Introduction

Consular notarial services are rendered to South African citizens and foreign nationals requiring South African official (public) documents to be legalised for use abroad.  These services are rendered to provide legal validity to South African official (public) documents to enable a person to use the documents outside the Republic of South Africa. Legalising documents means that official (public) documents executed within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa are affixed, sealed and signed either with an Apostille Certificate (where countries are signatory to the Apostille Convention) or with a Certificate of Authentication (where countries are not signatory to the Apostille Convention).

Legalisation therefore basically means the process followed by which the signature and seal on an official (public) document is verified.

Note:  The full description of the Apostille Convention is The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents).  Please visit The Hague Conference on Private International Law – http://www.hcch.net for further information on signatory countries.

Note:  South African diplomatic or consular representatives abroad can legalise official documents only if these were legalised by the relevant foreign competent authority in their country of accreditation, for use within South Africa.  South African diplomatic or consular representatives abroad cannot issue Apostille Certificates, only Certificates of Authentication.

The DIRCO – Legalisation Section provides the following service:

  • Legalises official (public) documents executed within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa by means of an Apostille Certificate or a Certificate of Authentication.
  • Provides customers with guidelines to obtain the correct signatures/documents, if documents submitted are incorrect or incomplete.
  • Provides customers with information by telephone, mail and e-mail.

Prerequisite to request for consular notarial services

The document to be legalised is determined by the customer.  Legalisation staff are not able to advise customers as what documents they need to submit for i.e. foreign work/residence permits; application for foreign citizenship or registration of birth; or to obtain a foreign passport, etc.  Customers are therefore advised to contact the foreign representative in South Africa of the country in which the document will be used directly to determine what documents they will need to submit and which documentation will be required for legalisation purposes and what their countries specific requirements are, etc.

The Legalisation Section can issue the relevant Apostille Certificate or the Certificate of Authentication subject to the following rules:

  • The customer needs to advise the Legalisation Section of the country in which the document will be used to enable the Legalisation Section to determine if an Apostille Certificate or Certificate of Authentication is required.
  • The period of validity of the document has not expired.
  • Refer below for the relevant important notes for additional guidance and information on the various different types of documentation.

The following types original official (public) documents can be submitted directlyto the Legalisation Section, provided the documents were signed and stamped by the relevant issuing authority, as listed below:

  • The original unabridged or full birth, marriage and/or death certificates; original (valid) letters of no impediment (marital status);  letter confirming an individual’s citizenship status (letters confirming naturalization) and renunciation letters as issued and duly signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official.  (Refer to the “important notes” below for further guidance and information pertaining to these types of civic documentation.)
  • The original (valid) Police Clearance Certificate as issued, signed and stamped by the South African Police Service (SAPS) – Criminal Record and Crime Scene Management [previously referred to as the Criminal Record Centre (CRC)].  (Note:  A Police Clearance Certificate is only valid for six (6) months from date of issue.
  • The original adoption papers signed and stamped by the relevant Presiding Officer / Commissioner of Child Welfare of the Children’s Court (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development) or the Registrar of Adoptions at the Department of Social Development.
  • Original Confirmation Letters as issued (stamped and signed) by the Department of Transport – Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) confirming that the applicant holds a valid driver’s licence.  (Note: The Legalisation Section cannot legalise actual driver’s licences.).

NOTE:  Flow diagram:  To follow the process as explained above (when the destination country is signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Apostille Certificate will be issued and affixed:

(If the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.)

 

NOTE:  Flow diagram:  To follow the process as explained above (when the destination country is NOT signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Certificate of Authentication will be issued and affixed:

Important notes (pertaining to the types of official (public) documentation that may be submitted directly to the Legalisation Section)

  • The following documents are not accepted by the Legalisation Section, i.e. abridged certificates or computer printouts (in other words a shortened version of the unabridged certificate).  The reason for this is that an abridged certificate is simply a computer printout and it does not contain the signature and stamp of the issuing authority.
  • The marriage certificate as issued by the marriage officer will not be accepted for legalisation purposes.  If you wish the marriage certificate to be legalised, then the original unabridged marriage certificate, as obtainable from the Department of Home Affairs will be required.
  • The Legalisation Section does not accept certified copies i.e. birth, marriage, death certificates; police clearance certificates; letters of no impediment (marital status); proof of citizenship; travel documents or identity documents, etc.  The Legalisation Section also does not accept documents which was certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths.  Refer to the information that deals with the procedure or route of the Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court.
  • “Old” documentation:  Please take note that although the original document is an original and valid document, the signature of the official (or employee) who originally issued and signed the document might not be available on the DIRCO – Legalisation Section signature database, neither be obtainable from the specific government Department, as the official (or employee) who originally issued and signed the document is no longer employed at the specific Department, which makes it impossible for the Legalisation Section to legalise the “old” document at such a late stage.  Therefore it is advisable that the document should preferably not be older than one (1) year.  The Legalisation Section furthermore recommends that customers must also verify with the relevant foreign representative in South Africa what their specific country requirements are.
  • Letter of No Impediments (marital status) can be legalised if on an original, official Home Affairs letterhead, signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official (Head Office only).  (These documents are only valid for a period of six (6) months from the date of issue.)  Important:  The Department of Home Affairs confirmed that the Letter of No Impediments (marital status) are issued, stamped and signed by the authorised official at Head Office of the Department of Home Affairs only.  Letters, as issued by the Regional Home Affairs offices, will not be accepted for legalisation purposes, as these were issued without an authorisation.
  • Note:  Documents which has been laminated will not be accepted for legalisation purposes.

