FAQs Document Attestation

Frequently Asked Questions about international document certification, legalization and apostille services

What is International Document Attestation or Legalization?

International Attestation or Legalization is a special procedure to certify the authenticity of an official document issued in one country so that it is legally valid for use in another country. For example, you have a birth certificate issued in France and you want to use it in Qatar – because certificates issued in France are not directly recognised as valid in Qatar without proper attestation, the certificate needs to be legalized. Depending on the country of issue and use, this International Attestation is obtained through one of two procedures: Apostille Certification or Consular Legalisation.

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What is the difference between Apostille Certification and Consular Legalization? Which is the correct procedure to attest my documents?

Consular Legalisation is a double certification of a document, first by the issuing country and then by country where the document will be used. Apostille Certification is a simpler, single certification by the issuing country only that is accepted directly in the country where the document will be used without further requirement.

Apostille Certification can only be used when both the issuing country and the country where the documents will be used are signatories to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Hague Apostille ConventionExternal link (opens in new tab) (see list of Apostille countries). Otherwise, documents have to be attested through Consular Legalisation.

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What type of documents can be attested?

It depends on the issuing country, but generally most public and government-issued documents can be authenticated with an Apostille or attested – e.g. birth, marriage, death certificates, criminal records, court documents, medical certificates issued by recognised doctors, academic diplomas issued by recognised institutions, company formation documents. In some countries, private documents can also be legalised if they are first notarized. The rules can be complex, and they differ from country and country. Use our Online Quotation Form to see if your document is eligible.

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How long does it take to obtain an Apostille?

Depending on the country, a simple apostille certification can take a single day, more complex legalization requiring certification by multiple authorities in different jurisdictions can take weeks. Use our Online Quotation Form to send us your documents, and we will give you an estimate of how long the process will take.

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How much does it cost to obtain an Apostille?

The cost of legalizing documents is dependent on a number of factors including the country of issue and the country where the document will be used, the urgency of the process, the number of documents, whether Certified Translations are required, and whether any prior preparations (e.g. notarization) is required. Use our Online Quotation Form to send us your documents and we will let you know how much it will cost, including all fees and taxed payable to different authorities.

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Is it possible to legalize and certify documents that were issued abroad?

Yes - we legalise document issued in over 100 countries. We work with local agents to take care of all procedures in person, ensuring that each process is completed quickly and securely.

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How do I order legalization/apostille certification of my documents?

Send us your documents first by email or by using our Online Quotation Form. First we will check that your documents are eligible for legalization/apostille certification in the country where they are issued. Then we will confirm how much the process will cost and how long it will take. To proceed, follow the simple instructions given in our quotation – we will generally arrange a secure courier for you if you need to send us original documents.

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Do I need to send you the original documents?

Unless documents are electronic (and officially valid in electronic format), we will usually require the paper originals, since authorities will want to verify their authenticity. In many cases you can send a A certified copy is a copy (often a photocopy) of a primary document that has on it an endorsement or certificate that it is a true copy of the primary document. Certified CopyExternal link (opens in new tab) instead – please ask and we will advise – or we will make a certified copy for you.

If you have mislaid the original documents, or don’t have access to them, let us know – where we can, we will always assist in obtaining replacements from local authorities.

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Do my documents need to be translated?

If your documents are issued in language that is not an official language of the country where they are to be used, then they will need to be translated. We will arrange any Certified Translations required for the attestation process.

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What if the documents I want to attest contain personal data?

We treat the content of all documents we are asked to certify, whether or not they contain personal data, as strictly confidential. We will not use their content for any purpose other than to complete the attestation procedure.

If your documents contain personal data that is not your own, please ensure that you have consent from the owner before sharing it with us. We cannot be held liable for any data that is transmitted to us without the consent of its owner. Please also indicate to us if your documents contain sensitive personal data, such as data on criminal convictions or medical data.

For further details on our processing of personal data contained in customer inquiries and your data rights, please see:
Privacy Policy (Customer Inquiries)

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Which countries have signed up to the Apostille Convention?

The following countries and territories are members of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Hague Apostille ConventionExternal link (opens in new tab). For the most part, documents issued in one Convention country only require an Apostille to be valid in another Convention country and do not require embassy attestation: Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, São Tomé & Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Lucia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela

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Which countries are not signatories to the Apostille Convention?

The following countries and territories are not members of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Hague Apostille ConventionExternal link (opens in new tab). Documents issued in any of these countries or required for submission in any of these countries cannot be certified by Apostille, but must be legalized by both the issuing country and the embassy or consulate of the recipient country: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Rep., Chad, Comoros, Congo - Brazzaville, Congo - Kinshasa, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Qatar, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe

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Where can I see reviews of Isarey Certification Services?

You can see reviews from past clients who have used our attestation and apostille services:
ISAREY reviews on TrustpilotExternal link (opens in new tab)
ISAREY reviews on GoogleExternal link (opens in new tab)

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What is an Apostille Stamp?

An Apostille is a special stamp used to authenticate official documents. With a few exceptions, a document stamped with an apostille from an authority in one country will be recognized by all countries that have signed up to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Hague Apostille ConventionExternal link (opens in new tab) (see list of Apostille countries). Apostilles can only be used outside the country where the document was issued (for example, a US Apostille is not valid within the United States), and they can generally only be obtained by the country where the document was issued (for example, a US document needs an Apostille issued by a US authority).

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Is an Apostille the same as notarization?

With some exceptions, the certification of a notary is normally only recognized in the country where the notary is registered. For example, a document notarized in South Africa may not be recognized in Spain or Brazil. An Apostille is an additional certification, authenticating the signature and status of the notary or public official that is recognized in other countries.

