All about Apostille Legalisation in the UK

Our aim is to simplify the process of document legalisation which is also known as having an Apostille Certificate or Apostille Stamp. In the UK this means getting the Apostille from the FCO Legalisation Office. Most people will only encounter this requirement very rarely so it is quite often the first, and only, time you will need to know about it. We will discuss why you may need to have it done and how to go about it but for definitive information and to get the process under way please visit Apostille Services.

When do I need an Apostille?

You will need an Apostille Certificate, also known as the Hague Apostille, when a foreign organisation has requested that you have UK-sourced papers legalised as proof of authenticity. In the UK the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Legalisation Office will apply an Apostille Certificate only to UK-sourced papers and, once done, they will be usable overseas. There is a reciprocal agreement between countries signed up to Convention 12 of the Hague Convention stating that member states will accept paperwork apostilled in any of the other member states.

For example:

  • Overseas students studying at UK universities may need to produce education certificates, letters of attendance or transcripts when returning to their home country
  • Proof of ID such as Birth Certificates or copies of passports
  • Death Certificates, Wills or Powers of Attorney for use abroad
  • Criminal Record checks for employment overseas
  • UK residents wishing to work abroad may need proof of qualifications
  • Company incorporation certificates when opening bank accounts, offices or trading abroad
  • Certificate of Good Standing (COGS) for companies trading overseas
  • Certificate of No Impediment for marriage overseas
  • Divorce documents from the UK for name change on overseas passports
  • plus many, many more
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Legalisation Office will apply Apostille Certificates to documents only if they 
have an identifiable and verifiable UK stamp or signature which they can trace and confirm. Otherwise, the document will have to be certified as a true copy and signed by a UK Solicitor or Notary Public before presentation to the FCO.
Once you have confirmed your apostille requirements with the receiving overseas authority it is advisable to employ reputable service providers such as Apostille Services to do the work for you. This will save time and money and using someone who is familiar with all the procedures involved will ensure timely, trouble-free completion of your apostille.

What documents can have an Apostille Certificate?

An Apostille Certificate can apply to many different types of document:

Can I do the following?
  • Apostille a Birth Certificate? Yes, the original or a copy from the General Register Office
  • Apostille a Death Certificate? Yes, as above
  • Apostille a Marriage Certificate? Yes, as above
  • Apostille Company documents? Yes, provided they are signed by a Companies House official
  • Apostille a University Degree Certificate? Yes, but it will have to certified by a Solicitor or Notary Public
  • Apostille a Power of Attorney or Will? Yes, as above 
Any good service provider will be able to advise what other documents may have an Apostille attached, see also Documents that can be legalised for further information.

How does the Apostille appear on my document?

The Apostille Certificate (shown right) is a paper attachment which is fixed permanently to your supplied document. It will then be accepted as authentic in any of the Hague Convention countries (see above). As it is glued and embossed with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Apostille Seal you may wish to apostille a certified copy so that the original remains unchanged.

The certificate contains the following information:

Country of origin
Name of signatory on the document
The capacity in which that signatory has acted
If the document has been sealed/stamped instead of signed then the details of the authority
Place of certification
Date of certification
Issuing authorities details
Certificate number
Stamp of issuing authority
Authorised signature of authority

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How do I pronounce APOSTILLE?

Simple: a-poss-teal

Apostille is a French word that means a certification. It is commonly used in English to refer to the certification  of a document for international use under the terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. Documents that have been notarised by a Notary Public, and certain others, and then certified with a conformant apostille are accepted for legal use in all the nations that have signed the Hague Convention.

Common mis-spellings are apostile, appostile, appostille.