Legalising official documents and end-user certificates (Authentication of Official Documents)

Consular notarial services are rendered to South African citizens and foreign nationals requiring South African official (public) documents to be legalised for use abroad.  These services are rendered to provide legal validity to South African official (public) documents to enable a person to use the documents outside the Republic of South Africa. Legalising documents means that official (public) documents executed within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa are affixed, sealed and signed either with an Apostille Certificate (where countries are signatory to the Apostille Convention) or with a Certificate of Authentication (where countries are not signatory to the Apostille Convention).

Legalisation therefore basically means the process followed by which the signature and seal on an official (public) document is verified.

Note:  The full description of the Apostille Convention is The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents).  Please visit The Hague Conference on Private International Law – for further information on signatory countries.

Note:  South African diplomatic or consular representatives abroad can legalise official documents only if these were legalised by the relevant foreign competent authority in their country of accreditation, for use within South Africa.  South African diplomatic or consular representatives abroad cannot issue Apostille Certificates, only Certificates of Authentication.

We provide the following service:

  • We Legalise official (public) documents executed within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa by means of an Apostille Certificate or a Certificate of Authentication.
  • Provides customers with guidelines to obtain the correct signatures/documents, if documents submitted are incorrect or incomplete.
  • Provides customers with information by telephone, mail and e-mail.

Prerequisite to request for consular notarial services
The document to be legalised is determined by the customer.  We are not able to advise customers as what documents they need to submit for i.e. foreign work/residence permits; application for foreign citizenship or registration of birth; or to obtain a foreign passport, etc.  Customers are therefore advised to contact the foreign representative in South Africa of the country in which the document will be used directly to determine what documents they will need to submit and which documentation will be required for legalisation purposes and what their countries specific requirements are, etc.

Apostille Certificate or the Certificate of Authentication subject to the following rules:

  • The customer needs to advise us of the country in which the document will be used to enable us to determine if an Apostille Certificate or Certificate of Authentication is required.
  • The period of validity of the document has not expired.
  • Refer below for the relevant important notes for additional guidance and information on the various different types of documentation.
  • All foreign documentation must be legalised from the country of origin.

The following types original official (public) documents can be submitted directly to for Legalisation, provided the documents were signed and stamped by the relevant issuing authority, as listed below:

  • The original unabridged or full birth, marriage and/or death certificates; original (valid) letters of no impediment (marital status); letter confirming an individual’s citizenship status (letters confirming naturalization) and renunciation letters as issued and duly signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official.  (Refer to the “important notes” below for further guidance and information pertaining to these types of civic documentation.)
  • The original (valid) Police Clearance Certificate is issued, signed and stamped by the South African Police Service (SAPS) – Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management [previously referred to as the Criminal Record Centre (CRC)].  (Note:  A Police Clearance Certificate is only valid for six (6) months from date of issue.
  • The original adoption papers signed and stamped by the relevant Presiding Officer / Commissioner of Child Welfare of the Children’s Court (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development) or the Registrar of Adoptions at the Department of Social Development.
  • Original Confirmation Letters as issued (stamped and signed) by the Department of Transport – Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) confirming that the applicant holds a valid driver’s licence.  (Note: The Legalisation Section cannot legalise the actual driver’s licences.).

(If the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.)

Important notes (pertaining to the types of official (public) documentation that may be submitted directly to the Legalisation Section)

  • The following documents are not accepted by legalization authorities, i.e. abridged certificates or computer printouts (in other words a shortened version of the unabridged certificate). The reason for this is that an abridged certificate is simply a computer printout and it does not contain the signature and stamp of the issuing authority.
  • The marriage certificate as issued by the marriage officer will not be          accepted for legalisation purposes. If you wish the marriage certificate to be legalised, then the original unabridged marriage certificate, as obtainable from the Department of Home Affairs will be required.
  • The Legalisation Section does not accept certified copies of i.e. birth, marriage, death certificates; police clearance certificates; letters of no impediment (marital status); proof of citizenship; travel documents or identity documents, etc. The Legalization authorities also do not accept documents which were certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths.
  • “Old” documentation:  Please take note that although the original document is an original and valid document, the signature of the official (or employee) who originally issued and signed the document might not be available on the DIRCO – Legalization authorities signature database, neither be obtainable from the specific government Department, as the official (or employee) who originally issued and signed the document is no longer employed at the specific Department, which makes it impossible for the Legalization authorities to legalise the “old” document at such a late          stage. Therefore, it is advisable that the document should preferably not be older than one (1) year. The Legalization authorities furthermore recommend that customers must also verify with the relevant foreign representative in South Africa what their specific country requirements are.
  • Letter of No Impediments (marital status) can be legalised if on an original, official Home Affairs letterhead, signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official (Head Office only).  (These documents are only valid for a period of six (6) months from the date of issue.)  Important:  The Department of Home Affairs confirmed that the Letter of No Impediments (marital status) are issued, stamped and signed by the authorised official at Head Office of the Department of Home Affairs only.  Letters, as issued by the Regional Home Affairs offices, will not be accepted for legalisation purposes, as these were issued without an authorisation.

Note:  Documents which has been laminated will not be accepted for legalisation purposes.

Documents we frequently legalise with an Apostille Certificate

Here is a list of Popular South-African Public Documents that we legalise daily:

  • Permission letter for minor children to travel or visit overseas;
  • Powers of Attorney;
  • University degrees, University Academic Transcripts;
  • College diploma;
  • Technical Diploma;
  • Matric Certificate;
  • School certificate;
  • Doctor, Dentist applications for overseas appointments;
  • HPCSA applications South-Africa;
  • Birth Certificates;
  • Death Certificate;
  • Marriage Certificate;
  • Divorce Certificates;
  • Company Incorporation Documentation;
  • Close Corporation Documentation;
  • Marital status documents;
  • Letters of No Impediment;
  • Land Transfer and Mortgage documents for transactions outside SA borders;
  • Notarized copy of Passport, Driver’s License and other identity documents;
  • Police Clearance Certificate (“no criminal record”) issued by South African Police Services;
  • Applications for employment overseas with supplementary documentation; Contracts;
  • Affidavits;
  • Declarations;
  • Permission for a minor child to travel with one parent or unattended;
  • Notarized Copies of Document;
  • Applications for employment overseas;
  • Miscellaneous notarised documents for use overseas.

.NOTE: All documents must be translated into Portuguese before submitting them for attestation or visa application with most Portuguese speaking countries (e.g.,) Angola, Mozambique, Portuguese, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Brazil, Timor-Leste Ts & Cs Apply