When I send a Certificate* to a client so s/he can prove up service pursuant to the Hague Service Convention, I usually include a link to my earlier post, The Hague Certificate– all the proof you need. Sometimes, when the Certificate is generated by the foreign government on its own blank, rather than the one on the reverse side of my Request form, I’ll also link to The Hague Service Certificate… not necessarily on the form you provide.

Usually, that’s that– it’s a done deal.

At least once a month, though, I’ll get a note back two or three days later, asking how much more it will cost to have the Certificate translated to satisfy court requirements.

Um, huh?

“Yeah, the Clerk said your proof is in German so we have to have it translated. How much will that cost?”

Not a penny. Because it isn’t necessary.

Mercifully, the good folks at the Hague Conference on Private International Law anticipated just such a situation, so they made the Certificate multilingual. The standard is either English-French or French-English, but there are trilingual versions in German (see the mockup above), Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese… the list goes on. In some Swiss cantons, they use a Certificate in four languages: French, English, German, and Italian.

To be sure, the western eye disregards Chinese characters naturally, so English is the very next one up. Likewise the Cyrillic alphabet on Ukrainian and Kazakh forms (forget the Russians— they don’t respond with anything but rejection).

But when the form uses the ordinary western alphabet, it can be a bit tricky, and the English font is almost always smaller than the form’s primary language. But that’s okay… all the necessary language is there, in English. The Clerk just needs to look more closely...

* Note that Certificate is capitalized. That isn’t coincidental. The Certificate is prescribed by Article 6 of the Hague Service Convention and it supersedes all lex fori proof formatting requirements.