A guide to Apostille and Legalisation in UK
If you want a
document of one country to be legally acceptable and recognizable in the other
country, you need to legalise that document in the UK.
this process of legalising and apostille of a document usually involves a kind
of certificate or stamp which is provided by the country to which the document
originally belongs to and that certificate should be acceptable and
recognizable in the country where the document is intended to be used. In a
very simple way this means that you cannot use a government document of one
country in another country without a certification from the country where the document has originated.
Some type of documents that require
authentication may include: birth certificates, death certificates, powers
of attorney, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, property deeds,
incorporation papers, corporate legal documents, contracts, adoption
papers, affidavits, and school transcripts, diplomas, degrees. Also,
if a document has been translated, you need to legalise the translated document
In UK there are two ways in which this
‘recognition’ of a particular document can be done: Apostille and Legalisation.
Certification of documents for overseas use typically follows one of the two
paths. If the document is to be used between the countries that are part of the
Hague Convention #12, certification of the documents can be done through a
streamlined process known as ‘Apostille.’
Having said that, there are countries that
are not part of the Hague Convention #12, in such countries documents must
undergo a more involved process known as ‘Legalisation.’ However, in both
cases, government agencies are required to review the notary acknowledgments or
signatures on the documents in question. You can also get your documents
authenticated by ‘Notarisation,’ that is done by a public notary who ensures the authenticity of the signatures, facts, affidavits, declarations made, power of
attorney etc. in the documents.
take a look as to how the Apostille, Notarisation, and Legalisation differ from
An apostille is a form of authentication or
certification issued for such documents that are to be used in the countries that
are a part of the Hague Treaty of 1961. Apostille authenticated documents can only
be used in a foreign country that accepts such documents without any further
authentication needed on such documents.
Notarisation or notary refers to a process
in which a public notary formally attests to the authenticity of the document
by inspecting the sign or any facts laid in the document. After affirming the
document, the notary public sign and stamp the document only after you signing
the document to verify your identity. A notary public is a person, usually a
solicitor but not always, who is officially authorised to undertake certain
Legalisation is a process followed by those
countries that are not a part of the Hague Treaty of 1961. To present a legal
document in such countries you need to authenticate whether the notary’s
signature and seal are genuine. This is called the legalisation. Legalisation can
only be done at an embassy or consulate of the country in which the
document will be used and requires an authenticated document bearing a
signature, seal and/or stamp of a Notary Public.
Let’s discuss each type in detail-
Apostille is a form of certificate which is
used among the countries that are a part of the Apostille Convention to get the
certification recognized in those countries. Apostille is an easier way to
verify and legalize a document between the countries. But, this method of
certification can only be used among the countries that are a part of the
When a country issues an Apostille for a document
intended to be used in some other country which is a part of the Apostille
Convention, then no further authentication of such document is requested or
required. The authority receiving the document accepts the seals or signatures
as true and valid.
In the United Kingdom Apostille is issued
by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office based in Milton Keynes which is also
known as the legalisation office which can legalise any UK document with an
Apostille certificate. It should be noted here that the process of legalising
your UK document that is intended to be used in a country that is a part of the
Apostille Convention, the terms ‘Apostille’ and ‘Legalisation’ stands for the
Before going further, here is the brief as
to what is does an Apostille Convention refer to and which countries is a part
of it. In 1961, in Hague, Netherlands, many countries came together to create a
simplified method of ‘legalising’ documents for universal recognition. Also
known as Hague Convention, the participating members of the conference, adopted
a document known as an Apostille as the only form of legalisation required for
any document among the member countries.
An Apostille certificate is attached to the
validated UK documents that are needed to be used in a foreign country. This
certificate is attached to such a document whose validity of official signatures
or seals has been confirmed thereby making it acceptable in a foreign land that
has agreed on the Hague Convention. In UK, you get an apostille on most of the
documents in a day or two.
The Apostille contains the following
Country which has issued the
The person who has signed the
Date of issue
Place of issue
If there is any seal on the
document the Apostille gives the details of that seal
Apostille issuing authority
Certificate number of the
Stamp of the issuing authority
Signature of the issuing
that require Apostille Certificate include:
· Students studying overseas need
to provide Apostille certified education certificates, attendance proof for
further studies or work visas
· Birth Certificates
· Government identification cards
· Death Certificates, Power of
attorney in such cases where the property is owned in a foreign land and the the property owner has died
· Marriage Certificates
documents such as Business permits and letters of incorporation also require
Procedure to obtain an Apostille
In order to get an Apostille certificate,
you need to provide your original document or a copy for review and approval of
the issuing body. While it is suggested to provide an original document but some
countries do not require original copies of the document, so a copy will
To provide an Apostille certificate to any document, the UK Foreign
and Commonwealth Office needs the document to be in their original format and
in English. If the submitted document is in any other language, you are
required to provide for a certified English translation attached with the
document. To make it easier, below are the steps to get an Apostille
You need to be aware of the
requirements of the requesting authority for legal documents and make sure to
submit all the supporting documents
Fill out the application form in
the format accepted by the FCO. The application form is to be submitted along
with the documents to be legalized
Fees to get an Apostille
certificate can be paid either online, UK postal order or bank cheques
long does it take to get an Apostille certificate?
