What is the legalisation of documents and How long does it take?

Getting ready to settle overseas is often about authorising paperwork. Since in many countries, only foreign legal documents are approved by the government, it is necessary that if any of you need in abroad to be checked before you enter.’ This process ensures that a document has been issued by someone of the appropriate authority and also that the signature is authentic. Let’s learn more about the process of documents legalisation.

Difference between Apostille, Authentication and Legalization:

Certification of documents as authentic to be used in foreign countries was much more challenging in history than it is today. The terms of the 1961 Hague Convention #12 (‘Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents’)* have eliminated much of this complication, at least in the regions where it exists.

There is a very straightforward procedure for how to get an apostille. Document certification involves in these steps: the governing body in the home country attributes the seal to the document (or a certified copy of the paper) or attaches it to a different sheet called an allonge). Once a document gets configured with an apostille, it is appropriate to be used in a foreign state.

Remember, that for the apostille to be approved, the document must have been released in one state party to the Hague Convention to be used in another state party to the Hague Convention.

  • Authentication:
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In situations where apostille is not a solution, legal documents must be authenticated. Authentication typically starts with the group signing and notarising the document. The state or county authorities would then review the notary’s receipt and, finally, the U.S.  Department Of state approve the paper.

  • Legalisation:

When a document is authenticated, it must be approved by a foreign authority to be legitimate there. This procedure, called legalisation, or UAE embassy legalization typically took place at the consulate or embassy of the country and regarded as the final stage in the documents verification process.

The legalisation of documents is for what?

Legalisation is an administrative process that demonstrates the validity of an official document. An official document typically holds both a signature and a stamp. You may be asked by certain authorities overseas to provide verified documents. The legalising of documents would confirm:

  • Validity of the signature;
  • the resource of the issuing authority;
  • the validity of the stamp.

Due to current international agreements established by various countries, especially by the Hague Convention of 1961), the conditions may vary based on the state wherein you wish to use the paper. In other cases, it might not be appropriate to get a document validated, or only an apostille is required. So, get the right information according to the decided area (country, region) before you submit your legal papers!

Which documents can be legalised?

Do you want to have a legal invitation letter to apply for a visa? Are you going to study at a foreign university and are expected to have a validated copy of your diploma? While planning for emigration, you may need to legalise various types of official papers:

  • Civil status certificates (birth, marriage, divorce, or death certificates)
  • Diplomas and certificates of education
  • Notary actions and records of the court
  • Police licences
  • Study and Education certificates (Letter of acceptance, Enrolment letters etc.)
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Policies and invoices
  • Affidavits
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Who can legalise documents?

The relevant authorities for the authorisation of documents can differ depending on:

  • In the region, you were when you requested the verification,
  • The country in which you wish to use the paper,
  • the type of document.
  • The expense of the legalisation process ranges from state to state.

In your country of origin

The Ministry or Department of International Affairs of your native country is generally responsible for legalising documentation to be used abroad. Your home country must issue the documentation.


The embassies or consulate of your native country may legalise documentation to be used in your country of residence.

What if you want to legalise documents issued abroad?

You need to get in touch with your native country ambassador or embassy situated in your home country. If you require to translate the documents, make sure to use a sworn translator. Most of the time, you would first need to receive a document legalised by the municipal authority (mostly by the Department or Ministry of International Affairs).

How long does it take to legalise documents?

The processing time for documentation legalisation depends on the type of documents and the country in which the documents are to be used (whether they need an apostille or authentication). oThe dates stated are usually estimates which may be postponed based on various reasons, including processing times at Government offices and Embassies, weather-related delays, post or shipment delays, etc.

Still, have questions? Feel free to email us or call us at (202) 247-0837.

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