Why an Apostille Certificate?

Prior to the introduction of Apostille Certificates, the burden on international governments, Courts and businesses to ascertain whether foreign public documents were authentic or not, was quite onerous.

The Hague Convention abolished the requirement of formal legalisation of foreign public documents to prevent these difficult appraisals having to be made.

The Convention reduced all of the formalities of legalisation to the simple delivery of a Certificate in a prescribed form, entitled "Apostille", to be issued by the appropriate government department of any country ratifying the Convention.

Whilst most countries have embraced the Convention, many have still to adopt it.

The Hague Convention's full title, which speaks for itself, is... The CONVENTION ABOLISHING THE REQUIREMENT OF LEGALISATION FOR FOREIGN PUBLIC DOCUMENTS, and was concluded on October 5, 1961.

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A             An Apostille only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document

The effect of an Apostille is limited. It only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document. It does so by certifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity in which the person signing the document acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears (Art. 5(2)). The limited effect of an Apostille has been confirmed by the Special Commission

B             An Apostille does not certify the content of the underlying public document

An Apostille does not relate in any way to the content of the underlying public document. While the public nature of the document itself may imply that its content is true and correct, an Apostille does not enhance, or add any legal significance to, the legal effect that the signature and/or seal would produce without an Apostille. In this regard, the Special Commission recommends that Competent Authorities include a notice about the limited effect of the Apostille
 

C              An Apostille does not certify that all requirements of domestic law for proper execution of the underlying public document are met.

 An Apostille does not certify that a public document was executed in accordance with all requirements of domestic law. It is for domestic law to determine whether defects invalidate the public nature of a document and to what degree a Competent Authority is responsible for scrutinising documents for such defects.

For example, domestic law may or may not require a Competent Authority to scrutinise whether a notary is authorised under domestic law to execute the particular notarial act or notarial certificate in question. The Convention certainly imposes no obligation upon a Competent Authority to do so. Because an Apostille does not have any legal effect beyond certifying the origin of the underlying public document, its issuance for a document does not cure any such defects.

 D             An Apostille does not affect the acceptance, admissibility or probative value of the underlying public document

The Apostille Convention does not affect the right of the State of destination to determine the acceptance, admissibility and probative value of foreign public. In particular, the authorities in the State of destination may determine whether a document has been forged or altered, or whether it has been validly executed. They may also establish time limits on the acceptance of foreign public documents (e.g. the document must be produced within a certain period of time after its execution), even though such limits cannot be imposed on the acceptance of the Apostille itself. Furthermore, it remains for the laws of evidence of the State of destination to determine the extent to which a foreign public document may be used to establish a certain fact.

 E              The effect of an Apostille does not expire

The Convention does not place any time limitation on the effect of an Apostille. A validly issued Apostille therefore has effect for as long as it is identifiable and remains attached to the underlying public document. Accordingly, an Apostille may not be rejected solely on the basis of its age. However, this does not prevent authorities in the State of destination, on the basis of their domestic law, from establishing time limits on the acceptance of the underlying public document (e.g., requesting that a criminal record be executed within a certain maximum time

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List of popular documents frequently legalised with Apostille Certificate for use outside the borders of South-Africa

 

 Virtually any South-African public document can be legalised by either an Apostille Certificate or Authentication process.

 

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

 

  •  Permission letter for minor children to travel or visit overseas;
  • Powers of Attorney;
  • University degrees, University Academic Transcripts;
  • College diploma;
  • Technicon 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;
  • Notarised copy of Passport, Drivers 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 minor child to travel with one parent or unattended;
  • Notarised Copies of Document;
  • Applications for employment overseas;
  • Miscellaneous notarised documents for use overseas.

 This list is not exhaustive. If you have a document not listed above which you require apostilled, contact us to make inquiries or get a quotation. Should you have any questions regarding our services, need a quotation or want to proceed with legalising your documents please contact us or visit our offices.

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A             An Apostille only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document

The effect of an Apostille is limited. It only authenticates the origin of the underlying public document. It does so by certifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity in which the person signing the document acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears (Art. 5(2)). The limited effect of an Apostille has been confirmed by the Special Commission

B             An Apostille does not certify the content of the underlying public document

An Apostille does not relate in any way to the content of the underlying public document. While the public nature of the document itself may imply that its content is true and correct, an Apostille does not enhance, or add any legal significance to, the legal effect that the signature and/or seal would produce without an Apostille. In this regard, the Special Commission recommends that Competent Authorities include a notice about the limited effect of the Apostille
 

C              An Apostille does not certify that all requirements of domestic law for proper execution of the underlying public document are met.

 An Apostille does not certify that a public document was executed in accordance with all requirements of domestic law. It is for domestic law to determine whether defects invalidate the public nature of a document and to what degree a Competent Authority is responsible for scrutinising documents for such defects.

For example, domestic law may or may not require a Competent Authority to scrutinise whether a notary is authorised under domestic law to execute the particular notarial act or notarial certificate in question. The Convention certainly imposes no obligation upon a Competent Authority to do so. Because an Apostille does not have any legal effect beyond certifying the origin of the underlying public document, its issuance for a document does not cure any such defects.

 D             An Apostille does not affect the acceptance, admissibility or probative value of the underlying public document

The Apostille Convention does not affect the right of the State of destination to determine the acceptance, admissibility and probative value of foreign public. In particular, the authorities in the State of destination may determine whether a document has been forged or altered, or whether it has been validly executed. They may also establish time limits on the acceptance of foreign public documents (e.g. the document must be produced within a certain period of time after its execution), even though such limits cannot be imposed on the acceptance of the Apostille itself. Furthermore, it remains for the laws of evidence of the State of destination to determine the extent to which a foreign public document may be used to establish a certain fact.

 E              The effect of an Apostille does not expire

The Convention does not place any time limitation on the effect of an Apostille. A validly issued Apostille therefore has effect for as long as it is identifiable and remains attached to the underlying public document. Accordingly, an Apostille may not be rejected solely on the basis of its age. However, this does not prevent authorities in the State of destination, on the basis of their domestic law, from establishing time limits on the acceptance of the underlying public document (e.g., requesting that a criminal record be executed within a certain maximum time

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We pay attention to our clients. We are well aware that the whole document legalisation process may become very confusing. Our dedicated team is in constant contact with our customers to ensure peace of mind, with updates provided throughout the process. Do you want to know more about what our clients are saying? See their testimonials.

Knowledgeable and experienced staff
We have literally assisted thousands of clients over the years with their document legalisation needs. We are one of the few attorney firms in South-Africa that specialises in apostille, notarisation, authentication and legalising of documentation for use outside the borders of South-Africa. Backed by our 100% authentication service guarantee.

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Our services are provided from our secure commercial office. As an Attorney and Notary lawfirm we understand the concept of utmost confidentiality. We process all facets of the legalisation process in-house and personally. We do not use any agents or third parties in the legalisation process. We have a very strict privacy policy.

Process friendly company
We understand the legalisation process can be confusing and stressful. We strive to be a process friendly company, clarifying and streamlining the process for you. This ensures that your document meets the requirements and is processed on time and within budget. If unsure ask and ask. We will take time to take you through the process.

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