Apostille Legalisation Services London & UK (Hague Apostille) - Westminster Legalisation

Apostille Legalisation

Registered FCDO Apostille Service

(also known as Hague Apostille)

We offer standard Apostille service by the FCDO (next-day service), the premium Apostille same-day service ( 5-6 hours service*) as well as the e-Apostille service ( 5-48 hours service) at competitive rates. We have daily trips to the Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes and are registered with the FCDO to provide Apostille services.

Apostille legalisation

Standard Apostille

The best option for people that are looking for a cost effective and next-day Apostille Service.

Apostille legalisation

Premium Apostille

The fastest, but limited, Apostille Service. Documents are ready on the same-day (within 5-6 hours)

Apostille legalisation

e-Apostille

Fast electronic Apostille Service ready within 5-48 hours.

Need to get your documents Apostilled?

Contact us to receive a free consultation on what needs to be done to get the FCDO Apostille on your document(s).

Are you looking for Consular Legalisation?

Consult our Legalisation Guide to check the consular requirements to get your documents legalised for the country of destination.

What is an Apostille?

(ALSO KNOWN AS HAGUE APOSTILLE)

An Apostille (also known as Hague Apostille) is an official certificate issued in the United Kingdom by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) certifying/attesting public documents for use in another country, pursuant to the Hague Apostille Convention 1961. The Apostille is an abbreviated method of legalisation that certifies/attests to the Solicitor’s signature, Notary Public’s signature and seal OR a signature or seal from a UK government official/department such as from the Courts, HMRC, ACRO Criminal Records Office, NHS (Medical Practitioners), General Register Office (GRO) and Ministers of Religion (Church of England).

In summary, countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention 1961 (Convenzione dell’Aja/Convenção de Haia) have agreed to do away with the lengthy legalisation process via the foreign consulates and embassies and accept documents with the Apostille only as authentic for use in another Signatory country. An Apostille (Apostila dell’Aja/Apostila de Haia) in the UK is issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (“FCDO”) Legalisation Office, in Brazil is issued by the Notary Public Offices (Cartórios) and in Italy by the Prefectures of each Province. In most other foreign jurisdictions, the Apostille is issued by their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With an Apostille certification, a notarised/certified document is entitled to recognition in the country of intended use and there is no requirement for further certification or legalisation by the country of recordal’s nearest Embassy or Consulate in the United Kingdom if the exchange of public documents are between the Hague Convention member states.

The Hague Convention 1961


The purpose of the Convention is to abolish the requirement of diplomatic and consular legalisation for public documents originating in one Convention country and intended for use in another.

Documents issued in a Convention country which have been certified by a Convention Apostille are entitled to recognition in any other Convention country without any further authentication/legalisation. Such recognition is an obligation on the part of one country to another country party to the Convention and the courts and authorities have been alerted to this obligation.

Consular officials in Convention countries are prohibited from placing a certification over the Convention Apostille, although, some foreign consulates still do. Please see a list of the countries which are signatories to the Hague Convention and require Apostille only as the method of legalisation. 

Apostille Processing

We are registered with the UK FCDO to provide the Hague Apostille legalisation and have daily trips to the Legalisation Office branch in Milton Keynes (the only Legalisation Office available in the UK) for the next-day and same-day Apostille (paper-based) services as well as the e-Apostille service including the digital notarisation as required by the FCDO for the e-Apostille. 

The processing time for the premium Apostille same-day service is usually within 5-6 hours if the documentation is received by 10:00 am and for the standard Apostille next-day service is guaranteed next-day service if the documentation is received in our office by 11:00 am. The e-Apostille service usually takes between 5-48 hours to be issued depending on the FCDO workload. 

The premium Apostille same-day service is a limited service provided by the FCDO for a few types of eligible documents only. The FCDO requires supportive documents confirming the urgency requirement and must receive the application for approval by 4:00 pm the day before submission for legalisation.

The electronic Apostille (e-Apostille) is a digital version of the traditional paper-based Apostille certificate. This innovation streamlines the process of authenticating documents for international use, significantly reducing the time and effort required.

For the e-Apostille, the documentation must be first certified by a UK practising solicitor or notary public bearing a digital signature that must be an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) or a Qualified Electronic Signature (QES). Simple digital signatures are not accepted for the e-Apostille legalisation. 

The FCDO can only issue an Apostille to an original foreign document IF the UK notary public/solicitor has verified the authenticity with the issuing foreign institution/authority overseas. The UK practising solicitor or notary public when certifying the foreign original document must provide a separate cover sheet certificate attached to the underlying foreign original document stating that the authenticity has been verified with the issuing authority abroad and the document is genuine and authentic.

Also, a document issued by the UK public departments as an electronic/PDF document must be certified by the UK practising solicitor or notary public as a ‘true copy of the original electronic/PDF document’, which is the suggested wording given by the Hague Convention authorities. This is required to avoid rejection by the UK FCDO.

***It is important to note that original documents signed/stamped/sealed by UK public department officials can only be Apostilled IF the UK public official’s specimen signature or seal (as applicable) is registered on the FCDO database.***

If the signature or seal is not registered, the FCDO will need to verify the official’s signature and/or seal with the relevant Public Department/Signatory (e.g. HMRC, ACRO Criminal Records Office,  GP Practice (Medical Practitioner), Court, DEFRA, Companies House, etc) to Apostille the document.

The signature verification process may take anything between 1-5 working days to be completed, depending on how fast the relevant public department/signatory responds to the FCDO request. This process must be performed independently between the FCDO Legalisation Office and the relevant public department/officials.

In case of a signature query for GRO certificates (birth, marriage, death certificates and Certificate of No Impediment), the FCDO will send an email to the Register Office to verify the Registrar’s signature for certificates issued within 6 months only. If the certificate is older than 6 months or issued by the Church (marriage certificates), they will be unable to verify the signature and require a new certified copy to be obtained from the General Register Office (GRO) or the document holder to take action with the Register Officer or the Church to request them to send the signature confirmation to the FCDO directly to be registered on their database and be able to Apostille the certificate. 

Upon completion by the FCDO, we can further process the documentation by the London and Arab-British Chambers of Commerce, Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in the UK, as applicable, and return the legalised documentation to the final destination or have it available for collection in person from our London Office.

Our usual practice is to provide a scanned copy of any legalised documentation along with the tracking details by e-mail before despatching the completed legalised documentation at no extra cost.

If you wish to find out more about how to process your documentation and fees, please contact us.

 

Are you looking for Country Requirements?

 

See our Legalisation Guide