The following types of original documents must follow the route as explained below, BEFORE submitting to the Legalisation Section:

  • All documentation regarding the registration of companies and of close corporations, registration of patent designs, trademarks and copyrights must first be stamped and signed (every page) by the relevant Registrar at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Office (CIPC), who is authorised to sign documents for international purposes.  (Please take note:  If the DTI – CIPC is unable to stamp and sign the documentation, then the customer needs to follow the route of the Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court.)
  • Export documentation must be stamped and signed (every page) by the authorised employee at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  (Please take note:  The Chamber will not certify government-issued documents i.e. food inspection certificates, veterinary health certificates, halaal certificates, etc.  However, the Chamber can issue a short letter on its letterhead to the effect that the Chamber has examined the certificate, and that based on its examination of the certificate supplied, the information contained therein to be true and correct (and to include the ‘number of pages’ of the attached documentation).  This letter on the original letterhead of the Chamber must be signed by the authorised employee and stamped with the Chamber seal and placed on top of the document concerned.
  • School and transfer certificates:  Primary and secondary school certificates (grade 1 – 11):  The transfer card needs to be signed and sealed by the principal of the school and the education district director or deputy director.  The principal of the school needs to provide a letter confirming that the pupil studied at the school.  Then it should be taken to the Department of Basic Education – to any of the authorised officials, who will issue a confirmation letter for the DIRCO – Legalisation Section to legalise the accompanying documents.Secondary school certificates (grade 12):  The original grade 12 certificate, together with a copy should be taken to the Department of Basic Education – to any of the authorised officials for verification.  Thereafter the documents should be submitted to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section to legalise.  (Refer to the section dealing with UMALUSI, if you hold a relevant certificate, as listed below.)

Note:  The Department of Basic Education (DBE) refers to the National Department based in Pretoria (and not the various regional offices).  Please refer to “Directory:  Contact Information” for the relevant contact information.

  • UMALUSI certificates:  UMALUSI requires a certified copy of the document to be verified as well as a certified copy of the requestor’s ID document or passport.  The certified copies may not be older than three (3) months.  These copies and proof of payment, as determined by UMALUSI, of the request for verification should be e-mailed to [email protected] or faxed to (012) 349-1099.  Banking details of UMALUSI: ABSA; Lynnwood Ridge; Cheque Account; Account Number 1630145178; Branch code – 333845; Reference No. – EVODIR002L.  The e-mail / fax must clearly indicate: VERIFICATION FOR THE DIRCO.  The application must clearly state the embassy/country and the information of the requestor as follows:  Embassy/High Commission/Consular name and address; name and surname; ID number; contact number; e-mail address; and contact person. UMALUSI will strive to ensure completion of the verification within a 24-hour working day period.  Once the request has been finalised, the requestor will be contacted to make arrangements for a courier service to collect the documents from the UMALUSI offices and courier them to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section.  (The cost of such courier service is payable by the requestor.)  The requestor may also collect the documentation from UMALUSI, per arrangement.

The qualifications verified by UMALUSI for this purpose are:

  • Senior Certificate (schools);
  • National Senior Certificate (schools after 2008/11);
  • National Senior Certificate (Colleges – N3 subjects and two languages);
  • National N3 Certificate;
  • National Certificate (Vocational) – Levels 2, 3 and 4;
  • General Education and Training Certificate (ABET Level 4);  and
  • Subject Statements/Certificates and/or Learning Area Certificates for the above qualifications.

