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Authentication of Documents


Documents for use in a country outside of South Africa must be authenticated in order to provide legal validity to the South African documents and the country you intend to use the documents in will determine the nature of the authentication process to follow.

If the country for which the documents are intended is a party to the Hague Convention (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents), the procedure is simplified. The documents are taken to a Notary Public and signed in his/her presence. The Notary attaches an authentication certificate to the documents and seals and signs them. The documents are then taken to the High Court and an Apostille is attached thereto. An Apostille is a certificate issued by the High Court of South Africa whereby the Court confirms the authenticity of the Notary Public who authenticated the relevant documents and verifies his/her signature. The Department of International Relations and Co-Operation in Pretoria can also issue an Apostille.

If the country for which the documents are intended is not a party to the Hague Convention, then the procedure is more complicated. The documents are taken to a Notary Public and signed in his/her presence. The Notary attaches an authentication certificate to the documents and seals and signs them. The documents are taken to the High Court and a Certificate of Authentication (not an Apostille) is attached thereto. The documents are then sent to the Legalisation Section at the Department of International Relations and Co-Operation in Pretoria where the documents are legalized. Thereafter the documents are taken to the Embassy or Consulate of the country for which the documents are intended for their final authentication.

The person or company in the country requiring the documents may not require a full authentication as per the above, therefore it is adviseable to confirm with that person or company.


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