Many documents may need to be legalised, from birth and marriage certificates to company accounts, tax returns, and partnership certificates. The process for legalisation differs depending on the nature of the document you need legalising. Here at Company Registrations Online, we offer document legalisation services, removing the need for individuals or businesses to partake in what can be a very confusing and complicated process. There are many reasons why companies should consider using a documentation legalisation service, but first, let’s look at what is involved in document legalisation, why it happens and how it differs depending on which country your document is destined for.


document legalisation

What is Document Legalisation?

Legalisation is the process of authenticating or certifying a document, allowing it to be recognised with full legal effect by a foreign country’s legal system. The process aims to give civil and judicial officials a reliable way of certifying the authenticity of a document issued abroad. The terms used to reference document legalisation vary from country to country, and it can be quite confusing. Depending on where you are in the world, having a document legalised, notarised, authenticated or issued with an apostille often refers to the same process.


What is the Difference Between Apostille and Legalisation?

Many countries are a part of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents – also known as the Hague Apostille Convention or the Apostille Treaty. Certification under the terms of this convention is called an apostille. It is the international equivalent of a domestic notarised document. The Apostille Convention removes the need for documents to be certified twice, once by the country of origin and again by the receiving country.

If a country is part of the Apostille Convention, then a document with an apostille certification will be legally recognised by that country. The Apostille Convention supplanted document legalisation as the procedure of choice in many countries – but it is only available if both the document’s country of origin and the destination country are a part of the Apostille Treaty.

If the document is to be used in a country not part of the Apostille Convention (for example, Canada), further legalisation is required. This usually involves gaining legalisation from the respective embassy.

It is also worth noting that many Commonwealth countries do not require legalisation or an apostille and will often accept documents with only a notary’s signature to certify.

To summarise what can be a confusing process:

  • If your document is for domestic use, it does not need to be legalised.
  • If your document is destined for use in a country part of the Commonwealth, it will most likely only require a notary’s signature to be recognised by law.
  • If your document is for use in a country that has signed up to the Hague Apostille Convention, it will require an apostille stamp and may need to be notarised.
  • If your document is for use in a country not part of the Hague Apostille Convention, it will need to be legalised in both the outgoing and inbound countries and may also require notarisation.



Does a Document Need to Be Notarised to be Legalised?

Whether you need to have your documents notarised before legalisation will depend entirely on the nature of the document you need legalising.

Standard documents like birth, marriage and death certificates, other certificates from recognised authorities and official government documents can be issued with an apostille without the need for any prior signatures or notarisation.

Company documents will usually need to be certified by a solicitor before issuing an apostille or before the legalisation process can begin. If your company has a group of documents that need to be certified, they can often be bound together to create a certified set.

Documents like wills, power of attorney, and deed polls will need to be notarised before issuing an apostille or legalisation certification.



How to Get Your Documents Legalised

In the UK, it is possible to get certain documents legalised through the government’s Legalisation Office. However, it can be hard to know whether your document needs to be signed by a notary or solicitor first. If the destination country for your document is not a part of the Apostille Convention, other steps may be involved in the legalisation process.

We would always recommend taking advantage of document legalisation services like those available from Company Registrations Online. Our services bring every element of document legalisation under one roof, streamlining the process and ensuring your documents are correctly notarised and legalised in conjunction with their destination country’s requirements. Within our document legalisation services, we can:

  • Arrange for a notarial certificate for your documents if required.
  • Attend the Foreign and Commonwealth office for the issue of an apostille.
  • Return your documents to you on the same day if you are in London, or the next working day for the rest of the UK.
  • For countries outside of the Apostille Convention, we can talk to the relevant embassy and apply for legalisation of the document.

Company Registrations Online isn’t just a company formation business. We have a wealth of experience dealing with foreign embassies and their processes. We understand that this can be a confusing process. Contact us today to see how we can help you with document legalisation or any other company registrations such as  our company registration packages.