Is Legalising A Document The Same As An Apostille?

There are a number of different terms used to refer to the process of legalising a document. Different authorities and companies may use several terms. You may get asked for a document that has been; legalised, attested, notarised, authenticated or issued with an apostille.

One of our most frequently asked questions is; is legalising a document the same as an apostille? The short answer is, generally speaking, yes these terms both refer to the same process. The process of obtaining an apostille to verify documents for recognition between different countries.

What is an Apostille?

While we have a full post on what an apostille is, simply put an Apostille is an official government-issued certificate that should be added to a document so that the issuing or certifying body can be verified when used in another country.

All of the following terms may be used to refer to a document being legalised:

  • Notarisation – This refers to a document firstly being signed by a notary public. This is not the same as obtaining an apostille. This is most common for legal documents such as affidavits, statutory declarations and power of attorney documents. Authorities in some countries will sometimes use the term notarisation to instead refer to the apostille and embassy attestation process.

  • Attestation – This commonly refers to a document being stamped by a singular embassy. However, in some cases, this can refer to a signature being witnessed.

  • Authentication – Usually, the term authentication is used to mean the same as legalisation. This means a document will need certain stamps or certification for the document to be validated for overseas use.

Apostille Certificates that are given in the UK will be accepted in the following countries without any further legalisation:

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, China (Macau & Hong Kong), Colombia, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Republic of, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Republic of, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, FYR of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela.

These countries are collectively known as the 'member countries of the Hague Apostille Convention'. Other countries that are not listed will often sometimes accept the UK verified apostille and sometimes they will have their own procedures for legalisation after the document has received an Apostille Certificate - this is typically known as attestation and you can find out more about that here.

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