The author of this post is Priskila P. Penasthika, Ph.D. Researcher, Erasmus School of Law, and Lecturer in Private International Law at Universitas Indonesia.
For almost ten years I have been closely observing the discussions taking place between Indonesia and The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) on the matter of Indonesia becoming a contracting state to the 1961 Hague Apostille Convention. This endeavor has finally materialized at the beginning of 2021 when Indonesia decided to accede to The Hague Apostille Convention. The instrument of accession – Presidential Regulation Number 2 of 2021 – was signed by President Joko Widodo on 4 January 2021, and issued on 5 January 2021.
Entrance into Application of the Hague Apostille Convention
Although the Presidential Regulation required at national level to seal the accession has been signed and published, this good news will not lead to an immediate application of the Hague Apostille Convention in Indonesia. It will take some more months before this Convention enters into force for Indonesia. The latest update informs that the instrument of accession is at the moment being recorded in the Indonesian state gazette to comply with the enactment and publication requirement of a presidential regulation according to the Indonesian law. After the completion of this process, according to Articles 12 and 15 of the Convention, the instrument of accession needs to be deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Subsequently, there will be six months period for the other contracting states to the Convention to raise any objection to the Indonesian accession to the Convention. The 1961 Hague Apostille Convention will enter into force between Indonesia and the contracting states which have raised no objection to its accession on the sixtieth day after the expiry of the six months period. Even if this last part of the process is expected to run smoothly, it is likely that the interested parties will have to wait until the end of 2021 for the Convention to become applicable for Indonesia.
Present Process of Legalization of Indonesian Documents to Be Used Abroad
The accession to this Convention brings good news for many interested parties because the current legalization process for public documents in Indonesia is a lengthy, complicated, time-consuming, and a costly procedure.
As an illustration and based on my personal experience, there are at least four different institutions in Indonesia involved in the legalization process. We can take the example of an Indonesian birth certificate that would need to be used before a foreign authority. The first step in this process would be the legalization by the Indonesian Civil Registry Office that issues the document. Then, a second legalization is performed by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia. This is to be followed by a subsequent legalization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. Lastly, the birth certificate should also be legalized by the Embassy or the Representative Office in Indonesia of the foreign country in which the birth certificate is to be used. After all these steps, the birth certificate can finally be used in the designated foreign jurisdiction.
Changes the Convention Will Bring in the Process of Legalization of Documents
By the accession of the 1961 Hague Apostille Convention, the above lengthy procedure will be limited to one step and will involve only one institution – the designated Competent Authority in Indonesia. Although, there is not yet an official announcement about which institution will be appointed as the Indonesian Competent Authority, it is very likely that the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia will be entrusted with the task.
Limitations Made to the Application of the Hague Apostille Convention
When it comes to its accession to the Hague Apostille Convention, Indonesia made a reserve declaration to exclude from the definition of public documents (Article 1(a) of the Convention) the documents issued by the Prosecutor Office of Indonesia.
Additional Significance of the Accession to the Hague Apostille Convention
Beyond facilitating and speeding up the process of recognition of documents, the decision to join the 1961 Hague Apostille Convention represents an important step for Indonesia.
The 1961 Hague Apostille Convention is the first HCCH’s convention that Indonesia accedes to. Given the fact that Indonesia is not yet a member to the HCCH, the accession to the Hague Apostille Convention will mark the first official connection Indonesia has with the organization. It is anticipated that this will lead to more accessions to the HCCH’s conventions by Indonesia in the coming future.
The other significance of this accession is related to the Visi Indonesia 2045 (Vision of Indonesia 2045). The Government of Indonesia has launched this Vision to commemorate the centenary of the Indonesian independence which will take place in 2045. This Vision aims to portray Indonesia as a strong sovereign, developed, fair, and prosperous country. To achieve this, one of the targets is to simplify procedures in order to boost public service, international cooperation and investment. A simplified legalisation procedure for public documents is thus a strategy that would contribute to an easiness of doing business, and eventually for the accomplishment of the Vision of Indonesia 2045’s targets.
A more in-depth analysis (in Indonesian) explaining the current legalization process in Indonesia and the urgency to accede to The Hague Apostille Convention 1961 can be accessed here.