, including the U.S. and Austria.

This treaty is called the Hague Convention.

According to that treaty a document originating in one Convention country is recognized in all other Convention countries if it bears the so-called Apostille stamp, which is a validation performed by the superior office in the country and state (province) where it was issued. In the United States the Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State of the individual U.S. states provides the Apostille (Designated Competent Authority(ies)).

In cases where one or both countries are not part to the Hague convention, the old validation procedure involving the Consulates is still used.

Please note that in cases where both countries have signed the Hague convention, the Apostille procedure has to be followed. The convention expressly rules out the old validation procedure performed by the Consulates.