In order to have legal validity in Spain, a public document issued abroad must be legalized. The same is true with respect to public documents issued in Spain, they shall be authenticated in order to be valid abroad.
Legalization/Authentication is the administrative act through which validity is granted to a document, verifying its signature and the quality under which the signing authority has acted. States enter into agreements to facilitate the legalization of documents. The most important one is, with no doubt, the Agreement signed on October 5th, 1961 in The Hague; it has simplified this procedure with the stamping of a seal or apostille that is currently used in 115 countries.
For public documents issued by a member state of the European Union, the procedure has been considerably simplified since the entry into force in February 2019 of Regulation 2016/1191.
In general, any original public documents, and the certified copies of the same issued by Public Administrations can be legalized, as well as any certificates or acts issued by a Notary Public through the exhibition of documents. Other notarial, judicial and mercantile documents, academic degrees and religious, medical or veterinary certificates can also be authenticated, following specific procedures for each type of document.
The legalization of documents is practiced at the Legalization Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid or, abroad, at the embassies or consulates of Spain. Always bearing in mind that, in most cases, such documents must be translated by a sworn translator or interpreter.
Finally, authentication proves the identity and authority of the signer the same as the public nature of the document issued abroad, but it does not imply anything about its content or effects what shall be determined in an administrative procedure in our country.
Procedures for the legalization and validation of documents are complex in some cases. Our Firm, LARRAURI & MARTÍ ABOGADOS, can help you with respect to any steps to be carried out internationally and the validation of foreign documents to be used in Spain. Please, do not hesitate to contact us.
Alejandro de Vicente de Rojas. Lawyer
Larrauri & Marti Abogados