FCO Legalisation Notarisations Apostille

Information about FCO Legalisation, Notarization & The Hague Convention

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the Government department responsible for protecting and promoting British interests around the world. The head of the FCO is the Foreign Secretary, currently a position held by Conservative MP Boris Johnson. The position is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious positions that can be held by a Cabinet Member.

One crucial way in which the UK’s FCO seeks to assist British nationals is through the legalisation of documents. For a number of reasons international governments are entitled to request documents that must be legalised before they can be used for their intended purpose. Certain UK documents can be ‘legalised’ by the FCO’s Legalisation Office. The Legalisation Office will check the signature, stamp or seal and once accepted as genuine will attach a stamped official certificate, known as an ‘apostille’, to legalise it. Below is a list of documents that may require legalisation;

  • Business Contracts
  • Export Certificates
  • Religious Documents
  • Certificates of Incorporation
  • Birth, Civil Partnership, and Marriage Certificates
  • Certificate of No Impediment
  • Documents from British Overseas Territories
  • Academic Certificates

Notarization

Various steps need to be taken before obtaining a document that has received an Apostille stamp to verify that it has been legalized by the FCO Legalisation Office. Notarization is the process of verifying the authenticity of the facts set out in a document. We work on your behalf to provide notarization services that assure the documents are considered valid and legal in whichever country they are intended for. This process is essential before receiving the Apostille stamp and seeks to further strengthen the legality and validity of the documents in question.

Translation

In some cases, the documents required may need to be translated. To do so the document must have the Sworn UK Translation legalized at the FCO office. To ensure your documents receive their Apostille stamp from the FCO Legalisation Office we provide translation services to ensure no unnecessary delays occur as part of your application.

The Hague Convention

When discussing the need for the legalization of documents it is important to understand the role of The Hague Convention. The agreements full title is ‘The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation’. This agreement ended the need for additional legalisation requirements for document use between its member nations. The Hague convention stipulates that an Apostille is the only form of legislation required for travel between member nations. The following countries are all members of The Hague Convention;

Albania Dominica Liechtenstein St. Kitts and St. Nevis
Andorra Ecuador Lithuania St. Lucia
Argentina Estonia Macedonia Samoa
Armenia Fiji Malawi San Marino
Australia Finland Malta Serbia
Austria France Marshall Islands Seychelles
Azerbaijan Georgia Mauritius Slovakia
Bahamas Germany Mexico Slovenia
Barbados Greece Moldova South Africa
Belarus Grenada Monaco Spain
Belgium Honduras Montenegro Suriname
Belize Hungary Namibia Swaziland
Bosnia and Herzegovina Iceland Netherlands Sweden
Botswana India New Zealand Switzerland
Brunei Darussalam Ireland Niue Tonga
Bulgaria Israel Northern Ireland Trinidad and Tobago
China Italy Norway Turkey
Colombia Japan Panama Ukraine
Cook Islands Kazakhstan Peru UK
Croatia Korea, Republic of Poland USA
Cyprus Latvia Portugal Venezuela
Czech Republic Lesotho Romania  
Denmark Liberia Russian Federation  

Process of legalisation

As for the process of legalisation itself, there are a number of steps that must be followed in order to correctly apply for your Apostille certified documents. We have outlined and summarised the process below;

  • Check that all document requirements needed by the requesting party have been fulfilled and included
  • Check that the documents required for legalisation can be found on the FCO list of approved documents and are formatted in the accepted format as per the legislation guidelines
  • Payments need to be made, either via the online payment system or through traditional means i.e. bank cheques, postal orders or bank drafts
  • Application for Legalisation forms can be found and downloaded on the FCO website. Individuals are responsible for ensuring all the necessary details are filled in correctly and in the manner requested
  • All the necessary forms, documents and payments should be posted to the FCO provided postal address and be contained within an A4 sized envelope

To recap, within the application itself it is essential to include; All of the documents that are to be legalized, the FCO provided Legalisation Application Form and either printed out online payment status or bank drafts, postal orders or business cheques for none online payments. All the above documents should be neatly included inside an A4 sized envelope which must be pre-paid.

Do not include any form of payment that are not outlined as an acceptable method (as outlined above), any form of ID and no additional documents not intended for use in the FCO legalisation process.

The FCO’s official website currently estimates that applications can take anything from 2 up to 10 days to process the documents using the standard service with documents returned to the sender via courier.

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