How to Apostille a Document in the UK

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In our previous article, we outlined information on how to apostille a document in Canada.

In this post, we’ll hop across the Atlantic Ocean to explore what is needed to apostille a document in the UK.

Have you been gathering information on how to apostille in the UK?

If so, keep reading to find out what else you’ll need for this process.

If you need to Apostille a birth certificate for your passport application, we’ll go over what steps to take.

Perhaps you require an Apostille for your university transcript? Our guide helps walk you through it.

Firstly, let’s begin with a quick refresh!

What Is an Apostille?

Apostilles are certificates that authenticate documents for use abroad.

In countries that aren’t members of the Hague Convention, the process may be referred to as legalization or authentication.

Occasionally, the term legalization is interchangeable with authentication.

Both terms refer to the process by which documents can be legally recognized as authentic in other countries.

However, in the UK specifically, the terms legalization and apostille are used interchangeably.

Legalization is simply the process by which a document receives an attached Apostille!

Which Documents Can You Apostille in the UK?

Looking to apostille your UK degree? Or perhaps a birth certificate?

A variety of documents might require an Apostille for use abroad!

Documents that might receive an apostille in England include:

  • Passports
  • Driving licenses
  • Power of attorney documents
  • Qualification certificates

For example, if you’re in the process of applying for your passport in the UK, your birth certificate will require an Apostille stamp.

Where in the UK Can You Get an Apostille?

To receive an Apostille in the UK, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office must issue it.

The process begins with submitting documents to the Legalization Office either online or through the post.

In addition, some people may choose to utilize a third-party vendor to complete the process.

We’ll go over all three options below on how to apostille a document in the UK.

How to Apostille a Document in the UK

The first step of the process will be to confirm certain items with the entity requesting the apostille, e.g.:

  • Do they require the original documents?
  • Will they need certified copies?
  • Do the documents need a notary or solicitor’s signature?

From there, you will want to confirm whether the entity requires a paper-based or an e-Apostille.

Apostille Types

There are two apostille types: electronic and paper based.

The electronic form of an Apostille is called an e-Apostille.

However, an e-Apostille is not an option for certain documents such as:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Adoption certificates
  • Fingerprint certificates

Both filing types will typically cost £30 per apostille.

Keep in mind, if you utilize the standard service, you may have to pay additional costs to have your documents returned to you.

Per the UK government website, the following countries do not allow for the return of legalized documents, i.e.:

  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Belarus

Apostille at the United Kingdom – Competent Authorities

legalisation office uk

Various legalization services exist in the UK to help with legalizing UK documents for use abroad.

However, for issuing Apostilles, the primary authority in the UK is the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

This is the competent authority that will complete the apostille for you.

The application process will include the documents you need to legalize and a payment for associated fees.

For those who wish to use third-party legalization services, the process is straightforward.

The Office provides a list of next-day providers who complete the process for you.

The list of providers can be found online at the official website.

One reason for using a third-party provider may relate to processing times.

Some third-party providers provide next-day legalization services.

This is helpful for those who require an urgent Apostille stamp on their document.

Additionally, some people may want to ensure documents receive the appropriate signatures from solicitors where necessary.

They will ensure efficient and correct processing of documents.

Third-party providers take care of this, saving you time and stress.

Steps and Timeline to Apostille a Document in Great Britain

The steps for legalizing your document are fairly simple.

For paper-based services, you will send your signed documents by either courier or through the post.

For example, if you need to apostille your academic transcript, you first want to confirm the document’s format you will be submitting. E.g.:

  • Original certificate
  • Certificate copy
  • Printout of an electronic certificate

From there, you will want to confirm your transcript has been certified by a UK solicitor or notary public.

Next, simply fill in your basic information such as name and address on the government website.

Any paper-based documents will be returned to you at the address specified on your application.

You will receive documents returned to you with the appropriate paper Apostilles.

Upon receipt of your Apostilled documents, you will then send your documentation to the appropriate requesting authority.

This can be done via courier or through the post.

For electronic apostille services, the appropriate documents will be uploaded electronically in PDF format.

In order to submit a document electronically, you must create an account on the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.

Upon completion, you will be able to download the legalized documents.

You can share these versions by email with the appropriate requesting authority.

To confirm whether the document you want to have Apostilled is eligible for an e-Apostille, you can check online.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office provides an extensive list you can refer to.

Always keep in mind to confirm with your intended recipient whether or not they will accept digital downloads completed through the e-Apostille process.

If you will be legalizing more than one document, you will want to confirm whether the intended recipient will require separate electronic apostilles for each document.

Apostille UK: Timeline

After you submit the application for processing, the general timeline for approval depends on the document and method of filing.

For standard, paper-based filings, the time frame may take up to 5 business days.

An electronic Apostille may take up to 2 business days.

If using a registered legalization service, the filing of documents can be completed day-of in central London.

In this situation, the time frames for filing take place between 9am to 12:30pm.

However, keep in mind time frames vary. Some documents may need additional verification.

If you require an urgent apostille, it may be helpful to utilize a third-party provider from the list above.

Reminders for a British Apostille

apostille England

Lastly, some quick reminders before you begin the process for a British apostille!

Check whether the authority requesting your documents requires a paper or electronic apostille.

In addition, confirm whether they will need one apostille for a number of documents.

Or, whether each document requires separate apostilles.

Additionally, have your fees ready for payment.

When applying for a paper-based apostille, the government website provides you with the appropriate options for document submission.

From there, send your documents to the legalisation office UK and you’re ready to go!

If the competent authority finds that your document does not receive legalization, you will receive a refund on your submission fees.

If you have the Apostille date and number, you can complete a verification of an Apostille certificate online.

Simply have your recipient check through the Legalization Office website.

Getting Documents Apostilled UK

No need to go searching for ‘Apostille online UK’ or ‘Apostille gov UK’.

The online website for the Legalization Office makes it straightforward for anyone looking to apostille a document in the UK.

However, if you have any lingering questions, we hope you can refer to this guide when starting your Apostille process.

If you’re ready to submit a document for an Apostille, you can also reach out to our team at Go! Go! España for additional help.

We know the ins and outs of document processing for life abroad.

Above all, we’re here to help make sure the process for receiving your British Apostille is stress free!

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