If you need to present a UK-Issued document to an overseas authority, it will need to be authenticated first. This is known as an Apostille Stamp. For Apostille services please select your requirements below.
An Apostille stamp is a form of authentication added to documents to allow them to be used in member countries of the Hague Convention, and are usually requested by foreign governments to assert that a document is genuine. It is sometimes known as an FCO Apostille, as the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) is the governmental body that issues them within the UK.
Once an Apostille stamp is added to a document, it becomes valid for use in any country that is a member of the Hague Convention.
Which countries will accept a UK or Republic of Ireland Apostille without further consular legalisation?
The following countries are currently a part of the Apostille agreement in the Hague Convention; if the country is not listed here, it's likely you will require further legalisation after Apostille. Please check out our Legalisation section to find out more.
What does an Apostille look like?
Although Apostilles contain the same 10 points of information, regardless of their country of issue, their appearance does differ slightly. Some member states apply an Apostille as a stamp to the back of the document and fill in the information by hand, followed by an official seal. Others such as the UK, affix the Apostille as a small certificate to the reverse of the document.
Apostilles are always issued in the official language of the origin country. However, the 10 points of information are universal across all Apostilles, to ensure anyone can identify the information they require, regardless of language.
In the UK, to ensure an Apostille isn't removed from one document and applied to another, the Apostille and document are embossed together by the FCO. They also contain a unique serial number, which can be verified on the official site of the issuing government.
Examples of Apostilles from the UK, Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina
How long is an Apostille stamp valid for?
The validity of an Apostille depends on where you intend to use it. Technically, an Apostille never expires once issued, however there are some situations which can change this.
For example, if you have an Apostilled document and later decide to move to certain countries outside of the Hague Convention, you will be required to re-process this stage. One example of this is China, where any paperwork you present for your Work Permit application must have been Apostilled within the last 6 months.
Therefore, the Apostille itself hasn't technically expired, but the document itself is not fit for purpose for use overseas in this instance. Therefore, with so many variables, we always recommend you check the requirements on a case by case basis to avoid any delays or lost fees by processing a document erroneously.
How can I get an Apostille?
If the country in which you wish to use your UK or Irish document is listed above, you will only require an Apostille for legalisation. You can get your document legalised by placing an order for our UK Apostille Service here, or an Irish Apostille Service here.
Dependent on the destination country and the institution to which you are submitting the document, you may also require translation. We can also provide this service if required. Get in touch for a quotation here.
NOTE: Please be aware that ACCA Certificates require the work to be done on the original document, so a certified copy can not be made.