Certification of public documents by apostille is now also available in digital form
Estonia has already won international recognition for her innovative way of thinking and increasing use of modern digital technologies. The amount of online services with public access is growing every year. From the end of 2017 the possibility to certify public documents by digital apostille or e-apostille has joined the list of services open to the public in the digital environment.
The importance of apostilles is known to all who need to use in one country a public document issued by another country. The apostille is a certificate proving the authenticity and legality of the original document used in the member countries of The Hague Apostille Convention in order to simplify international recognition of public documents. Since 1 January 2010, apostilles are issued in Estonia by notaries. From 1 December 2017 it is possible to apply for certification of paper and digital official documents issued in Estonia. Both forms of document can be certified by a paper apostille or a digital apostille depending on the requirements of the applicant and the recipient. In the case of a paper apostille, the certificate will be printed out, signed and stamped by a notary, while in the case of a digital apostille the notary will put a digital signature on the certificate and forward it to the client through the register or by e-mail.
The Estonian Chamber of Notaries has launched a self-service portal with the public register of apostilles allowing individuals to apply for and check the validity of apostilles. All apostilles – paper-based as well as e-apostilles – issued in Estonia from 01.12.2017 will be put on record in the register of apostilles. Individuals who need to view their own apostilles or to apply for a new apostille should log in using a national identification card, an e-resident card or a mobile ID. To check the authenticity of an apostille and to access a certified document, the date of issue and the registration number of the apostille are necessary.
As the service is new and only a few countries have started to use digital apostilles, be aware to check acceptance of digital certificates in the country of destination.