Do you have to use foreign documents in Italy? Well, if they were made by a foreign authority and no international treaty provides differently (as The Brussels Convention of 1987 ratified by Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland and Italy) they must be legalized by the Italian diplomatic or consular authorities in the country in which the documents are issued or an Apostille could be necessary.
Otherwise, your foreign document won't be considered valid in Italy as a public document but only as an unauthenticated private document. That means it cannot be used by any Italian notary. The same, if you need to use abroad a document made by an Italian authority or by an Italian Notary.
Foreign documents to be used in Italy: the Italian consular or diplomatic authority abroad certifies that the documents were signed by a public official of a foreign country and the authenticity of his signature;
Italian documents to be used abroad: legalization is done by the “Procuratore della Repubblica” at the Tribunal in whose jurisdiction the notary is located (we could care of this formality). Then, the signature of “Procuratore della Repubblica”, must be legalized by the foreign consular authority of the country where you have to use the documents.
This kind of legalization is more simple, it is regulated by the Hague Convention of 5/10/1961 and replaces legalization among those countries that have signed the Convention. The Apostille is applied by the State from wich the documents are originated. And it is affixed by the competent authorities designated by each State.
Foreign documents to be used in Italy: the foreign authority responsible for issuing the apostille certifies that the documents was signed by a public official of a foreign country and the authenticity of his signature; this is enough to use the document in Italy.
Italian documents to be used abroad: for judicial certificates (i.e. criminal records, divorce decrees), and documents signed by an Italian notary public apostille is issued by the “Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale” in whose jurisdiction the notary is located (we could care of this formality). Once you get apostille you can use the document in any country that signed the Hague Convention.
Instead, for administrative documents (i.e. Birth, Death, Marriage certificates), apostille is issued by the “Prefettura office” of the place in which the document is made.
Documents from Italian Embassy or Consulates
You can use the document in Italy without legalization because it is not considered as a “foreign” document.
In any case please remember: every document to be used in Italy and written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a certified translation (it could be done also by the notary if he can translate it).