July 6, 2017

What do you need to do to make sure documents can be used overseas?

If you’re submitting documents overseas, it’s important to remember that merely providing the documents does not mean that they will be considered to be genuine. The types of documents that may be submitted vary but could include documents of a contractual nature or documents that reflect your educational qualifications, Powers of Attorney and documents pertaining to property transfers. Steps need to be taken to prove that the documents issued in South Africa are genuine and will be recognised in another country.

Quite simply, your documents will need to go through an authentication procedure before you can submit them to another country.

Authentication can happen in one of two ways.

1. If the country that your documents are to be submitted to is a party to the Hague Convention, dated 5 October 1961, namely the Convention abolishing the Requirement for legalisation for Foreign Documents, the steps to authenticate are quite simple.

For example, you need to give someone in the United Kingdom Power of Attorney to deal with your affairs in the United Kingdom. You would sign the Power of Attorney in front of a Notary. The Notary would attach an Authentication Certificate to the Power of attorney stating that the document was signed in front of them by you on a certain date and that they have satisfied themselves as to your identity.

Once the Notary has signed the Certificate, the authenticated document would be sent to the High Court, in the area that the Notary practises. The court, more specifically the Chief Registrar, will attach an Apostille to the document authenticating the Notary’s signature.

For a list of countries that belong to The Hague Convention, you can check the Hague Convention website: www.hcch.net

2. If the country that your documents are to be submitted to a country that isn’t a party to the Hague Convention there are further requirements for the documents to be authenticated.

For example, you need to give someone in Kenya power of attorney to deal with your affairs in Kenya. You would sign the Power of Attorney in front of a Notary. The Notary would attach an Authentication Certificate to the Power of attorney stating that the document was signed in front of them by you on a certain date and that they have satisfied themselves as to your identity.

Once the Notary has signed the Certificate, the authenticated document would be sent to the High Court, in the area that the Notary practises. The court, more specifically the Chief Registrar, will attach an Authentication Certificate as opposed to an Apostille authenticating the Notary’s signature.

Once the Chief Registrar attaches the certificate of authentication, the documents need to be authenticated by the legalisation section of the Department of International Relations and Co –Operation (DIRCO). They will in turn attach a certificate stating that the document has been authenticated by their offices. There is no charge for authenticating documents at DIRCO.

Finally, the documents would then be taken to the Embassy or Consulate of the country that the documents are intended to be used in. The documents in our example would go to the Kenyan Embassy for final authentication. The charges for authentication at the Embassy or Consulate vary and it is suggested that you contact the consular section to make enquiries as to the costs and whether any additional documents are required.

Author: Marisa de Aguiar

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