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Legalization of Documents in Ukraine

Some small illustration before we start:

“Citizen of Canada D. claims to obtain permanent residence in Ukraine, so he provides a certain package of documents. One of the documents in the package is so-called certificate of non-conviction in Canada (other names Police criminal record in Canada, Police criminal certificate in Canada). So D. visited appropriate Canadian authorities and received the required document. Police criminal record from Canada lies down upon the table of immigration officer from Ukrainian State Migration Service. So here is the question: how the immigration officer from Ukraine can be sure that the provided certificate is a legitimate one and issued by appropriate Canadian authorities? (remember that Canada is situated basically on another side of the planet across the ocean)”Indeed, you could tell me that in a modern world of telecommunications it’s not a challenge anymore to reach any part of the world and get any necessary information. I wouldn’t like to disappoint you but even in 2019 immigration officer in Ukraine does not speak English or French to communicate with Canadian colleagues. Moreover, if he could do so, there no state financing of international calls for immigration officers in Ukraine. And even if there were any money for that, Ukrainian immigration officer has no clue about the policies regulating the issuance of such document in Canada and speaking frankly it is not the job of the immigration officer to discover such information and communicate with the representative of other country authorities on a different part of the globe.

Still, the document flow between different countries is an inevitable process, and by this moment civilized world worked out two ways how to make it possible the document from one state is accepted in other countries. Further we will speak about Counselor legalization and Apostille which can be both applied in Ukraine.

1) Counselor legalization.

Counselor legalization is the most widespread way how to prepare your document for its further application in a foreign country. This method has a few unique features which make it quite vague and long-term; however, it can be applied in any part of the world. The name of the method “counselor” in fact gives a lead to understand the nature of the method: employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of yours and foreign country are involved in the process.

Shall we return to our dear Mr. D, the citizen of Canada, who`s case will illustrate what counselor legalization in real life is:

“D. visited police station the closest to his place of residence in Canada to order Police criminal record in Canada, what he easily succeeded to do, so now he possesses the appropriate document showing his criminal record in Canada signed by the chief of the station colonel Jonson. Later on D. pays a visit to the nearest Main Police department of the region, where the officer of the mentioned main department Smith confirms colonel`s Jonson signature by adding his signature on the paper (Smith has a list of the names and signature samples of all police stations chiefs in his region including colonel Jonson). Having his record back D. applies to the department of legalization of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada where the employee of the department Wilson confirms Smith`s signature by adding his stamp and signature on the paper (Wilson has a list of all main departments in police system and their officers responsible for confirmation of issued records, including Smith). After that D. visits Ukrainian embassy in Canada, where the employee of the embassy Shevchenko with his own stamp and signature confirms the stamp and the signature of Wilson, as Shevchenko got the list of officers of Ministry of Foreign affairs of Canada responsible for the legalization of documents. That was the last step and from now on D.`s police criminal record from Canada can be used in Ukraine in his immigration to Ukraine case.”

So as you could understand, the process faced by D. is the classic counselor legalization. To tell the truth such police records in Canada are issued by certain commercial private companies who received appropriate license at Royal Canadian Mounted Police and not police stations as we described above, but the most important here is to remember the basic algorithm how to prepare your documents for future application in Ukraine or any other foreign country:

1) Receipt of the document at the appropriate state or municipal authorities of your country (police criminal record) =>

2) Confirmation of the document by superior authority (this stage is not always required) =>

3) Legalization of the document within the system of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country (department of legalization of MFA of your county embassy in Ukraine) =>

4) Legalization of the document within the system of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (Ukrainian embassy in your country or department of legalization of MFA of Ukraine in Kiev).

By following this algorithm, you can always imagine how long it will take “the adventures” of any document before it can be freely used in a foreign county. Still, you can ask why we would choose Canada as a sample here. The matter is that starting from 1961 international community enacted the so-called Hague Apostille Convention which is called upon to simplify global document flow by introducing special universal Apostille stamp. Each year more and more countries join the Convention, but many of them are no so eager to do it. So as you could guess, Canada is not a member of Hague Apostille Convention, so in 98% cases in order to legalize Canadian documents for further application in any foreign country or vice versa, documents of a foreign county to be used in Canada, counselor legalization is to be followed and executed.

2) Apostille.

Stamping a document with a special Apostille stamp according to the Hague Apostille Convention enacted in 1961 permits to avoid much time and financial costs occurred during counselor legalization of documents.

The Convention can be applied only within those countries that have joined it, and by the end of 2018, we got 115 members of the Convention. To get to know whether your country is a member of the Apostille Convention you can follow the next Wikipedia link: Ukraine is the member of Hague Apostille Convention starting from 22 December 2003.

So how can we briefly describe simplified document legalization by using Apostille stamp?

“Member counties are free to define which one of their authorities will be responsible for stamping the documents with Apostille, and most often those are certain departments of Ministry of Justice of a county. After receipt of the initial document (police criminal record obtained at local police station) you should apply it at the appropriate authority in your country responsible for Apostille stamp (to know for sure where to apply, please, ask the place where you received the initial document or at the appropriate department of Ministry of Justice). After stamping the paper with Apostille stamp it can be used in any other country member of the Convention, so there is no need to visit many places on order to make the document acceptable in a foreign county.”

We face it rather often in our practice when a client does not understand the reason why to pay so much attention at legalization of documents for Ukraine or any other country. Moreover, many consider such legalization requirements unjust and outdated, so it becomes our mission to explain that these are the fundamental rules of international documents flow, and there is no way to avoid them. Ukrainian Immigration Bureau is a team of highly qualified experts in documents legalization not only for Ukraine but also for other foreign countries, and this is the place where you can get advice both on basic and most complicated cases of documents legalization.

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