Legalisation & Apostille FAQs
What is legalisation?
Legalisation is the official confirmation that a signature, seal or stamp appearing on a document is genuine. Having a document legalised does not mean that the content of a document is accurate.
Why do documents need to be legalised or have Apostille Certificates?
If you are going to use documents overseas or overseas documents here, for business or personal reasons, you will probably be asked to have your documents legalised before they can be accepted.
How do we legalise documents and get Apostille Certificates?
At first, we check with the relevant authorities if the documents are both needed to be legalised and then whether they can be legalised. This is a service that attracts a separate fee. Afterwards, we get the documents legalised with the relevant authorities whom check the signature, seal or stamp that appears on the document against their database and then attach an apostille (legalisation certificate) that confirms it is genuine.
How can I get Apostille Certificates for my documents (or legalised)?
You can send your documents to us by post or bring them to our office in London. Besides standard application (which take approximately four weeks to process), we have three levels of service: two week service, three day service and same day service.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WE CAN ALSO OBTAIN TRANSLATED DOCUMENTS, OR OFFER ANY OTHER NOTARIAL SERVICES FOR AN ADDITIONAL FEE.
What is an Apostille Certificate?
The Apostille Certificate is the result of a Hague Convention abolishing the requirement for full legalisation. The Hague Conventions are created by agreement of the members of the Hague Conference on Private and International Law.
What is the Hague Conference on Private and International Law?
The Hague Conference is an organisation created to bring together the different legal systems that exist in each member country with a view to simplifying legal activities, which involve the jurisdiction of two or more countries.
What are Hague Conventions?
When members of The Hague Conference meet, they come together to negotiate and agree on rules that ensure all members act in a certain way in certain areas of law. This agreement is called a convention and all members that adopt a convention agree to follow the rules and requirements that make legal activities in that particular area standardised across the members.
Not all members of the Hague Conference automatically adopt every convention. Conventions are reviewed to ensure they are still achieving what was intended.
Who are the members of the Hague Conference?
As of November 2006 there were 65 members of the Hague Conference: all states of the European Union, plus China, Russia and the United States.
Documents we can legalise (or get Apostille Certificates):
We can legalise most documents as long as they bear an original signature, seal or stamp from a public organisation or official, UK solicitors or notaries publicly registered with the Law Society, UK doctors registered with the General Medical Council, UK veterinary surgeons, UK Coroners, and members of the diplomatic corps (foreign diplomats) serving in and accredited to the UK.
If you choose to legalise photocopies instead of original documents (when this is possible - see below), you should check with the end users of the document to ensure that this is acceptable to them. For a sample list of UK documents that can be legalised, please click here.
What legislation is the relevant authority for Apostille Certificates?
Convention 12 entered into force in January 1965, the full title of the convention is: "Convention abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents".
The purpose of this convention is to remove the need for diplomatic or consular legalisation of foreign public documents.
How does this affect document legalisation for non-member countries?
Many non-member countries will often accept a foreign document once it has been issued with an Apostille Certificate and then legalised at the Consular section of their own embassy in the foreign document's country of origin.
However, this is not always the case and further confirmation will need to be carried out. Please contact us for advice.
Embassy Legalisation of Documents - Super Legalisation:
Documents which are being presented in a country which is not a part of the Hague Convention relating to Apostille's will often request further legalisation. This usually involves having an Apostille attached to the document and then carrying out further legalisation through the embassy of that country.
This can add considerable complexity to the process, since different embassies have different procedures and costs. It is also advisable to ask the authority that what their exact requirements are.