New Zealand has become the fourth country in the world and the first in Asia Pacific to issue officially verified electronic documents for use in other countries.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says: "Whether it's a marriage certificate, a lawyer's letter, an import certificate or a travel document, the new e-Apostille service from Internal Affairs' Authentication Unit could cut submission times considerably by creating secure electronic versions of paper documents which can then be emailed to overseas agencies. That could be the difference between meeting a very important deadline or not."

An e-Apostille is an electronic version of an Apostille certificate, which the Authentication Unit applies to many types of New Zealand-issued documents to verify them for use in the more than 100 countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention, including the UK, Australia and the US.

Previously, Apostilles had to be transmitted by mail or courier.

"The e-Apostille can be emailed overseas, saving time and money and allowing customers to meet tight deadlines. It has more security features than a paper Apostille, so it helps to ensure New Zealand-issued documents are not used fraudulently overseas," Tremain says.

"When the government tasked the public service with delivering smarter, quicker online services for the public and for businesses, this is exactly the sort of initiative we wanted to encourage. Cutting red tape and eliminating delay is a win for everyone."

Details of the e-Apostille service can be found at: http://www.dia.govt.nz/apostille