The Legalisation Section of DIRCO, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, is responsible for apostilling South African documents. Apostilles are extra certificates attached to original documents and serve as an authenticator that the stamp and seal on a South African document are verified and accurate. South Africans traveling abroad are often required to legalise their documents for official use abroad. And this is why documents are apostilled. However, there are some strict requirements that documents must comply with in order to be accepted by DIRCO.
In this post, we will take a look at the documents that the Legalisation Section of DIRCO does not accept.
Documents not accepted by DIRCO Legalisation Section
The Legalisation Section of DIRCO does not accept abridged certificates and computer printouts. These include any shortened versions of the original, extended (unabridged) certificate. DIRCO does not accept these since they do not feature any stamps or signatures of the issuing authority.
Marriage Certificates issued by a Marriage Officer
DIRCO’s legalisation section doesn’t accept the original, hand-written marriage certificate that a marriage officer completes on the day of the wedding. In order to legalise your marriage certificate for use outside of South Africa, you need to submit your original unabridged marriage certificate to DIRCO. This certificate is obtainable from the Department of Home Affairs.
Certified copies of documents
DIRCO will not accept certified copies of any of the following:
- Death certificate
- Police Clearance Certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Letter of No Impediment
- Proof of Citizenship
- Travel documents
- Identity documents
- Documents certified as true copies by a Commissioner of Oaths
Documents older than 1 year
Although documents never actually expire, the stamp and signature on these documents can. It is the responsibility of the Legalisation Section to authenticate and verify the stamp and signature on a document, and not the contents on that document. The Legalisation Section, therefore, recommends not using documents older than 1 year to ensure that the signature on the document is discoverable within the department’s database.
In Apostil.co.za’s experience, documents older than 1 year can certainly be apostilled or authenticated, in fact even those up to 10 years, while possibly problematic, can be done. Certainly those older than 20 years have a very low possibility of acquiring an apostille from DIRCO. Thus, in conclusion, the older the document, the higher the chance that the stamp and signature will not the recognised (e.g. the person who signed no longer is a government official, etc.).
The Legalisation Section of DIRCO does not accept any laminated documents. If you wish to laminate any documents, it’s advisable to make copies of the original document and laminate the copy instead.
Need assistance with your documents?
DIRCO has dramatically slowed down its service levels over the past two years (mainly due to closures from COVID, loadshedding, etc.). It currently (September 2022) takes 4-8 weeks to process an apostille that used to take 1-2 days in 2019.
As of Friday, 14 May 2021, DIRCO does not accept requests for personal submissions/walk-in customers. In other words, one cannot enter DIRCO as a member of the public and must use a courier service/agency such as Apostil.co.za. One cannot apply for an appointment to submit documents, only to collect them.
Apostil.co.za is a confirmed as a courier/agency with DIRCO, able to make appointments to apply and collect documentation. This enables us to apply and retrieve documents on your behalf. We also aim to have your documents returned to you as soon as possible. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your document needs.