What is an apostille?
The Apostille Convention, or the Apostille Treaty, is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the procedure through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. A certification under the terms of the convention is called an apostille. It is an international certification comparable to a notarization in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarization of the document. If the convention applies between two countries, an apostille is sufficient to certify a document’s validity, and removes the need for double certification, by the originating country and then by the receiving country.
The State of Israel is part of this treaty and therefore requires apostille authentication on documents as part of the Aliyah process. This requirement replaces the need to notarize foreign (non-Israeli) documents in Israel.
Apostilles are issued by the state that issued the document and usually cannot be acquired outside of that state. It is typically an additional page attached to the original document to authenticate the signature of the clerk which appears on the original document.
Canada is not part of the apostille treaty. Authentication of Canadian documents is completed by affixing a consular approval to the original document. This is done by Israeli consular services in the Israeli embassy or consulates. (see more details below).
Which documents require an apostille or authentication?
Since January 1st, 2019 authentication is required by the State of Israel on all official documents as part of the Aliyah process.
The following documents need authentication regardless of their issue date:
- Birth Certificates (for all applicants)
- Personal Status documentation – Marriage, Divorce or Death certificates
- Name Change documents
- Adoption papers
- Criminal background checks
- Split Aliyah declarations (first needs to be notarized)
Where and how do I get the apostille or authentication?
In the United States, apostilles are issued by the state department of each state separately. (example: If your document is from California, the apostille will be issued by the California State Department in Sacramento). Federal documents are authenticated by the US State Department in Washington DC. For a list of Authentication offices in the US see here.
In Canada, some documents will need to be authenticated by the local Canadian government prior to acquiring the Israeli consular approval. We recommend checking with the Israeli Consulate or the Canadian Jewish agency representative if the Canadian Government authentication is needed on your documents.
For information about getting your Canadian document authenticated by the Canadian government, click here.
For information about getting your authenticated Canadian document recognized by the Israeli embassy, click here.
For details and information about authenticating British documents, click here.
Cost and processing time
The cost and processing times vary greatly from one office to another. Please check directly with the relevant authentication office for this information. It is recommended to begin the authentication process as soon as possible, so it does not delay your Aliyah plans.
Resources and important notes
- For detailed information regarding background check apostilles please see here.
- For applicants with NY City birth certificates – All birth certificates issued in the Five Boroughs (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) after August 2018, will need to have a letter of exemplification attached for county authentication. Certificates issued before that date can, in most cases, be submitted for authentication without the need for the exemplification letter.
- If your certificate needs a letter of exemplification, we recommend you purchase a new certificate, already containing the letter of exemplification, from the NY Bureau of Vital Statistics, located at 125 Worth St. To order a new birth certificate, click here.
- Once that is done, certificates with the letter of exemplification need to be authenticated by the NY County Clerk, located at 60 Center St.
- Now that these two steps have been completed, the Apostille can be acquired at the NY Secretary of State’s office at 123 William Street or by following the instructions listed here.
- The aforementioned steps (1-3) are only for certificates with a letter of exemplification.
- Important note: The apostille services listed below might be able to obtain your NY birth certificate apostille without the extra step of a letter of exemplification. Please be in touch with them directly for more information.
- You will be required to show your authenticated documents when you meet with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration in the airport upon making Aliyah or at your meeting with the Ministry of Interior if you are making Aliyah from within Israel.
Are there any services to make this easier or quicker?
There are many companies in the USA which offer apostille services. For a fee they will acquire the apostille for you. Although such services may be costly, they are convenient when the last thing you need on your mind throughout the Aliyah process is the hassle of authenticating your documents.
Following are some companies** Nefesh B’Nefesh Olim have experience with. These companies offer a discount to Nefesh B’Nefesh Olim, make sure to mention this when you inquire about pricing.
– EZ-TR International Notary & Apostille Services
**Please note that while Nefesh B’Nefesh is happy to facilitate making connections between Olim and companies providing these services, Nefesh B’Nefesh does not specifically endorse or recommend any company providing these services, nor can Nefesh B’Nefesh be responsible for your engagement of any company. Any such engagement is between you and the company and is your responsibility.
*Last updated on July 20, 2022*