Let’s say you’re buying or selling a property in Los Cabos, and you can’t be in Mexico for the closing. Not a problem! This happens frequently, as we rarely have an exact day the closing will occur. We’re used to dealing with it, but for our clients it might be the first time they’ve even heard of a document known as an Apostille.
In circumstances like this the client will give a very limited power of attorney to someone here in Cabo (most likely their agent or an employee of the closing company) to sign on their behalf in the purchase/sale. They will sign the power of attorney in front of a notary public, who will affix their seal. That would be sufficient to make the document legal for use in the U.S., but in order for it to be recognized in Mexico you’ll need to take things one step farther: you will need to affix an Apostille.
The Apostille is a cover document provided by the Secretary of State of the state in which the power of attorney was signed. The document was created by the Hague Convention of 1961 and allows member countries to recognize each other’s official documents. The Apostille says that the office issuing it recognizes this as a document that would be used in their jurisdiction. Because the U.S. and Mexico are both signatories to the Hague Convention the officials who preside over your closing process will recognize your power of attorney without the need to have it certified by the court system here. Of course, if you will be in Los Cabos you can sign the power of attorney here in front of a Notario Publico and no Apostille will be required.
Here are some tips for getting an Apostille nearly painlessly:
- To find out where and how to get an Apostille in your home state search the web for Secretary of THE State of xxxx. For some reason adding the word ‘the’ will bring the actual government website to the top of the search queue.
- Most states have expedited service if you actually walk the document to be Apostilled into an office, check to see if there is a branch near you. Mail applications can sometimes take weeks!
- The process for getting your Apostille is generally simple, and the official website will have simple to understand instructions. There is no need to pay a third party to obtain it for you.
- Be sure you’re getting an Apostille. Many states offer certifications, these are not the same and are not valid for our Notarios.
- Once you get your Apostille do not remove the staples to make a copy. Removing the Apostille from the document to which it’s attached voids it! Make copies before the Apostille is affixed or bend the page back.
- Notice I was U.S.-centric in writing about Apostilles. Canada is no longer a signatory to the Hague Convention, Canadian citizens who wish a document recognized in Mexico must have it certified at the nearest Mexican Consulate.
- Although powers of attorney are the most common use for Apostilles in real estate here in Los Cabos the procedure is the same for any other official document. They are often required for birth certificates, death certificates, school records, wills and many others.
Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of REALTY EXECUTIVES Los Cabos. You can read more of her articles on www.reloscabos.com.
© 2009 Carol S. Billups