What is an Apostille?
An Apostille is a type of authenticity issued to certain documents to be used in any country which participates in the Hague Convention of 1961. Documents must be “certified” in countries which do not participate in the Hague Convention.
What needs to happen with documents used in other countries?
Once a document has been notarised, it must then be legalised (to essentially give it legal ‘weight’). The Apostille is attached to the document as a part of this legalisation stage for countries which are party to the Hague Convention.
The Apostille stamp is attached to the document (this can be done by a notary public in central London) after it has been notarised, and this stamp is attached by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office who will charge a fee in exchange for this service. Countries which are not party to the convention also typically require notarised documents to be stamped at their UK-based embassy prior to being sent abroad.
What type of documents require an Apostille?
There are a wide variety of documents used on a daily basis by UK citizens and foreign nationals which require an Apostille in order to legalise them. These include corporate documents, such as company by-laws, articles of incorporation and minutes of meetings, as well as personal documents like degrees and diplomas, letters from government departments, medical information, bank or building society records, references, job certifications, housing deeds and more.
What information does an Apostille Certificate feature?
In addition to the FCO stamp, an official Apostille Certificate should follow a prescribed design format and must contain the following:
• The country of issue
• The name of who has signed the document
• The professional capacity of the person who has signed the document
• Details of any seals on the document
• The place of issue
• The date of issue
• The issuing authority
• An Apostille Certificate number
• The stamp or seal of the issuing authority
• The signature of a representative of the issuing authority
What does it cost?
Costs for an Apostille Certificate can vary dependent on the document, although an early indication of costs can be established by providing the following information:
• The number of documents
• The country the intended recipient resides in
• Who the papers are for (e.g. personal or corporate)
• The type of service you need
• How quickly the service needs to be obtained
For further information on obtaining an Apostille Certificate, simply contact South London Notaries for guidelines and advice.