There are several terms used to refer to the process of legalizing documents in one country for the purpose of recognition in another. You may need to be notarized, certified, legalized, certified or apostille.

This can be confusing as different authorities often use different terms to refer to the same process. We often ask about the difference between legalization and apostille.

This article aims to explain the similarities and differences between various confusing terms often used when you need to send documents overseas.

What is apostille?

In order for a document in one country to be legal in another, it usually has to be legalized in some way. This usually includes a form of certification in the country of origin that is recognizable in the country where the document will be used.

Apostille. This is a popular way to achieve this. Apostille is a form of a certificate issued in only one country and is recognized in other countries that have signed the Apostille Convention.

You can find a full list of these countries here.

In Great Britain, the apostille is issued by the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also known as the Probation Office. This is often one of the main causes of confusion. However, the terms apostille and legalization refer to exactly the same process if you intend to file a document in the UK in a country that is a member of the Apostille Convention. The document is certified by issuing an apostille.

What is legalization?

In most cases, the term legalization refers to a document issued with a valid seal or certificate of recognition in another country. As mentioned above, this applies to a document issued as an apostille when the document is used by a party to the Apostille Convention.

However, additional legalization steps may be required if the document is used in countries other than the Apostille Convention. In this case, the relevant embassy must also legalize the document. For example, to use a British birth certificate in the United Arab Emirates, it must be legalized apostille and embassy seal. The stamp an embassy prints on a document is often referred to as accreditation.

In most cases, we can also assist with the certification of documents by the UK Embassy where appropriate.

Other terms used

The following terms may be used in relation to the legalizable document:

Notarial certificate – this is usually the first document signed by a notary public. This is commonly seen in affidavits, affidavits and powers of attorney. Confusingly, authorities in some countries use the term notary to refer to embassy apostille and notarial procedures.

Certification – this is usually a document signed by a specific embassy. In some cases, this may mean a authenticated signature.

Certification: The term certification is often synonymous with legalization. This means that some seals or certificates on the document must be verified for use abroad.

Many of the terms used to describe the validation process are interchangeable or have different meanings in different contexts. It is advisable to explain the exact need of the institution to which the document was submitted.

Our service ensures that your documents are properly legalized in accordance with the requirements of the country in which they will be submitted. Contact us today for a consultation.

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