We are all living in an increasingly global society, and there are numerous occasions where paperwork from one country must be presented in another. This could be an academic transcript from a British university for a job overseas, or a will written overseas which is required by a British bank to release funds to a family member. Both attestation and apostille are legal methods for verifying the authenticity of documents in one country for use in another.
In 1961, the Apostille Convention was established as an agreement between countries to verify and authenticate each other’s documents. Currently, there are 125 countries around the globe which are part of this convention, including all of Europe, the United States, South America, Japan, India, and Australia. If dealing with one of these countries, a document issued in the UK is verified by attaching an official apostille certificate. This certificate is recognised in all other countries which are signed up to the Convention and should make getting a job overseas using a UK police certificate or employing someone from another nation much more straightforward.
There are many other countries which are not part of the Apostille Convention, or who have expressed an interest in joining the system but have not signed up fully. Many countries in Africa are not members of the Apostille Convention, and China and Canada are as yet not fully ratified members. Apostille certificates will therefore not be recognised by other nations, and another process called attestation must be followed instead. This also involves having the authenticity of documents verified by a lawyer or similarly qualified professional but may take longer as there is no standard process to follow.
There is no way around the formal process of apostille or attestation to use documents overseas. Usually, these documents are requested by banks or educational establishments who have no flexibility over lending money or granting a place at university without the appropriate legal stamps or verification. This is not a process which many of us will regularly go through and getting it wrong can delay starting a new job or securing a new property.
Most people who find themselves in the situation of needing an apostille will ask an agency to help them with the process. Once the form has been completed correctly, the paperwork can then be stamped by the Foreign and Commonwealth office in London. London-based agencies can deliver this paperwork in person and wait for it to be approved. Agencies in other parts of the UK will have to rely on the postal service to send paperwork to London, have it stamped with the official seal, and then returned in the post.
Getting Advice on Apostille or Attestation
If applying for a position overseas, or dealing with a foreign bank, be guided by them as to how they want the paperwork verified. Once you are clear about what is required, contact a professional apostille service who can help navigate the legal route for getting your original documents checked quickly and securely.