Apostille and Legalisation Myths Answered

The world of apostille and legalisation is often mired in confusion and misconception. But this doesn't have to be the case! In this article, I've put to bed the most common myths.

Overseas documents can’t be legalised in the UK

They can, but in only a few circumstances. If it is an education certificate, not only does the qualification need to be certified but the institute too. An important point to consider is whether or not the recipient will accept an English apostille on a foreign document. If we continue with the education scenario, your Indian degree certificate may need verification and an apostille from India, even if you are currently in the UK, if that is what the end recipient requires.

Only a solicitor or notary can attest my document

Most of the time this is true, and more overseas companies require a notary over a solicitor due to our qualifications. However, if you have a government issued document with a wet ink signature, that can normally have the apostille attached without the need for certification by a notary. This includes your birth, death or marriage certificate, HMRC documents or ACRO certificates. Please note that whilst DBS and decree absolutes are issued by official government and legal bodies, they are not signed with a pen and therefore need certification or attestation before an apostille can be attached.

I can only use my original document

This depends on your document. ACRO, DBS, birth, death or marriage certificates all need to be original documents. Your decree absolutes, change of name deed or education certificates can all be copied. This means that you keep the original and your notary will copy, verify and attest the copy they have made. This can be done directly on the copy or with a notarial certificate securely bound to it.

The apostille takes five weeks to get

Over the summer, this was the case with contacting the FCDO directly. In winter this often shortens to 2-3 working days and e-apostilles within a few hours (advertised at the time of writing as 48 hours). The FCDO issue all apostilles, however, you can elect to use an agent that has an option to take the apostilles to the FCDO and collect them the next day. You can arrange this yourself, or I can do it for you for a small arrangement fee plus disbursements. The agent I have used for years, is reliable, trustworthy and discreet. They also manage legalisation matters too, and they really help to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

The notary near me can attach the apostille

No, notaries nor solicitors cannot do this. I think of the apostille process as two-factor authentication. I check your identity and/or documents, and they check my signature (be it ink or digital) against their records. This process provides your overseas recipient with the security that the final document is genuine and credible.

My birth certificate can have an e-apostille as it is faster and I need it quickly

The short answer is no. The e-apostille cannot be applied to a document like this. You can only have a paper version. If time is of the essence, and agent will be able to assist, but allowances need to be made for postage and courier times too.

I can have my document notarised instead of an apostille attached

If the recipient gives you a choice of the two, this is fine. However, they rarely do and you need to get what they have asked for or the document will be rejected. Some documents only need an apostille, and if it is notarised instead, it will be rejected. Conversely, if you have a document notarised and it needs an apostille, then you have to get it too. It is an extra cost and adds time to the process, but again it will be rejected if it doesn’t have what is requested. What does it mean to you if the document is rejected – will your visa application miss the deadline, will you be unable to enrol at university or start your new job? It is best to get what the recipient asks for, if in doubt – ask!

Any questions? Get in touch

I've covered the vast majority of commonly believed myths above. If I haven't answered your question - or you need the services of a highly experienced notary public - please get in touch.