For a foreign deed to produce its effects in Italy, it must
first be lodged with an Italian notary and legalised. However there
are some exceptions to the legalisation process.
Any deed produced abroad and intended to take effect in Italy
must be examined by an Italian notary who shall verify whether:
the foreign deed is capable of
directly producing its effects in Italy
the foreign deed that does not
produce its effects in Italy can come into line with Italian
the foreign deed is inadequate to
produce any effect whatsoever in Italy.
A foreign deed is defined as any legal deed drawn up abroad by
public officials or private citizens resident in a third state, in
a foreign or Italian language. In order for a foreign deed to
produce its effects in Italy, it should be lodged with an Italian
notary (or notarial archives).
Notarial Regulation no. 1326/1914 and Royal Decree-Law no.
1666/1937 provide that an Italian notary may accept the lodgment of
deeds drawn up and legalised in a foreign country, as well as other
types of documents drawn up abroad (certified private instruments,
public deeds, etc.). However, the purpose of a mere lodgment is
only that of making certain the existence of the document and to
allow the issue of copies, within the territory in which it has
been lodged, to whoever may request them. The effectiveness of a
foreign deed within the Italian territory is subject to several
elements to be necessarily verified by the Italian notary before it
can be lodged.
Foreign deeds must be drawn up or certified by individuals
(notary/public official) vested with the necessary powers abroad,
in order for the deeds to be in the proper form to be made equal to
an Italian deed. The signature certifying the deed (or its writing
and subscription by a notary/public official) may be defined as the
first fundamental requirement for a foreign deed to be lodged in
The validity of a foreign deed within the Italian territory:
legalisation and Apostille
Legalisation (or Apostille) may be defined as the necessary
instruments to certify the origin of a deed; in particular, the two
abovementioned instruments attest that the signature of the foreign
notary/public official indicated in the deed is true and that the
individual issuing it is entitled to do so. This step is
preliminary to the subsequent lodgment by the Italian notary, who
shall be exclusively responsible for verifying that the deed is
legal for the purpose of its effectiveness in Italy.
The legalisation of a foreign deed intended to produce its
effects within the Italian territory is the responsibility of the
Italian diplomatic or consular offices abroad. The legalisation
process comprises two steps:
The officer of the foreign authority
legalises the signature of the individual drawing up or certifying
The Italian diplomatic or consular
authority further legalises the signature of the official of the
foreign authority mentioned previously.
The Hague Convention of 24 January 1965 establishes a more
simplified means to effect legalisation, that being the affixing of
a so-called Apostille.
This is nothing but a text formula affixed on a foreign deed by
the officer of the foreign authority (of the state in which the
deed has been drawn up) whose purpose is to legalise the signature
put by the individual who has drawn up/certified the foreign
The Apostille is affixed at the foot of the deed or annexed to
it, and does not form an integral part of the deed to which it is
affixed. Furthermore, the date of the Apostille does not result in
any deferment of the effective date of the legal effects of the
deed drawn up.Moreover, any legalisation affixed on a deed
originated in a signatory state of the Hague Convention (and
therefore subject to Apostille) is not invalidated in any case by
the Convention as it is considered a more articulated process than
the Apostille and therefore worthy of protection.
The international Conventions and the abolishment of
Certain countries are exempt from legalisation and Apostille, by
virtue of Conventions stipulated with each other. The deeds drawn
up in the adhering states, whether public deeds or certified
private instruments, are not subject to legalisation and may freely
In particular the Conventions in question are:
Convention of 7 June 1969 (ratified
in Italy by Law no. 176 of 12 April 1973). Signatory states: Italy
Convention of 30 June 1975 (ratified
in Italy by Law no. 342 of 2 May 1977) Signatory states: Italy and
Brussels Convention of 25 May 1987
(ratified in Italy by Law no. 106 of 24 April 1990) States and
ratifications: Italy (11 October 1990); Belgium (16 December 1996);
Denmark (26 July 1989); France (12 December 1991); Ireland (8
December 1998); Latvia (31 October 2010).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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