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11 December 2018 You are not logged in. Login now.

What is an apostille?

what is the apostille certificateHaving worked hard to build your business outside of the UK in foreign markets you are suddenly asked to get an apostille on your company documents. You have never heard of the apostille service so how do you obtain one for your documents?

The apostille was introduce by the Hague Convention. In brief, the apostille certificate legalises documents for use abroad. The certificate is attached to documents that need to be presented in an official capacity in another country. Many people refer to the apostille as a way of ‘verifying’ documents. Whilst this is not technically correct it helps when explaining why apostilles are issued. Many international organisations will not accept a document as valid or official unless it has a UK government issued apostille stamp.

In the UK the apostille is a certificate that is also embossed with a seal (metal stamp) and is added to documents that are issued by government offices, or signed by a recognised authority. The documents stamp and/or signature is checked against a government database before the apostille is issued.

What does the apostille look like?

apostille certificateAcross all of the member states the apostille looks different. They all follow the same general format and layout but there is no single design. Some are certificates whilst others are large ink stamps.

The apostille contains 10 pieces of information.

1. Country of issue
2. Who has signed the document
3. The capacity in which the person signed the document
4. Details of any seal on the document
5. Place of issue
6. Date of issue
7. Issuing authority
8. Apostille Certificate number
9. Stamp of issuing authority
10. Signature of representative of issuing authority

In some cases items 2, 3 or 4 may not be detailed as some documents only have a stamp whilst other documents may only have a signature of a recognised official.

Some people argue that the apostille is bureaucratic and delays processing urgent documents. However, it is being requested more often and is essential in many circumstances when conducting business abroad. Legalising documents for use outside of the UK enables businesses to open bank accounts, register branches overseas, issue contracts, sign distributor agreements and supply good or services abroad.

There are many different company documents that can be legalised with the apostille. We assist customers to legalise their UK documents including official Companies House documents, certificates of good standing, company agreements, powers of attorney and company formation documents.

If you need any of your company documents legalised for use in any country contact SFS for a fast apostille service. We handle all documents securely, provide solicitor certification, and complete most orders in approximately 24 hours. Contact us today for free advice.