Just when you thought you had your paperwork ready, you might be shocked to discover that you not only had to get your documents notarized but also that they needed to be apostilled. To make matters worse, your papers may get rejected, costing you a lot of time and money.
The process of authenticating or certifying documents can be complicated if you are not familiar with the Turkish legal system's requirements. However, thanks to the Hague Convention abolishing the requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, or the Apostille Convention as it is more commonly known, 120 countries now only need to get a document apostilled, having to resort to double-certification. Turkey joined the convention in 1985.
So, in short, if you have a document issued by local authorities in your home country and want to use it in turkey, you will have to get it apostilled to be validated, and vice versa.
What Are Apostilles?
Apostilles are international certificates in the form of a stamp or printed paper that attest to the authenticity of a document issued by a public institution.
According to the Hague Convention, the apostille must contain:
- The name of the country in which the document was issued
- The name of the person who signed the document
- The title of the person who signed the document
- The name of the authority to whom the seal printed on the paper belongs, the place where it is certified; The date it was authorized;
- The authority that issued the apostille; The apostille number;
- The seal or stamp of the authority that issued the apostille and
- The signature of the authority that issued the apostille.
An apostille stamp or certificate does not have a specific validity period. However, if the document with the apostille stamp has a validity period, the apostille becomes invalid when the form expires. Yet, apostilles for certificates of identity register (Nüfus kayıt örneğI) Have a 6-month validity.
Which Documents Need to Be Apostilled?
Here is a list of the most common documents requested to be apostilled:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Death certificates
- Affidavit of Eligibility
- Divorce decree
- Power of attorney
- Passport copy
- Driver's license copy
- Articles of Incorporation
- Company documents
- Criminal records
In Turkey, governorships (valilik) and district governorates (kaymakamlık) can issue and certify apostilles. The Office of the Ministry of Justice, Heavy Penal Courts, and the Justice Commission can also validate apostilles for judicial documents.
How to Get a Document Apostilled?
Before taking your document to get apostilled, it must be translated into Turkish by a sworn translator (yeminli tercüman) first and notarized by a Turkish notary public.
After getting it notarized, you will have to pay a visit to the district or provincial governor's office to receive an apostille certificate or stamp. The governorate and the notary must be within the same district/jurisdiction area.
For countries that are party to the Apostille Convention, no further approval or authentication is required at embassies or consulates after this procedure.
Can I Get My Document Apostilled From My Consulate?
Consulates and embassies are not permitted to authenticate official Turkish documents; however, if your country is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, you will have to get your Consulate to validate your documents.
Moreover, if a document cannot be apostilled, you will first be asked to get it verified by your Consulate or embassy. After that, you will have to get it translated and notarized.
Civil Registration Documents
If you are not yet in Turkey and are still in your home country, it is best to obtain marriage and birth certificates there or call your local embassy or Consulate to make sure they offer these services.
If these documents have not been issued with an apostille by your home institution, the Turkish consulate in your home country or your consulate in Turkey must certify these documents. Accompanied by their notarized translation, these must then be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
When requesting birth certificates for your children, it is best to order them certified from your home country with your parental information included. Likewise, it is best to have them already approved when requesting your marriage certificate.
During the issuing of a child custody order or a change, you will need all documents processed, hence the need to be apostilled.
If there is shared custody, you will need to get a declaration of parental consent from the other parent, which must be translated and notarized before getting apostilled.
When obtaining a Turkish license or getting your license converted, your high school or university diploma will not need to be apostilled. Getting them translated and notarized will suffice.
Real Estate Documents
When buying or selling your property in Turkey, if you have chosen to authorize a solicitor to act on your behalf during the title deed transfer process, a power of attorney must be apostilled if you're sending from your home country.
If you want your children's names to appear on the tapu (aka the title-deed) and they are under 18, their birth certificates will also need to be translated, apostilled, and notarized.
Rental contracts do not require to be apostilled or notarized. However, if you're applying for a residence permit, the Immigration Office requires a signed and notarized rental agreement at a notary public. This means you will have to get the document translated by a sworn translator as well.
When asked to provide a copy of your passport, you will need to get it translated and then notarized.
Turkey also introduced an e-apostille system in 2019 for various documents. Currently, only criminal records and court decisions can receive apostilles through this platform. Still, works are underway to add company formation documents, certificates of birth, marriage, and death, as well as diplomas and transcripts.
If Your Country is not a Party to the Apostille Convention
You have two options:
- Before arriving in Turkey, you can contact a Turkish consulate in your country. The Turkish consulate can translate and approve your documents.
- After arriving in Turkey, you should visit the consulate of your country and get your certificates stamped. Then you should visit the District Governor (Kaymakamlık) to have your stamped documents approved. Finally, you must get them translated to Turkish and notarized.
List of Parties to the Apostille Convention
Please click here to see the Apostille Convention Countries (Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents)
Finding a Noterliği (Notary) in Turkey
To locate a Noterliği (Turkish Notary) in your area, simply type "Noterliği near me" or "Noterlikleri in Turkey" into a map-based search engine. If the connection works as intended, click Google Maps will open and begin a search immediately.
You can also search for a local Notary by using the "Noterlikleri" directory on the website of the Turkish Chamber of Notaries. Additionally, you can ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues, or check the local directory or government website. It's important to choose a reputable and licensed Noterliği to ensure that your legal documents are properly notarized.