Guide: UK documents for international use
Using documents abroad – Apostille, Legalisation and Consularization
Using UK public documents internationally can be a minefield of regulation and procedure. Below we detail current global legalisation procedures, that are required for recognition of documents abroad. Use our clickable map or index links to access country specific information on consular costs, timelines and procedures.
Notarisation, Legalisation and Consularization
There are exceptions but prior to acceptance of documents abroad there are three differing processes in operation internationally.
The first is where a notary seal and signature suffice, applies within the UK and many of it’s crown dependencies.
The second requires apostillisation and is the result of an international agreement commonly known as the “apostille convention” or “Hague convention”. This is an additional step of having a sticker applied to the notarised document by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that guarantees the authenticity of the notaries seal and signature.
Consularization – Legalisation
The third form requires an additional step of legalisation – consularization which involves having the FCO apostilled documents been sent to consular representative – the documents can then freely be used for official purposes in the recipient jurisdiction.
Apostille Convention – Exceptions
In certain countries such as Brazil, the notarised document is accepted without the requirement for it first to be sent to the FCO UK for an apostille certificate (though the Notary Public must be registered at the Embassy). In newly acceded countries to the apostille convention such as Peru and India it may take some time for local officials to recognise the new status and you are recommended to confirm with the document recipient their exact requirements. There are also constitutional anomalies related to the apostille convention such as Hong Kong and Macau who were signatories prior to the transfer of sovereignty to China PRC, apostille been still accepted.
Global Legalisation Map
Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Chile China Colombia Comoros Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Côte dIvoire
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria São Tomé and Príncipe