Apostille (pronounced ah-po-steel) is apparently a French word that translates to certification. Not sure what an apostille certificate is? Here is a look at why these certificates are so important and when you would need to use them!
An apostille certificate is a specialised certificate attached to your original documents to verify their legitimacy and authenticity so they can be used for legal purposes in member countries of the Hague Convention (nicknamed the Apostille Convention for our purposes). The Apostille Convention created a simplified method of legalising documents for universal recognition. If you plan on using your documents in countries that are members of the Apostille Convention, an apostille can be done on most documents without the need for notarisation.
If your documents are destined to be used in a member country of the Convention, this simplified certification method can be used to validate the details on your documents. Most countries work with apostilles, but there are some that don’t (such as China), where the certification (called authentication or attestation) is done at those countries’ embassies.
What is a South African Apostille Certificate?
South African apostille certificates authenticate South African documents and validate their legal use outside of the Republic of South Africa. In South Africa, The Legalisation Sector and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is responsible for issuing apostilles. Although there is a DIRCO office based in Cape Town, apostilles are only issued at the DIRCO head office, which is based in Pretoria/Tshwane.
Keep in mind that apostilles are extra pages that are attached to your original documents. If your documents need to be translated by a sworn translator, there will also be charges for having the document’s apostille translated.
Do documents have to be notarised and get an apostille certificate?
In some instances, it will be necessary to have your documents notarised before they can be apostilled.
The signature of a notary public (specialist attorney) is required to authenticate documents as valid and accurate. Notarisation is just another method of authenticating documents for legal use abroad and forms part of a multi-step process when legalising documents for use in countries that are not Apostille Convention members.
When apostilling notarised documents, the High Court first apostilles the notary’s stamp and signature on the document. Thereafter some countries want DIRCO to apostille the High Court registrar’s stamp and signature as well.
What documents have to require an apostille certificate?
Any document you intend on using for leisure or business travel may need to be apostilled if you are travelling to a member country of the Hague Convention. This includes documents such as:
Documents that often have to be apostillised at DIRCO include:
Home Affairs documents and Police Clearances:
• Police Clearance Certificates (we can obtain this for you, fast, see pricing)
• Birth Certificates (we can obtain this for you, see pricing)
• Marriage Certificates (we can obtain this for you, see pricing)
• Death Certificates (we can obtain this for you, see pricing)
• Letter of No Impediment to be married abroad (we can obtain this for you, see pricing)
Academic documents first go to SAQA:
• SA Degree and Diploma certificates (SA degrees must first go to the SAQA)
• TEFL certificates (first have to be notarised, then apostillised at the High Court)
• Foreign degrees (first have to be notarised, then apostillised at the High Court)
• Other academic Apostilles
Health documents first go to the HPCSA:
• SA Health certificates (we can assist at the HPCSA)
Other documents that are usually notarised or High Court apostillised:
• Divorce Decrees (we can obtain this for you, see pricing)
• Background Check
• Single Status Affidavit
• Power of Attorney
• Copy of Passport
• Copy of Driver’s License
• Authorisation Letter
• Travel Consent Letter
• Articles of Incorporation
• Certificate of Good Standing
• Certification of Free Sale
• Certification of Origin
• Corporate Power of Attorney
• Commercial Invoice
How long does it take to have documents apostilled?
Going at the process alone can be timely and cause delays that you might not be able to afford. In general, it takes weeks (and even up to months) to get your original documents apostilled for use abroad. Apostil.co.za provides an express service that have your documents apostilled in as little as seven days (excluding courier times).
Need assistance with apostilles?
Apostil.co.za specialises in providing assistance with document legalisation. We can help you get your documents apostilled in the fastest time possible. Our service is fast, convenient, and saves you time. For more details on pricing and turnaround times, please get in touch with our team today!