Please note the following exceptions where UMALUSI will not be in a position to do the verification:

  • All certificates issued before November 1992 must be verified by the Department of Basic Education (schooling qualifications) or the Department of Higher Education and Training (vocational and adult qualifications) as appropriate.
  • During the period between release of results and certification for Grade 12 learners – January to April for the November examination and January to August for those who have written the March supplementary examination, the verification of the statement of results will therefore be done by the Department of Basic Education.
  • In the event that the results have, for whatever reason, not yet been certified, the requestor will be referred to the Department of Basic Education or the Department of Higher Education and Training for verification purposes as UMALUSI can only verify those records which have been certified.
  • All primary and secondary school results (grades 1 to 11) are verified by the Department of Basic Education.
  • Note:  The requestor will be referred to the relevant Department in all instances mentioned above.  The Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training may have requirements that differ from those of UMALUSI, therefore, in the event that the requestor is referred, please contact the relevant Department for further information.
  • Educational qualifications obtained through higher educational institutions and training facilities need to be verified by the Department of Higher Education and Training.  The original certificate together with copies should be submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training, as the relevant section will stamp and sign a true copy of the certificate and issue an original covering letter confirming that the educational institution is a recognised institution in South Africa.  The original covering letter must be signed and stamped by the authorised official, together with the stamped/signed copy of the certificate must then be submitted to the Legalisation Section for legalisation purposes.(Note: The Department of Basic Education / Department of Higher Education and Training will only be able to assist if the institution is registered with the Department.  It is therefore recommended to contact the relevant Department to verify if the institution is registered, before submitting your documentation.  If the institution is not registered with the Department of Basic Education/Department of Higher Education and Training, you will need to follow the route of the Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court.)

Note:  The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) refers to the National Department based in Pretoria (and not the various regional offices).  Please refer to “Directory:  Contact Information” for the relevant contact information.

  • Trade Certificates:  The Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998) as amended legislates the quality assurance functions for which the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) is responsible.  The qualifications verified for this purpose are:
  • Occupational Certificates NQF Levels 2-8;  and
  • Trade certificates under the following categories:Trade Certificates issued by the QCTO under the Skills Development Act – certificates issued from 1 November 2013 onwards;  Trade Certificates issued under the Department of Labour, Department of Manpower and the Department of Higher Education and Training;  Trainee certificates issued under Section 30 of the Manpower Training Act by the Department of Labour, Department of Manpower and the Department of Higher Education and Training;  Trade Certificates issues under the Black Builders Act;  and Replacement Trade Certificates issued by the QCTO.
  • Please note the following exceptions where the QCTO will NOT be in a position to do the verification of a trade certificate:  A trade certificate issued by a former Training Board or a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).  For the authentication of these certificates, the applicant must follow the process i.e. Public Notary / Registrar of the High Court.
  • NOTE:  QCTO requires a certified copy of the document to be verified as well as a certified copy of the requestor’s ID document or passport.  The certified copies may not be older than three (3) months.  The requestor must ensure that before the fee is paid, the QCTO can indeed verify the type of certificate.  These copies and proof of payment, as determined by the QCTO, of the request for verification should be e-mailed to [email protected].  Banking details of the QCTO:  ABASA;  Mid Corporate Pretoria;  Cheque Account; Account number 40 7837 0566; Branch code 632005; Reference No. DIRCO001.  The e-mail must clearly indicate:  VERIFICATION FOR DIRCO.  The application must clearly state the embassy/country and the information of the requestor as follows:  Embassy/High Commission/Consular name and address;  name and surname;  ID number;  contact number;  e-mail address;  and contact person.  The QCTO will strive to ensure completion of the verification within a 72-hour working day period.  Once the request has been finalised, the requestor will be contacted to make arrangements for a courier service to collect the documents from the QCTO offices and courier or deliver them to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section.  (The cost of such courier service is payable by the requestor.)  The requestor may also collect the documents from the QCTO office during working hours from 08:00 to 15:30 by arrangement.
  • All medical certificates issued by a medical doctor after a medical examination on a patient needs to be stamped and signed (every page) by the authorised official at the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).  By stamping and signing the certificates, the HPCSA confirms that the medical doctor is a registered medical practitioner in South Africa.  (Note:  The Legalisation Section does not legalise actual x-rays.  The results of the x-rays must be contained in the document issued by the medical practitioner, which should be stamped and signed by the HPCSA.).
  • Documents pertaining to the transportation of livestock, including pets, should be stamped and signed by an authorised State Veterinarian.
  • Divorce decrees and settlement agreements:  Customers should contact the High Court where the divorce was granted directly and make the necessary arrangements for a current Registrar or Assistant Registrar (not a clerk of the court or a Registrar’s clerk) to sign and stamp the divorce decree and each page of the settlement agreement (should the settlement agreement be required), before submitting to our office for legalisation purposes.  Note:  If the country of destination is signatory to the Apostille Convention, then the relevant High Court where the divorce was granted could in fact issue and affix the Apostille Certificate directly.  In this case, the documentation must not be submitted to our office, as the rule will be applicable that if the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.

