Apostille Frequently Asked Questions.
How to order our Apostille Certificate Services
Apostille is a French word (pronounced "ah-poh-steel"), meaning a certificate issued by a government of a country, authenticating the signature and or seal of a public official on a public document issued by that country, and intended for use in a foreign country.
South-African public, company, commercial or educational documents, including documents witnessed, certified and sealed by an South-African Notary Public, when affixed or attached with an Apostille Certificate issued by the South-African Government, will automatically be accepted for legal use in foreign countries signatories to the Hague Convention.
Apostille Certificates are restricted in their use to those countries which are signatories to The Hague Convention otherwise a full embassy or consulate legalisation procedure necessary.
The following countries recognise and issue Apostilles for the international legalisation of documents. These are collectively known as ‘member countries of the Hague Apostille Convention’.
Albania, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Anguila (UK), Aruba (NL), Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan
Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda (UK), Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, British Antarctic Territory (UK), British Virgin Islands (UK), Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Kingdom of Bahrain, Republic of Burundi, Brazil
Cayman Islands (UK), China (only special administrative regions of Hong Kong & Macao), Colombia, Cook Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech-Republic, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Curacao (NL), Caribbean part of the Netherlands (the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba)(NL), Chile
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Denmark
Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia
Falkland Islands (UK), Fiji, Finland, France
Germany, Gibraltar (UK), Greece, Grenada, Guernsey (Bailiwick of)(UK), Georgia
Iceland, Ireland (Northern), Isle of Man (UK), Israel, Italy, India
Japan, Jersey (UK)
Kazakhstan, Korea (South)(also called the republic of Korea), Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo
Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Macedonia (former Yugoslav Republic of), Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat (UK), Maldova Republic, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco
Namibia, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles (NL), New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Nicaragua
Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Poland, Peru
Romania, Russian Federation
Saint Lucia, Saint Helena (UK), Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent & The Gernadines, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Sae Tome & Principe, Sint Maarten (NL)
Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turks & Caicos Islands (UK), Republic of Tajikstan
Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Uruguay
How to order our Apostille or Legalisation Service
1. Personally Attend at our Offices-We have a Notary Public in attendance at our Pretoria office from 8.00 am to 15h30 pm Monday to Friday to notarise documents and to personally accept orders for all Apostille Certificates and Embassy legalisations. We accept online and mail orders for Apostille Certificates and Embassy legalisations from overseas clients, as well as from clients who may be located anywhere in South-Africa
2. Complete and submit ONLINE QUOTATION FORM-On acceptance of the quotation you may then either courier or express post your documents to us with copy of downloaded online order form, or attend our office to deliver to us. We also provide notary services if your document needs to be witnessed or attested by a NOTARY PUBLIC Your signature to an international document can only be witnessed or attested personally by a South-African Public Notary. Our most frequently requested documents for notarisation apostille and legalisation services are Birth, Death, Marriage, Single Status, and Divorce Certificates, Powers of Attorney, Police Clearance Certificates, notarised/certified copies of ID pages or Passports, parental consent for child to travel and notarised/certified/copies of educational documents.
We welcome instructions from anywhere in the world and we especially welcome orders from South-African “expats” requiring Apostille or legalisation services. Apostille Certificates are only issued in South-Africa and not from overseas South-African Embassies. We recommend that orders be delivered by express post via the South-African Postal Services Speed Courier Services or by reliable courier (especially if sent from overseas). See our postal and courier address below.
Our services are fast and confidential. We presently have a two (1) day turnaround time for issue of APOSTILLE CERTIFICATES (from date of receipt of your document at our office to return delivery). We are not a government department but a South-African Attorney and Notary firm who specialises in legalisation of international
documents. We attend to all your requirements on a personal basis and confidential basis.
If you are unsure whether you require an Apostille Certificate, Legalisation or a Embassy legalisation of your document Click here or contact us for an detailed explanation of the process, time frames and costs. If your requirements are complicated or you are experiencing difficulty in following the procedures outlined on this
web page, request assistance by contacting us.
Louwrens Koen Attorneys, 311 Eastwood Street Arcadia Gauteng Province South Africa
Legal effect of apostille certificate
The effect of an Apostille is limited. It only confirms the origin of the underlying public document. It does so by certifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity in which the person was signing the document acted and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp that the document bears (Art. 5(2)). The Special Commission has confirmed the limited effect of an Apostille
An Apostille does not certify the content of the underlying public document
An Apostille does not relate in any way to the substantiate the underlying public document. While the public nature of the document itself may imply that its content is accurate and correct, an Apostille does not enhance or add any legal significance to, the legal effect that the signature and seal would produce without an Apostille. In this regard, the Special Commission recommends that Competent Authorities include a notice about the limited impact of the Apostille
An Apostille does not certify that all requirements of domestic law for proper execution of the underlying public document are met.
An Apostille does not certify that a public document was executed in accordance with all requirements of domestic law. It is for domestic law to determine whether defects invalidate the public nature of a document and to what degree a Competent Authority is responsible for scrutinising documents for such defects.
For example, domestic law may or may not require a Competent Authority to scrutinise whether a notary is authorised under domestic law to execute the particular notarial act or notarial certificate in question. The Convention certainly imposes no obligation upon a Competent Authority to do so. Because an Apostille does not have any legal effect beyond certifying the origin of the underlying public document, its issuance of a document does not cure any such defects.
An Apostille does not affect the acceptance, admissibility or probative value of the underlying public document
The Apostille Convention does not affect the right of the State of destination to determine the acceptance, admissibility and probative value of foreign public. In particular, the authorities in the State of destination may determine whether a document has been forged or altered, or whether it has been validly executed. They may also establish time limits on the acceptance of foreign public documents (e.g. the document must be produced within a certain period after its execution), even though such limits cannot be imposed on the acceptance of the Apostille itself. Furthermore, it remains for the laws of evidence of the State of destination to determine the extent to which a foreign public document may be used to establish a certain fact.
The effect of an Apostille does not expire