If you need to use official South African documents in another country, it is necessary that they are legalised for use abroad. This can be for any number of reasons, such as legalising university degrees for a job in another country.

What is legalisation?

Legalising documents means that official (public) documents executed within South Africa for use outside the country are affixed, sealed and signed either with an Apostille Certificate (where countries are party to The Hague Convention) or with a Certificate of Authentication (where countries are not party to The Hague Convention).

  • Legalisationbasically means the process followed by which the signature and seal on an official (public) document is verified.

The process involved in signing/executing documents:

If a country is part of The Hague Convention, the following process applies:

  • The documents are signed and/or executed in the presence of a Notary Public. The Notary Public will attach the Certificate of Authentication to the documents which must bear his signature, stamp and seal.
  • The documents are then forwarded by the Notary Public to the High Court in the area in which the Notary Public practices. The Court will then attach an Apostille Certificate authenticating the Notary Public’s signature.

There are certain documents that the High Court will not Apostille/Authenticate and must be sent to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), which is based in Pretoria. For example:

  • All Home Affairs documents; and
  • Police Clearance Certificates.

If a country is not part of The Hague Convention, the following process applies:

  • The documents are signed and/or executed in the presence of a Notary Public. The Notary Public will attach the Certificate of Authentication to the documents which must bear his signature, stamp and seal.
  • The documents are then forwarded by the Notary Public to The High Court in the area in which the Notary Public practices. The Court will then attach an Apostille Certificate authenticating the Notary Public’s signature.
  • Documents are then submitted to the Legalisation Section at DIRCO to be legalised.
  • Once legalised by DIRCO the documents are then forwarded to the Embassy/Consulate of the country in which they are intended to be used for further authentication.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

References:

http://www.dirco.gov.za/consular/legalisation.htm

http://www.dingleymarshall.co.za/getting-docs-row-authenticate-documents-south-africa/