The legalization of Italian documents applies to a wide category of certificates. The process can easily change based on the type of document, jurisdiction body and international agreements in force.
Do Italian documents need to be apostilled?
Before using an Italian document abroad, it is first necessary to verify its authenticity. These are the acts and documents from Italian Authorities that need legalization in order to be valid abroad:
- Registry Offices Certificates, such as:
- Legal and Judicial Acts.
- Education documents such as degrees or school certificates.
- Documents for the movement of vehicles, such as Driving licenses.
- Criminal Records Certificates.
Different types of legalization of Italian documents
Different types of legalization may be necessary, depending on the need and on the target destination country of the Italian document.
These types of legalization are:
- Sworn Translation;
- Apostille (have a look at our guide on the Apostille);
- Legalization, according to any special agreement between Italy and the destination country.
A sworn translation is a process that certifies the correspondence between an original document and a translated text. It is a common process to make Italian documents valid abroad.
For a successful sworn translation, the translator has to be registered as an expert witness with the court of jurisdiction, or registered with the Association of Surveyors and Experts of the relevant Chamber of Industry and Crafts (Associazione Periti ed Esperti della Camera di Commercio dell’Industria e dell’Artigianato competente).
Finally, the signatures of sworn translators must be legalized by the competent Italian consular authority by separate order, if the document will be used in a foreign country.
How to get an Apostille in Italy?
The apostille is a stamp that replaces the legalization process. It is an annotation, with a specific stamp, put on the original document. The apostille applies exclusively to those countries that ratified the Convention on the Abolition of the Legalization of Foreign Public Documents (The Hague Convention of October 5, 1961).
Each country part of the Agreement has a dedicated Authority that issues the apostille: citizens must go there to apply for the apostille.
To find out which authority in your country is responsible for affixing the apostille, go to the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It is an inter-governmental organization based in The Hague that was founded in 1893. Later, it has evolved into a hub of international judicial and administrative cooperation in the field of private international law.
How do I legalize documents in Italy?
A legalization is required after translating documents for foreign countries. Legalizing a document entails validating the signature. The Prefecture (Prefettura) is generally responsible for legalization of Italian documents.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the district in which the notary or the judicial office to which the official or clerk belongs has jurisdiction over the acts of notaries, judicial officials, and court clerks.
Applicants who need to legalize Italian documents have 2 options:
- Send the document to legalize by mail to the Prefecture, along with an empty envelope with a stamp and the sender’s address (in order to send back the document);
- Make an appointment and visit the Prefecture in person to apply for the legalization.
When do I need to legalize documents in Italy?
These are the cases when you can apply to legalize documents in Italy:
- Italian citizens or foreigners who have to validate a foreign document in Italy,
- Italian citizens or foreigners who need to make an Italian document valid abroad,
- People who need to validate an Italian document released by a foreign consulate or embassy but on the Italian territory.
Learn more about how to legalize your foreign documents for Italy in our dedicated guide.
The Jurisdiction bodies: Where can I legalize documents in Italy?
In Italy, the legalization of documents is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Depending on the office that issued the document, the Ministry delegated the legalization process to the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Courts and the Prefectures.
Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Courts
It is responsible for legalizing acts already signed by Notaries, Chancellor’s office Functionaries and Sheriff-Officers.
It is responsible for legalizing documents signed by other Italian Authorities, such as Registry office Functionaries.
- Consular: after the legalizaton of Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Courts or Prefectures, documents have to be submitted to the Embassy/Consulate of the destination country to receive the final legalization
- Apostille: it is released by the competent jurisdiction body in Italy
- Other Legalization: due to special agreement between Italy and the destination country. It is necessary to verify what the agreement requires for a document to be valid in the destination country (i.e. multilingual certificate)
If you want to legalise or get apostille for your documents, take a look at our legalization and apostille services.