JAMAICA | Foreign Affairs Ministry Begins Issuing Apostilles for Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica July 6, 2021 - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has begun issuing authentication certificates under a new simplified verification process, for local public documents intended for use overseas.
The certificate, called an apostille, will now be the only requirement for proof of legalisation of public documents. It is issued by an authority designated by the State in which a public document originates.
The issuing of apostilles has been facilitated under the Authentication (Foreign Public Documents) Act which was passed in both Houses of Parliament last year and enters into operation on July 5.
The Act provides the legislative framework for the accession and implementation of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (Apostille Convention) which entered into force for Jamaica on Saturday (July 3).
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, in a statement in the Senate on Friday (July 2), noted that apostilles will be used to authenticate documents for use in all of the 120 countries that are party to the Convention.
“The regular authentication process will continue for those countries not a party to the Convention. Documents intended for use in participating countries that were legalised or authenticated prior to the entry into force of the Convention for Jamaica, will, of course, remain valid and can continue to be used in those countries,” she noted.
Senator Johnson Smith, who is also Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, noted that generally, a public document that is intended for use in a foreign country requires verification by a public authority in the country of origin of the document.
“This requirement comes from the fact that the recipient in the foreign country will not be able to verify the official capacity of the person signing it or the authenticity of the signature and the seal or stamp that it bears. This need for verification gives rise to the process of legalisation, which is ordinarily facilitated through foreign affairs ministries, high commissions, embassies and consulates,” she said.
Previously, for documents issued in Jamaica, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade would be responsible for carrying out the process of authentication, after which the diplomatic mission of the receiving country accredited to Jamaica would legalise the document.
“Costs are involved on both sides and in some instances, several intermediary steps are required, which vary across different national systems. This has not been good for individuals and it has not been good for business, because sometimes the process is not only time-consuming, cumbersome and quite frustrating, but it’s often confusing and uncertain as well, given the many differences. The situation becomes even more stressful when the documents are intended for use in multiple jurisdictions,” Senator Johnson Smith pointed out.
She said that the Apostille Convention was established to simplify this process and replace the traditional requirement of authentication and legalisation with a single formality – the issuance of the apostille.
She noted that ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the overseas missions have been advised, sensitisation sessions are under way, and information is being published in the daily newspapers.
“This [information] will include the website where the list of participating countries can be identified, and the e-mail address from which the application form can be obtained,” she said.
It will also be available at the reception desk at the Ministry, now located at 2 Port Royal Street, downtown Kingston. Participating countries can be found at https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/statustable/?cid=41.
Meanwhile, Senator Johnson Smith said that certifying entities will continue to play an integral role in notorising documents.
“After that notorisation, instead of the authentication and legalisation by Foreign Affairs and by the counterpart mission overseas, the Ministry would now simply affix an apostille to that notarised document, which would be recognised overseas. So for the avoidance of doubt, Notaries Public will continue to perform their traditional notarial acts and Justices of the Peace will also continue to provide their respective services,” she explained.
The fees for an apostille is $3,500 per document for a five-day processing service. Senator Johnson Smith noted that while this is an increase in the fee paid to the Ministry, this new process will remove the additional costs that have been associated with the authentication and legalisation of documents by foreign embassies and consulates.
“The implementation of this service will, therefore, be a major improvement and will result in significant savings and convenience to clients,” she said.
Persons wishing to apply in Jamaica, can visit the reception desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, where they will be directed to pay the requisite fee. After payment, they return to the reception desk to submit the completed application form, the receipt, Tax Registration Number (TRN) and the document(s) to be apostilled.
If abroad, persons can submit the completed application form, proof of payment and the documents to be apostilled to the nearest Jamaican High Commission, Embassy or Consulate, or may send them directly, via courier, to the Consular Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, 2 Port Royal Street Kingston, Jamaica.
For return of the document, persons are asked to provide a prepaid, self-addressed courier label and envelope. The form may also be obtained physically at a Jamaican Embassy or Consulate or downloaded from their respective websites.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade continues to work assiduously to improve its processes and its service to the people of Jamaica as we continue to be the official inter-governmental link between Jamaica and the world. The new Apostille process is yet another major achievement to be celebrated by Jamaicans as this government seeks to make Jamaica the place to live, work and do business,” Senator Johnson Smith said.