International bidding, international legal procedure, filing brand, patent and INPI certification,… to preserve all their legal value abroad.

What is the legalization of documents?

Legalisation is a formality whose objective is to enable french documents (official or private deeds) of retain their legal and official value abroad, depending on the country concerned.

Thus, documents relating to a patent application issued in France can be legalized, for example, to preserve any their legal value to the administration concerned and the whole authorities in the target country.

In the same way, an act from a foreign country must be legalized in its country of origin to be recognized by the authorities in France.
The legalisation may be necessary, particularly in the context of appeals offers, trademark registration, commercial litigation, at the time of creation of a subsidiary or for an expatriation.

What are the formalities for legalization?

To carry out legalization procedures, you have at your disposal several appeals according to the diplomatic rules in force in the target countries.

Classic approach:
The document is first of all legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris (Bureau des legalizations) and then by the Consulate of the country concerned.

Simplified approach: the Apostille

Faster than the traditional procedure, the apostille is a simplified legalisation established by the Hague Convention.

This formality can only be carried out by a Court of Appeal in France. In practical, the legalisation must be carried out by the service of the Apostilles of the Court of Appeal of which the notary (as a signatory of the act or documents concerned).

Consult the list of States Parties to the Hague Convention

Exemption from legalisation

Bilateral agreements between some countries allow the exemption of legalization while maintaining the official value of the documents by question. Thus, a French act remains valid as it stands in Italy, in the Senegal, or Vietnam for example.
Consult the official list of bilateral agreements exempting from legalisation.

Legalization needs differ from one country to another. The international agreements between foreign countries and France are not all identical, and the procedures may have particular features depending on the nature of the exchanges.

For more information, you can consult this summary sheet of conventional law in the field of of legalization, as well as the different data according to the countries and documents transmitted.


Documents to be legalized

All public documents (civil status deeds, judgments, etc.) and drawn up under private signature (deed of ownership, INPI certificate…) can do the subject of a request for legalisation in order to preserve their character official abroad.
These documents include:

  • civil status records ;
  • judicial records (e. g. judgments) ;
  • administrative records (certificates of nationality and extracts from criminal records) ;
  • commercial or industrial records (must be previously approved by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI)): iNPI certificates, powers, Kbis, patents, commercial contracts,
    etc. ;
  • documents drawn up or certified by consular or diplomatic agents ;
  • the certification of private deeds with official mention: certificates on honour, acknowledgement of debts, contracts, invoices, letters of recommendation, certificates of hosting, powers affidavits, documents and handwritten statements recorded or filed in courts of law ;
  • notarial deeds and any documents prepared by an auxiliary of justice and public officer, such as a notary, lawyer, bailiff, etc.
  • Medical certificates (must be approved in advance by the National Council of the Medical Association), etc.

Added value of sworn translation

Your commercial contract has just been legalized.
He is perfectly recognized by the authorities in Taiwan. Problem: on the spot, no one is there doesn’t understand a thing!

For your commercial operations in it is strongly recommended to proceed with a translation sworn statement of your French document. And sometimes it’s the Ministry foreign Affairs which requires it to facilitate understanding and the use of the said document abroad.

The approach then consists in have your document translated by an expert translator, sworn by the Court of Appeal. As a judicial expert, he is the only one the ability to translate an official document and to translate it certify authenticity.
On this document translated into French should appear:

  • the stamp of the sworn translator ;
  • the signature of the sworn translator ;
  • a translation number.

The second step is to have this translated document legalized in order to preserve its legal value abroad.
You now have a French document and its version translated, both legalized for the country’s foreign authorities concerned.

Legalization, whether in its classic form or apostille, remains subject to diplomatic exchanges between countries.
He should therefore be well informed about the procedures and formalities to be followed at to be completed, in order to be able to send a document that meets the expectations of the country of destination.

Apostille, legalisation or exemption, ask your legal translation agency for advice.

In addition, some rare legal translation agencies offer their clients a legalization service. Saves time and money and the assurance that they will not get lost in the requests of the international administrations !

The BILIS Traduction team will be able to advise you. We are working on for many years with the teams of the Ministry of Business Foreigners, Courts of Appeal throughout France, consulates and chambers of commerce.