What is an Apostille and Why do you Need it in a Real Estate Transaction in Cozumel, Mexico?
A potential obstacle when doing business in a foreign country is that each country has its own method for creating and certifying documents. When you have documents that are legal in your country, how can the governing body in another place verify those documents? In many countries, it is through apostilles. Here is a closer look at what an apostille is and why you might need one during a real estate transaction in Cozumel.
What is an apostille, exactly?
An apostille is an internationally-recognized certificate which verifies and authenticates a document.
The four types of documents that can be certified with an apostille are:
- Notarial acts
- Court documents
- Administrative documents
- Official certificates placed on documents
Here is an example of an apostille from the state of Alabama in the U.S.
All apostilles must contain the word ‘Apostille” followed by the French words “Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961” and the 9 points shown above.
Do you need an apostille in a real estate transaction in Cozumel?
If you a foreigner entering into a real estate transaction in Cozumel and your home country is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, you may need an apostille to verify your documents. This allows the Mexican authorities to certify that your documents are legitimate.
Fact: Currently, there are 116 member countries including Mexico and the United States. Note, Canada has not joined. See if your country is a member country here.
The backstory on apostilles
Before the Apostille Treaty two certifications were required to certify documents:
One from the authorities on foreign affairs in a person’s home country.
One from the consulate or relevant government office of the receiving state.
As you can imagine, that approach can result in some confusion with over 190 countries in the world. Plus, the double certification takes more time.
To streamline this process, a treaty was drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law on October 5th of 1961. It outlines how documents can be certified for legal purposes through apostilles in all of the member countries. As a result, when your country and the receiving country are members, only one certification is necessary.
How do you get a document apostilled?
In order to get a document apostilled, you need to find out which authorities are ‘designated competent authorities’ in your country. Often, it is an officer of an embassy, court, ministry, or local government. The recognized officer must issue or certify your document first. Assuming they can do so, they will issue the apostille. This service often requires you to pay a fee and fill out a form.
Are you from the U.S.? Find a designated competent authority near you.
In Cozumel, each real estate transaction is unique as we work with clients from many different countries. We will help you to get the proper documents and if one of them needs an apostille, we will walk you through the process with a licensed professional who can perform the translations to Spanish.
Interested in buying or selling real estate in Cozumel?
If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate in Cozumel, I am here to help you every step of the way.
With 12 years of experience on the island, I can answer any questions you have from those about apostilles to those about tax implications and beyond.
Together with my team, we will ensure your transaction is as smooth and beneficial as possible.
Happy to help!