Often, one of the most common complaints we hear is from individuals or companies that need to legalise documents in order for them to be recognised in Chile. Rightfully so, it is time consuming, annoying and requires multiple steps at government offices. The worst part is that documents that need to be legalised are common when a foreign shareholder owns a Chilean company – from a power of attorney (POA) to simple documents stating educational credentials.

The good news is...

On 16 December 2015, Chile deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Convention, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (the "Apostille Convention"). Following the usual procedural steps, the Convention will finally enter into force on 30 August 2016, making it the 112th Contracting State to the Convention.

Why is this important?

The current legalisation process consists of a series of lengthy and costly proceedings. This included legalising documents before the Chilean Consulates, which sometimes were not easy to visit or were available in only certain cities.

Essentially, the following was the process:

  1. The legal document must be signed in the presence of a Public Notary. If the document is more than one page long the Public Notary must sign and put his/her seal on every single page.
  2. The signature of the Public Notary must then be authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from which ever country you were sending the documents from.
  3. The document must then be forwarded to the Chilean Consulate General in order to legalise the signature of the officer from DFAT (the previous step), which is charged on a per signature basis.
  4. Once the document arrives in Chile, the document then needed to be stamped before the Ministry of foreign affairs and registration (protocolización) before the notary public

The New Process for the Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents:

The documents issued in the home country will only need to be certified with an Apostille to be recognised in Chile. This will reduce the steps needed to demonstrate the documents authenticity down to one single procedure.

Furthermore, once the document is received in Chile, no other formality must be met, contrary to the current legalisation procedure, which required stamping the documents before the Ministry of foreign affairs and registration (protocolización) before the notary public.

Finally, the documents issued in Chile and certified with an Apostille may be recognized in any other Apostille Convention member country, without the need for any further certification.

These new changes will help streamline the process for many natural citizens and companies that send documents from a member country to Chile and vice versa. Notaries may not like it but it sure makes things a little more simple for those doing business in Chile.

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.