We process thousands of documents of year ranging from Powers of Attorney to birth certificates and everything in between. There is one question we are nearly always asked, “will my original document be legalised or can you process a copy?” and the answer is nearly always, “that depends”.
Apostille certificates can be issued on original documents or on a certified copy of a document. Many government documents are legalised as originals while others must be copies. The country requesting the apostille may also have a preference on how you submit your document.
Documents that must be originals
Certain documents must always processed as originals. The government’s rules do not allow photocopies to be issued with the apostille. Even if a copy is signed by a solicitor or a notary public copies are not processed. This applies to birth, marriage and death certificates that can only be legalised using the original document or an official registry issued copy. Criminal record checks and medical notes are also issued with the apostille on the original certificate.
Documents that can be legalised as copies or originals
The majority of documents we legalise can be processed as originals or certified copies. If you are not sure if a certified copy of a document will be accepted we recommend you seek advice from the authority requesting the apostille. In general we tend to produce certified copies of degree certificates and other academic qualifications whereas a letter confirming study is often legalised as an original. However, there are exceptions. For example, Columbia normally request original degree certificates are legalised and some organisations in the UAE and Azerbaijan are now expecting original documents to have the apostille.
Documents that are always processed as copies.
A small selection of documents can only be legalised using copies that are certified by a solicitor or notary public. Producing a certified copy prevents the original government documents from being damaged or defaced. Examples of this include passports, driving licences, residency papers and immigration documents.
If your documents need to be copied and certified by a solicitor our fully inclusive apostille service includes all charges and solicitor fees. We will produce a copy of your documents, get one of our solicitors to check and sign the document correctly and then ensure the apostille is obtained within 24 hours.
This information is provided for information only. The rules on legalising copies of documents changes from time to time. For the latest information please get in touch.