Foreign & Commonwealth Office Legalisation

Often when dealing with a legal issue abroad it will be necessary to get a document “legalised” for a specific legal purpose. This may sound like a rather complicated legal procedure but is actually quite a simple and easily understood process.

Legalising a document is required when it becomes necessary to prove to somebody overseas that the document being presented is genuine. This is because the people and/or legal body abroad have no other way of checking whether a document is genuine or whether the signature of a lawyer, solicitor, and/or notary is bona fide.

For documents which are signed by a lawyer, solicitor or Notary, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is certifying to the fact that the person is indeed genuine.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office therefore provide a service which is commonly known as “legalisation” which helps these documents be accepted overseas.

What actually happens is that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office attach a stamp to the document being presented for legalisation, the stamp is commonly known as the “Apostille” which comes from the Hague Convention of 1961. 

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The Hague Convention specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. It is an international certification comparable to a Notarization in domestic law, and normally supplements a local notarization of the document

Obtaining this Apostille stamp only costs £30 per document and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now started a service whereby they will also send the duly legalised document on directly to the end destination abroad; although this additional service will incur an additional small fee dependent on the end destination.

You can check whether a document can be legalised, how to arrange this and how to pay by looking at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website

If you would like to know more about the legalisation of documents for use overseas then you can contact our overseas legal team at (insert link to our contacts page) who will be happy to talk you through the entire process.

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.