Planning to get married overseas or lost your Spanish marriage certificate?
If you are going to use British documents overseas, for business or personal reasons, you’ll probably be asked to have your documents legalised before they can be accepted. Legalisation is the official confirmation that a signature, seal or stamp on a document is genuine.
Legalisation is the process by which the signature and seal of the notary are authenticated by the Foreign Office and the Foreign Embassy. Documents going to countries which are, or have been, part of the British Commonwealth seldom need legalisation nor, at present, do documents going to most parts of the United States.
Most countries accept only one certificate from the Foreign Office called an Apostille (the legal term for the legalisation certificate). Some countries want one certificate from the Foreign Office and one from their own Embassy. This can take longer. There are other procedures that apply only to a few countries, and there can be problems if a document is to be used in a country with which the United Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations. Your notary may not be able to tell you in advance what legalisation will cost, but fees can be high for some commercial documents.
The Foreign Office address is The Legalisation Office, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Norfolk House, 437 Silbury Boulevard Milton Keynes MK9 2AH. They have a useful website at: www.fco.gov.uk
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