Indonesia is one of the countries that requires a legalization process for foreign documents (that is, documents signed in countries outside Indonesia) before such documents can be admitted or used, either for business purposes, in court proceedings, or for administrative filings with the government, in Indonesia.

On January 4, 2021, Indonesia ratified the Convention to Abolish the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents (the “Convention”) through Presidential Regulation No. 2 of 2021.

This ratification is intended to simplify the legalization process for foreign documents, which is known to be time-consuming. Currently, there are several steps that a party must follow in order to legalize a foreign document, including authentication by the relevant institutions or ministries in the country of origin or destination, as applicable. With ratification of the Convention, a party is required only to obtain an apostille certificate from the authorized apostille certificate issuing authority in the country of origin.

Type of Documents

The Convention applies to “public documents,” which are as follows:

  1. documents emanating from an authority or official connected with the courts or tribunals of the foreign country, including documents emanating from a public prosecutor, court clerk, or process-server ("huissier de justice");
  2. administrative documents;
  3. notarial acts; and
  4. official certificates appended to documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as an official certificate that records the registration of a document or the fact that it was in existence on a certain date, and the official and notarial authentication of the signatures it contains.[1]

One of the most commonly used documents in business, court proceedings, and licensing applications is a power of attorney. One question now is whether a power of attorney signed by a party outside Indonesia can be exempted from the legalization process requirements.

Legal experts and practitioners have shared different views on this question. Some experts argue that a power of attorney is a private document, and therefore does not fall within any of the above “public documents” categories. Another view is that “when the signature in a private document is authenticated by a notary official, then the notarial authentication in that private document is considered to be an official certificate that constitutes a ‘public document.’[2]

Note that the following documents are not exempted from the legalization process requirements:

  1. documents executed by diplomatic or consular agents; and
  2. administrative documents dealing directly with commercial or customs activities.

Conclusion

It is too early to determine how ratification of the Convention will be applied in practice because the treatment of a given foreign document will depend on many factors, such as how the document is categorized and treated in the country of origin, as well as the acceptance and admissibility of the foreign document by the respective institution / court where such document will be used.

In addition, further steps must be taken for the Convention to apply between Indonesia and other contracting states of the Convention, including issuance of implementing regulation to determine the apostille certification authority and issuance of other regulations to replace the existing regulations governing the legalization process. Until those steps are taken, the legalization process is still required for foreign documents.

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[1] Article 1 of the Convention.

[2] Indonesia’s Ratification of Apostille Convention Should Boost Ease of Doing Business - IPBA In-House Briefing - Powered by Lexology

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. Readers of this article should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.