Pakistan is taking steps to become a member of the Apostille Convention. In this respect and at the request of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the instrument of accession to the Apostille Convention, drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), has been approved by President Arif Alvi, Head of Prime Minister's Strategic Reforms, Salman Sufi, told Dawn.com on Thursday. Now all that is needed is a formal approval from Hague for the process to kick in.

Sufi says changes to the attestation process are likely to take effect in about six months time and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is officiating notaries across Pakistan for enabling authentication, legalisation and attestation of documents with respect to this mechanism.

Once Pakistan formally becomes a member of the Apostille Convention, public documents originating from the country that are attested in line with the requirements of this treaty will be accepted in the 122 countries that are its current members.

Same would be the case for public documents originating in these 122 countries. If duly attested as per the Apostille Convention guidelines by the country of origin, these documents will be accepted in Pakistan without any further authentication requirements.

The existing process of attestation and legalisation of public documents is confusing, time-consuming, cumbersome and costly for most people and becoming a formal member of the Apostille Convention will facilitate millions of overseas Pakistanis.

The Convention of 5 October 1961, “Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents” (HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention) facilitates the use of public documents abroad.

The purpose of the Convention is to abolish the traditional requirement of legalisation, replacing the often lengthy and costly legalisation process with the issuance of a single Apostille certificate by a Competent Authority in the place where the document originated.

The electronic Apostille Programme (e-APP) was launched in 2006 to support the electronic issuance and verification of Apostilles around the world. The Convention has over 120 contracting parties, and has become one of the most widely applied multilateral treaties in the area of legal cooperation, with several million Apostilles issued each year.

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