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Apostille and consular legalisation of documents

Why and how to get your documents Legalised or Apostilled in the UK

If you are travelling abroad either for business or for studying purposes, or if you are planning to settle in a different country, you might be requested to provide your relevant documentation – such as a Criminal record, birth certificate, University diploma or transcript – duly translated by an official translator and legalised with an “Apostille”. This happens when you have to produce a document that is required by public authorities in an official capacity in order to be accepted.
The purpose of legalising a document is to confer it legal validity through a declaration that ensures and authenticates a signature and certifies the qualification of the person who affixed it. Nevertheless, it is important to clarify that a legalisation or an Apostille does not confirm the authenticity of the underlying document. Apostilles attached to documents that have been photocopied and certified in the UK merely confirm the signature of the UK public official who conducted the certification.
In most situations, the need to “legalise” a document can confuse the users who are not aware of the difference in the type of legalisation required in their case. This is not a problem; our experts will be able to help and support you throughout the legalisation process for your documents and translation certification!
In order to be legalised with an Apostille, a document must bear the autographed signature and ink stamp of a legal authority or the original ink signature of a Public Official, such as a Notary Public or, ultimately, a solicitor whose signature is recorded at the Legalisation Office.
If a document doesn’t bear a public ink signature or a recognised stamp, it needs to be certified by a Solicitor or a Notary Public. This supplementary certification may involve, by way of example but not limited to, documents such as:

  1. Degree certificate or diploma, A-Levels, University or College reference letters;
  2. Personal documents: ID, driving licences, Passports, medical documents, medical reports, Deed Poll, Power of Attorney;
  3. Replacement copies of birth, marriage, death or residence certificates;
  4. Business documents, Company House certificates, Certificate of Incumbency, Certificate of Incorporation, Company good standing certificate, Company Authorisation Letters, Bank reference letters;
  5. Digital documents issued only in electronic format. Pursuant to the last updates on certification requirements, in order to acquire full legal validity and to be eligible for legalisation, any digital documents must be certified by a solicitor as a true certified copy of the original electronic document.

Generally, only original documents can be legalised or Apostilled; in the event of unique and unrepeatable acts, you must provide a Notarised true copy of such document or a certified copy issued by a solicitor.
As every recipient Country sets its own requirements, which may change from time to time, we recommend that you seek advice regarding whether or not your document needs to be legalised or Apostilled and therefore scan and send such via email to our office

Apostille or Legalisation, is there any difference?

Legalisation or an Apostille is simply confirmation that the signature, seal or stamp affixed to an official public document are authentic. You can have the same type of legalisation, through the issue of an Apostille certificate, regardless of whether the destination Country for the legalised document(s) is a member of the Hague Convention or not. However, please note that:

  1. Legalisation through an “Apostille” in Countries that entered into the1961 Hague convention helps governments recognise and accept one another’s documents as long as the signature, which must always be handwritten, has been verified;
  2. Legalisation through an “Apostille” in any other Country requires further official acknowledgement by their consular representative office, which shall affix an additional stamp on the document to issue “Consular attestation”.

You can have certain UK documents Apostilled or legalised by the Government Legalisation Office, which thoroughly checks your documents to ensure that the signature, stamp or seal affixed are genuine and authentic. This Office legalises your documents by attaching an “Apostille” or “Legalisation certificate”. MMW Europe can help you through this process, dealing directly with the Government Legalisation Office (“Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”) and take care of all requirements entailed in having your documents legalised within 2 days at the most. Same-day legalisation may be provided at extra cost upon request.

Legalising documents with the UK Country Consular Representative

Should you need to legalise a document addressed to a Country that has not entered into the Hague Convention, you need to obtain an extra attestation through the Embassy or consular office of such Country in the UK. It is important to be aware that every Consulate observes its own rules and procedures for submitting documents, as set forth by the Government Laws in force.
Please note that you cannot get documents issued outside the UK legalised with an Apostille, but you must have them legalised in the Country they were issued to ensure they are completely legal. An electronic digital version of the Apostille is not yet available, although a pilot project is underway and may soon be ratified by the Countries that have entered into the 1961 Hague Convention.

For further information on Apostille, click here

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