Using Foreign Documents in Mexico

Find out which documents you may need when moving to Mexico and how to ensure they are accepted...

Depending on personal circumstances, people moving to Mexico should anticipate needing certain public documents from their home countries:

  • Birth/death certificates
  • Marriage/divorce certificates
  • Credentials – degrees, diplomas, transcripts
  • Court documents related to custody arrangements

In order for documents issued in other countries to be accepted for legal purposes in Mexico, they will most often need to be certified. There are two main ways that this can occur – by obtaining an apostille or through a process called legalization.

Apostilled vs Legalized Documents

The Apostille Treaty is part of the Hague Convention and is an international agreement whereby signatories agree to accept each other’s documents as valid as long as they are signed and stamped by the appropriate authority, almost always in the original issuing country.

Countries – including Mexico – that have signed all articles of the Apostille Convention automatically accept that an apostilled document issued by another member state can be used for legal purposes, and do not independently verify the document.

Documents from states that have not signed the Convention – such as Canada – must still be authenticated by the issuing state, but this authentication is not automatically recognized by the Mexican government. Documents from these countries must also be legalized by the Mexican Embassy or Consulate in the issuing country.

Considerations

In many cases, the apostille or authentication process requires that the documents to be certified have first been notarized within the issuing country. It may be possible to have this done at the Embassy of the issuing country in Mexico, but this should be confirmed in advance.

It is also sometimes the case that new documents must first be obtained, such as when the document format has changed. After documents issued by non-signatories to the Convention have been authenticated, they must then be taken to a Mexican Embassy in order to be legalized.

Thus, while both the apostille and authentication/legalization process can be done from Mexico, the process can become very costly and complicated. Anyone planning to move to Mexico should begin the process while still in their home country, and should consider bringing multiple legalized or apostilled copies of important documents.

Translation

It is sometimes the case that documents will need to be translated into Spanish in order to be accepted by Mexican officials. It is best to confirm this on a case-by-case basis. See the Business Directory for a list of Government-certified translators in Mexico City. Most English-speaking embassies also hold lists of certified translators.

More information

Information about obtaining an apostille or authenticating/legalizing documents should be obtained from the government of the issuing country, and should be sought well in advance of a planned move.