What does obtaining an apostille or legalisation mean?
Obtaining an apostille or legalisation means that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and/or a country’s consulate confirms that my signature and seal are genuine.
An apostille is obtained from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office only.
Legalisation nowadays starts with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office first confirming that my signature and seal are genuine, and then for some countries, the country’s embassy or consulate also has to certify my signature or seal as well (or that the signature/seal of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office are genuine).
To see whether you need an apostille or legalisation see this page.
What does an apostille or legalisation not mean?
The FCDO (or a country’s consulate/embassy) is not interested in the contents of the document you have signed or which I have copied. They are not saying (and will not say) anything about, whatsoever, the genuineness (authenticity), binding nature or legal effectiveness of the document (nor do I).
For example, the FCDO state on each apostille they issue:
The Apostille is not to be used in the UK and only confirms the authenticity of the signature, seal or stamp on the attached UK public document. It does not confirm the authenticity of the underlying document. Apostilles attached to documents that have been photocopied and certified in the UK confirm the signature of the UK official who conducted the certification only. It does not authenticate either the signature on the original document or the contents of the original document in any way.
Who can get obtain an apostille or get a document legalised?
Anyone who has the notarised document. I do not have to be involved at all. You can do it yourself or you could let someone else do it. It is up to you.
However many clients ask me to deal with obtaining an apostille or legalisation. I will normally arrange for this through an agent.
How much does it cost?
If only the FCDO is involved, then their charges are:
- £30 per a document for their normal service (available only by post) plus a delivery charge to return the document or documents, and
- £75 per a document for their ‘premium’ service (available only in person and only if you are a pre-registered business or a notary). Individuals cannot use this service.
If legalisation needs carrying out by a country’s consulate, there will be additional amounts payable (these can range from a few pounds per a document to £500 per a document (for commercial documents going to the UAE)).
How do I arrange for my notarised document to receive an apostille/be legalised by the FCDO?
If you are an individual you will need fill in a form and pay on line at the FCDO website, then send your notarised document to the FCDO office in Milton Keynes by post only. You cannot deliver it by hand or courier, only by post. You cannot also use the FCDO’s London office for any purpose (ie to get your document legalised or to deliver your document). If you wish wish to do so yourself, visit the legalisation page of the FCDO website, where there is a step-by-step method for doing so.
If you are a business you can use the postal method mentioned in the previous paragraph or use the premium service mentioned under the previous heading. However, you will need to register first as a business customer.
As an alternative, you can ask me to arrange to obtain the apostille or legalisation, I will normally arrange for this through an agent. See this page for how much it costs to do so and how long it takes. See also Should I arrange for legalisation myself? page.
What does legalisation look like?
See an [example] of what the FCDO put on a document.
Last updated: 7 February 2021.