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Do I need an Apostille Stamp?

If you have a document issued in one country and you need to use it in another, you may well need to obtain an Apostille, giving the document legal validity. This often includes documents required by embassies to support visa and residency applications - e.g. criminal record and police clearance certificates or marriage certificates. However, there are some exceptions: many documents do not require apostilles if issued and used within the European Union; some countries will accept documents issued without an apostille from certain other countries in some circumstances; and countries which are not signed up to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Hague Apostille ConventionExternal link (opens in new tab) will require a different type of legalization.

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Where can I get an Apostille Stamp?

Apostille stamps can normally be obtained directly from the issuing authority, in most cases the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
UK Apostilles are issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, South African Apostilles are issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. In some countries, for example in France or in Hong Kong, apostilles are issued by the courts.
In the United States, Apostilles on Federal documents, such as FBI certificates, are issued by the US State Department, which state documents, such as vital records, are issued by each state's Secretary of State.

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How can I verify an Apostille Stamp?

To verify an Apostille, contact the competent authority that issued it: Competent Apostille AuthoritiesExternal link (opens in new tab). Each Authority keeps a record of every Apostille it issues
Depending on the issuing authority, some apostilles can be verified online:
Apostilles issued by California: This Apostille Verification allows you to verify online whether an Authentication Certificate (Apostille) was issued by the California Secretary of State’s office. Verification of Authentication Certificate (Apostille)External link (opens in new tab)
Nevada Apostilles: Verify the authenticity of Nevada Apostille stamps Nevada Apostille verificationExternal link (opens in new tab)
UK Apostilles: Verify a UK ApostilleExternal link (opens in new tab)
Hong Kong Apostilles: Hong Kong Apostille VerificationExternal link (opens in new tab)
India Apostilles: India Apostille VerificationExternal link (opens in new tab)

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What is an e-Apostille?

While some authorities issue apostilles in digital form (for example, Argentina), the majority of Apostilles continue to be issued on paper and applied to paper documents. If an electronic option is available, check with the recipient authority, that they will accept it.

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Do I need to use a commerical provider to obtain an Apostille?

In the most part, Apostilles can be obtained cheaply direct from the issuing authority. However, there are good reasons for using a professional service, such as offered by Isarey Attestation Services. We can often obtain faster processing, for example by submitting documents to the Apostille office in person. We offer international collection and delivery of documents by courier, and we can also ensure that all documents are properly prepared and submitted, avoiding rejected applications.

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Does an Apostille prove that a document is authentic?

An Apostille does not certify the authenticity of the document to which it is applied, and does not certify the document's content. An Apostille only certifies the signature and status of the public official who signed the document (e.g. a notary, court officer or registrar of vital records). For example, an Apostille applied to a document signed by a notary in the United States, certifies that the signature is the true signature of the notary and that the notary is duly commissioned.

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Do documents issued in the European Union need Apostilles for submission to another EU state?

Certain documents do not require an Apostille when issued in one European Union member state for use in another European Union member state. Documents that do not require Apostilles include birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates, official documents establishing a person's capacity to marry or marital status.

Criminal Record Certificates issued in an EU Member State (for submission in another Member State) do not require an Apostille when issued to a citizen of the issuing state with a clean criminal record. Certificates issued to a foreign national or showing criminal convictions may still require an Apostille stamp.

When applying for certain public documents, a multilingual standard form may be requested to accompany the original. A multilingual standard form must always be issued and signed by the authority of the issuing state, providing a translation aid designed to help the receiving authority to understand a public document which is in a language not accepted by the receiving EU country.

Other documents, including university degrees and corporate documents, may still require an Apostille Stamp.

For further information, see:

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What is the Vienna Convention on the Issue of Multilingual Extracts from Civil Status Records?

The Vienna Convention applies to civil status certificates (birth, marriage and death certificates) issued and submitted in the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cape Verde, Estonia, France, Germany Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey.

As long as the certificate is issued in accordance with the conventions of the International Commission on Civil and Civil Status (Multilingual Extracts), an Apostille Stamp should not be required.

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What is the Munich CIEC Convention on certificates of no impediment?

Under the Munich CIEC Convention, multilingual certificates of no impediment to marriage do not require an Apostille Stamp when issued and submitted in the following countries:
Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey.

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How can I get a quote to certify my documents?

To receive a quote, you can upload your documents using our online quotation form or send us your documents by email. After reviewing your documents and requirements, we will get back to you with a quotation:

If you don’t have the documents available, just describe the documents you need to certify, and we will get back to you with an estimation of cost and delivery times.

Using our quotation form, your documents will be uploaded over a secure connection and immediately encrypted on our server. For added protection, you can upload password-protected files ( PDFExternal link (opens in new tab), Microsoft Office 365: Save a password protected document to prevent unauthorized people from opening it. Office DocumentsExternal link (opens in new tab), WinRAR Encryption Frequently asked question (FAQ) RAR foldersExternal link (opens in new tab)) and provide us with the passwords separately.

PERSONAL DATA: If your documents contain personal data belonging to people outside your household, please ensure that you are authorised to share this data before uploading your documents. If your documents contain sensitive personal data, such as biometric data, medical data or data on criminal convictions, please ensure that you indicate this when prompted, upon submitting your documents. For further information on our processing of personal data contained in uploaded documents, please see:
Privacy Policy (Customer Inquiries)

For further information on confidentiality in our handling of document content please see:
Confidentiality (Client Content)

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