28 January 2021
On 19 January 2021, the Ministry of Law (“MinLaw”) announced that Singapore has acceded to the Apostille Convention. On 18 January 2021 at 11am Central European Time (6pm Singapore time), Singapore deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (“Apostille Convention”), making Singapore a contracting party to the Apostille Convention.
The accession will facilitate the cross-border use of public documents, saving time and costs for users through the use of a simplified one-step process. Examples of public documents include marriage certificates, educational certificates, birth and death certificates, passports and identity cards.
The Apostille Convention will enter into force on 16 September 2021 for Singapore. Singapore will implement the obligations under the Apostille Convention through the Apostille Act 2020, which was passed in Parliament in November 2020.
The Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”) will be designated as Singapore’s Competent Authority under the Apostille Convention. Until the Apostille Convention is in force for Singapore, i.e. until 15 September 2021, users requiring documents to be produced overseas should continue to approach SAL and, thereafter, the relevant embassies to legalise the documents (if required).
The press release states that further details on the implementation of the apostille regime in Singapore will be announced in due course.
Many states require that foreign public documents be “legalised” before the documents are recognised and accepted in those states. The Apostille Convention abolishes the legalisation requirement, which typically involves a multi-stage process - a series of public officials along a “chain” certifies the signature, seal or stamp on a local public document as authentic to a point where the ultimate authentication is readily recognised by the foreign State of destination.
Under the Apostille Convention, each Contracting Party designates a Competent Authority that is responsible for issuing certificates, known as apostilles, which certify the origin of official documents produced by the contracting party. All contracting parties are obliged to accept apostilles as sufficient to verify the origin of the underlying document.