NOTE:  The DIRCO – Legalisation Section does not take any responsibility for incorrect information provided, due to changes in the relevant authorities contact details; procedures; etc.  It is therefore the responsibility of the customer to verify information directly with the relevant institution concerned.

NOTE: Flow diagram:  To follow the process as explained above (when the destination country is signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Apostille Certificate will be issued and affixed:


(If the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.)

NOTE: Flow diagram:  To follow the process as explained above (when the destination country is NOT signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Certificate of Authentication will be issued and affixed:

When to follow the route of the Public Notary (or Sworn Translator) and Registrar of the High Court:

  • There may be other documents not listed above i.e. documents pertaining to customary marriages;  travel documents (passport) or identity documents;  or documents such as an affidavit, power of attorney;  work contracts;  and / or translations, which has to be verified by a Public Notary (Attorney registered with the High Court) or translated by a Sworn Translator (if this service is required), where after the verified documents must then be taken to the Registrar of the High Court of South Africa – in the same jurisdiction as the Public Notary or Sworn Translator, before submitting to the Legalisation Section:

Step 1:  Documents must be verified by a Public Notary (an Attorney registered at the High Court) or translated by a Sworn Translator (if the customer wishes the documentation to be translated) – of your choice.  Note:  The Public Notary will basically make a certified copy of the original document (which is the procedure, by which the copy of the original document, is “certified” as being “a true copy of the original document”).

Step 2: The certified documents or translated documents must then be taken to the Registrar of the High Court of South Africa – in the same jurisdiction as the Public Notary / Sworn Translator.  The Registrar will verify the signature and/or the seal of the Public Notary / Sworn Translator.  (Note:  Documents to be Apostilled (for countries that are signatory to the Apostille Convention) and Authenticated (for non-signatory countries).

Step 3: After Authentication (for non-signatory countries) by the High Court, the documents must then be submitted to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section for further authentication.

Flow diagram: Process when following the route of the i.e. Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court (when the destination country is signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Apostille Certificate will be issued and affixed

(If the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.)

Note:  If a country is signatory to Apostille Convention, the High Court should issue and affix an Apostille Certificate to the document.  This document should not be submitted to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section.  If the Convention applies, an Apostille is the only formality that is required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.

NOTE: Flow diagram:  Process when following the route of the i.e. Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court (when the destination country is NOT signatory to the Apostille Convention) – and when the Certificate of Authentication will be issued and affixed:

Important notes (pertaining to documents that follow the route of the Public Notary (or Sworn Translator) and the Registrar of the High Court):

  • The signature of a Notary Public, Justice of the Peace or any court employee who is not a Registrar has to be legalised by a Magistrate, Additional Magistrate or Assistant Magistrate or by a Registrar or Assistant Registrar of any division of the High Court of South Africa within the jurisdiction of which such Justice of the Peace exercises his or her function or such Notary Public is in practice, before documents are submitted to the Legalisation Section for legalisation purposes.
  • Documents must be bound together with the signature of the Registrar / Magistrate as the final signature of the first page, verifying the signature of the Public Notary or Justice of the Peace.  The documents must be bound with a ribbon and red seal and the dry seal / stamp clearly visible on the document.
  • A Registrar can only verify the signatures of a) an Attorney who is registered at the High Court as a Public Notary practising in the same jurisdiction of the relevant court or b) a Sworn Translator who is registered at the High Court in the same jurisdiction of the relevant court.
  • The country of destination should be clearly specified to ensure the correct procedure is followed by the High Court.
  • Copies of official documents signed by a member of the South African Police Services (SAPS) are not accepted.

Office Hours

Opening hours to the public is from Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays (08:30 to 12:30).

The Legalisation Section will give seven (7) day notice of any closure that is not a public holiday. (Refer to the specific processing times listed below for further information, as to avoid any disappointment when visiting the Legalisation Section, in order to ensure that the stipulated public hours and processing times are adhered to accordingly, etc.).

Note:

  • The Legalisation Section will close at 10:00 on Thursday, 18 April 2019(prior to Good Friday).

Processing times

The following processing times will be implemented with effect from Thursday, 11 October 2018:

Processing of documents where 1 to a maximum of 5 documents are received between public hours i.e. 08:30 to 12:30 Collection next working day (during public hours)
Processing of 6 – 19 documents received between public hours i.e. 08:30 to 12:30 Three (3) working days (during public hours)
Processing of 20 or more documents received between public hours i.e. 08:30 to 12:30 Five (5) working days (during public hours).
Signature verification: Contact signatory of the document whose signature is required to be verified.

Note: It is regretted that the Legalisation Section is not able to provide an undertaking as to how long it will take the signatory to forward their specimen signature to the Legalisation Section.

Depending on the response from the relevant Department / Institution.
Please take note: The Legalisation Section to keep documents not collected by customers, before destroying the documentation.