Also known as apostille or legalization, document authentication is done to prove that the seal and signature on personal or corporate documents are genuine. It may be needed when carrying out transactions abroad or upon request. The Hague Convention governs the issuance of apostilles in the signatory countries. Keep reading to find out more about it.
It is hard to determine the exact situation where you will require to legalise your documents, so you should always check whether you need authenticated documents with the relevant authorities.
Here is a non-ehaustive list of documents that may be legalised: birth certificates; marriage certificates; death certificates; divorce certificates; any documents filed at the land registry; mortgages; powers of Attorney (including Durable Powers of Attorney); letters of authorization; letters of consent; property transfer documents; affidavits; warranty deeds; adoption certificates; probate documents; HM Revenue and Customs letters signed by an HMRC officer; confirmation of residence documents signed by an HMRC office; and wards or degrees (UK-issued).
The legalization office can help in the authentication process. You must apply online and send your original documents to the legalization office by post. The office then verifies the document by ensuring that the stamp, signature, and seal are real. Once these have been verified, they attach an officially stamped certificate to your documents.
You need to use an A4-sized envelope when sending your documents via post. Make sure you include the return address on the envelope and attach enough UK postage stamps to cover the return postage. This is only viable for people residing in the UK.
If you have a registered businesses you can fast track your application. You must register online and attend the premium office in central London between 9 am and 12:30 pm. Once there, you´ll be told a collection time for the papers between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
The legalization office is only capable of verifying documents issued in the UK. If you would like to legalize documents issued by another country, you will need to enlist the services of the issuing country. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office can also issue an apostille.
To legalise your documents, you will need:
Individuals are charged a standard £30 per document. Depending on your location, you may also need to cater for courier fees or postage services, ranging from £5 per 1.5 kg to £22 per 1.5 kg.
If you are in a rush, a premium authentication service ensures your documents are authenticated on the same day. This service is only available to registered businesses. It costs £75 per document.
Ideally, the whole process takes about twenty days. However, when planning, you must account for a few additional days for postage or courier services. If your documents are hard to authenticate (like a signature taking a long time to verify), the legalization office will contact you via email to inform you of the changes.
Legalizing documents is critical to ensure that you can easily use them where needed. Identity Document Validation Technologies (IDVT) has been introduced to authenticate documents quickly. They used to reduce fraudulent activities. These documents are: identity cards, passports, residence permits, and driving licenses.