APOSTILLES: There is a way to get certain official UK public documents ‘legalised’. In simple terms, did a public official issue it.
There are several reasons why you might need to get your document legalised. But, the most common is to meet certain overseas legalities if you are living abroad.
An official in another country might ask you to provide them with a UK document. They might also insist that your document needs legalising.
The UK Legalisation Office operates the service. You can ask them to confirm whether a signature, a stamp, or a seal is genuine.
After checking the document, the Legalisation Office will legalise it. They will attach a stamped official certificate (called an Apostille). You can also verify an Apostille certificate if it got issued in the United Kingdom.
Note: The documentation legalisation service only works for those issued in the United Kingdom. You must get any documents issued abroad legalised in the same country that issued them.
What You Need to Use the Service
- The document that you want to legalise.
- A method of payment (e.g. a credit or a debit card).
- Access to a printing machine.
- An address for getting your documents returned.
Note: When you get a document legalised you can choose between the standard and the premium service. The application will time out after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Extra Information on Legalising a Document
Printed PDFs (and electronic documents)
It is possible to get a printed copy of a PDF legalised. The PDF, or any other types of electronic documents, would need (either):
- To contain the original ink signature or the seal of the person or the organisation that issued it.
- To have been certified already either by a United Kingdom notary public or a solicitor.
The Cost to Legalise a Document
There are two rates. Using the standard service will cost £30 per document (plus courier fees or postage). The premium same-day service is only for businesses and it costs £75 per document.
- £5.00 per 1.5kg: United Kingdom (includes British Forces Post Office).
- £17.50 per 1.5kg: European countries (excludes Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Liechtenstein, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine).
- £22.50 per 1.5kg: Elsewhere around the world.
In some cases, you can avoid paying courier fees. They will return documents using postal methods if it is inside the United Kingdom.
Note: You would need to supply an A4-sized envelope that has the return address written on it. Remember to cover the return postage by attaching enough UK postage stamps.
Processing Time for Documents
As a rule, the standard service takes two (2) working days to process. You need to add on extra time for a courier or for postage time. The peak period runs from March to August when processing times can take up to five (5) working days.
Premium Same-day Business Service
You must take and collect your documents from their office in central London to use the premium service (£75 per document). Existing users can sign in to their account or you can create a new account.
Contacting the Legalisation Office
If you need some extra help with an application you can contact the Legalisation Office.