Expats' Corner May 6, 2023 | 4:42 pm

The difference between Notarization and Apostille

Foreigners going through a legal process in the Dominican Republic, such as residency or marriage, will have to deal with preparing (or legalizing) documents for submission to the government. Legalizing a document will involve either notarization or an apostille, or both.

Many people lump these two processes together, but notarization and an apostille are not the same.

Notarization is carried out by a licensed notary public authorized by the state government to serve as an impartial, third-party witness to verify the authenticity of a document and the identity of the person signing it. Their job is to confirm and certify that the identity of the person signing the document is who they claim to be and they signed the documents of their own free will.

An apostille is a certification a government authority provides that authenticates a public document to be recognized and used in another country. Your state’s Secretary of State does an apostille if the document is issued at the local or state level. For federal documents, the U.S. State Department would apostille. Once a document is apostilled, it is legally valid in all countries that are parties to the Hauge Apostille Convention, including the Dominican Republic. The documents that may require an apostille include certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce, court documents, school records, immigration forms, and diplomas.

For example, one of the requirements for a foreign national to marry a Dominican citizen is to provide a signed sworn statement of singleness or an Affidavit of Single Status. The Dominican Consulate in your country will provide you with this document. This document must be notarized, as you are the person signing it. After the Affidavit of Single Status is notarized, you need to get the document apostilled.

On the other hand, if you’re divorced or widowed in the process of marrying a DR citizen, you would need to provide a divorce certificate (or decree) or death certificate—both legal documents issued by a government agency or entity. In this case, you only need an apostille for these documents.

Once your documents are notarized, if needed, and apostilled, it is ready for translation.

It is important to note that required documents for any legal process must be apostilled before translating. Translating before an apostille will invalidate the document.

So, the steps to legalizing a document would be in this order:

1.) Notarization (if necessary)

2.) Apostille

3.) Translation


Maria Abreu is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Abreu & Associates, a law firm practicing exclusively in Dominican Republic Immigration and Nationality law. She is also the founder of Retire and Invest DR. This organization hosts conference events for foreigners interested in living, retiring, and investing in the DR. You can contact Maria at: mabreu@abreuimmigration.com.

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