For certain legal procedures, usually related to immigration, residency applications, investment, or marriage (or a combination of these) it may be necessary to present Mexican authorities (or Mexican consulates abroad) with foreign legal documents as part of application procedure.
Foreign birth certificates and foreign marriage certificates are the most common, but there are others. This article describes what the notarization and apostille procedures are and what circumstances commonly call for them.
Certification of foreign-issued documents for use in Mexico, or to submit to Mexican consulates
Before the Mexican authorities will receive foreign-issued legal documents for processing, it’s necessary to get these Apostilled.
In practice, when you need to submit legal documents in Mexico which were not issued in Mexico —such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates, diplomas, certificates of company incorporation, etc.— you need to go to a “competent authority” in the country where the document was issued, and get any copies Apostilled.
Each country has its own procedures for doing this and you should search online for more information, e.g. “apostille of documents in [country] or [state]”.
The Apostille Convention, as it’s known, is an international treaty which many (but not all) countries are signatory to. The convention sets out a procedure through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory countries.
Mexico signed up to the treaty in 1995, making it far simpler for foreigners to present their legal documents here. The US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, India, South Africa, and Japan are among major countries also signed-up to the treaty.
If your country is not a signatory, alternative certification procedures may exist, and you should contact your consulate for advice.
Canada is not signatory to the convention
If you have Canadian documents to certify, note that Canada is not signatory to the convention, and thus the procedures do not apply there. Canada has instead a document authentication procedure for legal documents.
If you are applying for residency in Mexico, Canadian documents that need to be apostilled for use in Mexico (or a third country) will need to be authenticated by the Canadian government and then sent to a Mexican consulate in Canada to be legalized for use in Mexico.
The difference between Apostille and Notarization
An Apostille is a specific type of legal certification (as per the International Convention) given by a government department with the authority to certify documents issued in that country for legal purposes abroad. You need to contact the government department responsible for apostilles in the country where the documents were issued to get documents apostilled. Online services exist in some countries that will do this for a fee.
A Notarization is a seal given by a Notary Public to certify the authenticity of the document(s) they have reviewed. The seal is the equivalent of swearing verbally under Oath in a court of law that the facts contained in the document are true.
Notarizing documents for Apostille
Official documents issued by governments (e.g. birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates) can be directly apostilled (or in Canada, authenticated) by the government of the country in which they were issued.
Any other documents, e.g. bank statements, investment statements, need to be Notarized first and then sent to be apostilled.
See the blue box above to learn the difference between apostille and notarization.
Apostille for legal documents issued in Mexico
If you have official documents. e.g. Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificates, that emanated in Mexico and need to get them apostilled for official use outside of Mexico, you can find information about notarizing Mexican documents here.
You might also want to contact a Notary Public in the state where the documents were issued for further advice.
Mexican marriage certificates
Another point to note: If you get married in Mexico and live abroad (or plan to live abroad) it’s a good idea to get your Mexican marriage certificate Apostilled in Mexico in case you need this for official use outside of Mexico; it needs to be done in the Mexican state you were married in. The local Registrar’s office or your wedding planner will be able to advise you about how to do this.
Avoid getting your legal documents turned away
If you show up at the application center —most commonly an Immigration office or Registrar’s office in Mexico, or a Mexican consulate abroad— without certain types of documents having been apostilled where this is required, they will turn your application away and ask you to return with certified documents.
Applying for legal residency in Mexico
If you apply for legal residency in Mexico from your home country, the Mexican consulate will not normally ask for your home country issued documents, e.g. marriage certificates, bank statements, etc., to be notarized or apostilled (in Canada, ‘authenticated’) to accept them.
However, if your documents were not issued in your home country (e.g. you got married abroad) or you are applying for Mexican legal residency from a third country instead of your home country, the Mexican consulate will ask for key documents to be apostilled.
Mexico Immigration Assistance Service
If you would like assistance with your legal residency application, whether you are applying for the first time, renewing an existing permit, or need help with troubleshooting, consider using our Mexico Immigration Assistance service.
As part of the service, our associates provide a personalized check list of documents you will need to prepare for your application and will also advise which ones, if any, need to be apostilled before they will be accepted. Learn more about the service.
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