Since many questions often arise about translation, legalization and apostille, we are publishing this article to help you draw conclusions and understand all the intricacies of translating documents.
Quite often, our citizens face the issue of legalizing and obtaining apostille on documents issued abroad, in order to use them on the territory of Bulgaria in various government agencies and institutions. Requiring an apostille, they cite the Hague Convention of 1961.
In accordance with the Hague Convention, the official documents meant for use outside the country in which they were issued, must be stamped with a special stamp – apostille. Then they are recognized in other countries-participants of the Hague Convention.
Apostille authenticates the signature, the position of the person signing the document, and, where applicable, the authenticity of the seal or stamp on the document (Article 5 of the Convention). An apostille has the shape of a square with a side of no less than 9 cm.
Currently, 87 countries participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. These include the following countries which entered the Convention agreement: Australia, Austria, Albania, Argentina, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Hungary, Venezuela, Germany, Greece, Israel, Ireland (Rep. of ), Iceland, Spain, Italy, China ( only for special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau), Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, United States, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, South Africa, Japan.
However, the Convention does not prevent the use of other international agreements that establish a simpler way of recognizing the foreign documents:
Apostille is not required if the laws, regulations or practices that are in force in the country where the document is issued or an agreement between two or more contracting countries abolish or simplify this procedure or exempt the document from legalization (Part 2 of Art. 3 of the Convention).
Countries that have close economic and cultural relations often completely exempt the foreign documents from the preliminary identification procedures. In such cases, the foreign documents get fully assimilated to the internal documents, provided that they do not require enforcement in another country. This exemption of documents is possible on the basis of bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Based on the above, an apostille is not required, for example, if the Russian Federation and the country where the Russian official document is presented are in a bilateral agreement.
You can find list of countries abolish or simplify this procedure or exempt the document from legalization on the website of the “Ministry for Foreign Affairs” of Bulgaria, in the category of “certification and legalization” there is the link to the List of countries with which Bulgaria has signed bilateral agreements on legal assistance.
Legally, this means that the notary acts and other official documents sent to Bulgaria from these countries (and vice versa), do not require legalization.
This means that in order to use on the territory of Bulgaria a document issued in the Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Algeria, France, Poland, Romania, Uzbekistan and other countries (see list), it is sufficient to translate it into Bulgarian language and notarized the translation at any notary in Bulgaria.
So why then, all the state agencies of Bulgaria required legalized according to their rules translation of the document? On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, a document is published that makes everything clear, – “General explanations for processing documents for and from abroad,” (Unfortunatelly we have only Bulgarian version of this document) in paragraph 9 of this document it is stated that the processing of foreign documents with apostille / legalization is preferred since in this case, “the Bulgarian authorities receive additional guarantee of eligibility of the foreign notary or document.”
As a result, these explanations are interpreted by the government agencies the way they ought to be interpreted – with a guarantee for them. Whether it is good or bad, is not for us to judge. In practice, this brings additional troubles and expense.
Foreign documents, for example in Russian, should be translated and legalized before they can be used in Bulgaria. This requirement is clear for all types of documents. Document can be translated and legalized with an apostille, as well as on the territory of Bulgaria (including the consulates) using a “legalized” translator – that is, one that entered into contract with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria for conducting translation services.
Document legalization is an action performed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice of Bulgaria.
“Legalized” documents, can be verified using the sticker number glued to the document. Internet address for verification of documents – http://apostille.mfa.bg