There are two ways to get your Apostille
certificate: Standard Service and Premium Service. In case you choose Standard
Service, you will get your Apostille certificate in 2 working days excluding
postage times but if you are applying through Standard Service during peak
months, it might take longer.
An Apostille is given on the same day if you choose
Premium Service but you will have to pay more in this case. So, depending upon
the urgency you can choose any of the methods to get your certificate.
long is an Apostille valid?
All the Apostille certificates bear the
date of issue but they do not bear any expiry date. Most of the time an
apostille is accepted at any time after the date of issuance but under some
circumstances, a recent apostille may be requested on a document. One such case
is criminal record check. In this case, the visa authority may ask for a recent
apostille that has been issued within 3 to 6 months.
Certificate of no impediment is another
such document that requires an apostille that has been issued within 3 to 6
document be legalised and issued a certificate of Apostille at the same time?
Yes, you get both the things done at
the same time. Legalisation basically means that the Ministry for Foreign
Affairs has validated that all the signatures and stamps found on a particular
document are genuine, while by issuing of a certificate of Apostille the
document is exempted from legalisation.
In special cases when a particular the document is required to be legalised as well as be certified by an Apostille
certificate, then this is permitted by the British embassy and other governing
This involves the verification of the
authenticity of the facts laid out in a document. Some countries require
notarisation of the documents before they are presented in those countries.
Notarisation is done by a public notary to ensure the authenticity of the
signatures, facts, affidavits, declarations made, power of attorney etc. It
should be noted here that some countries require notarisation of the Apostille
certified documents for international acceptance.
A notarised document means that the
identity and signature of the signatory has been verified and witnessed by a
Notary Public at the time of signing. Such documents are by an impression of
the Notary Public’s stamp or seal to indicate that the document is that of the
person who signed the document.
It is obligatory on the Notary Public to verify
the identity of the signatory in order to ensure that the document is signed or
executed under the signatory’s free will.
In some countries such as Australia, South
Africa, Canada and Bahamas, a notary signature is accepted without any further
that are needed to be certified by a Notary Public before getting
Some documents that are required to be
certified by a Notary Public before they proceed for the legalisation process.
Such documents include:
Such copies of legal documents that
are without actual signatures or stamps
Documents issued by private
individuals need to be notarized
School grades from compulsory
Invoices and VAT (Value Added
Most of the countries have joined the
Apostille Convention but there are still some countries which are not a part of
the Hague Treaty. In such cases, if you want to produce your UK documents in a
foreign land you need to legalise that document from the respective embassy.
The process is almost same as that of the Apostille but is used for the
countries that are not a part of the Hague Treaty. To make it clearer, let’s
just say that while an Apostille makes your document legal in all the
participating countries of the Hague Treaty, legalisation will make your
document valid and authenticated only in the country the consulate of which has
legalised your document.
Legalisation can only be done at
an embassy or consulate of the country in which the document will be
used, can only be done with authenticated document bearing a signature, seal
and/or stamp of a Notary Public.
If your document is legalised, it means:
The document has been issued by
a competent and expert authority
The signature, seal and/or
stamp on the document are genuine
The document is in the correct format
It is important to note here that every embassy has
its own specific requirements for legalising a document. After making sure that
the documents and requirements are met correctly, the embassy or
consulate verify the authentication stamp of Foreign Affairs and stamp, seal
and sign the document. Now the document is valid for legal purposes in the
country that legalized the document.
are the documents that can be legalised?
The documents that can be legalized through
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) include:
Any Government document such as
passport copies, Visas, naturalisation certificate, birth certificate, death
Bank documents such as account
statement, mortgage certificate etc
Corporate documents such as incorporation
certificate, Companies House documents etc
Civil documents including
marriage certificate, separation/divorce certificate etc
Medical reports, sick note,
prescriptions by doctor etc
attendance certificates, diploma, certificate of completion etc
utility bills, wills etc
There are various methods by which your
document can be legalised:
Authentication and legalisation are generally used
in the same sense. This refers to verification of the genuineness of a document
or signature, to make it valid to be used in another country.
Attestation refers to a document being stamped or
in some cased the signature on the document being witnessed by an embassy.