Neil Parker Attorneys Notarial Services
South African Documents for Use Abroad
Our Notarial services department will determine the nature of the authentication process that you will have to follow. A fairly simple two stage process can be followed when you intend to use documents in a country that is a party to The Hague Convention dated 5 October 1961, namely the Convention Abolishing the Requirements of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.
Where the country in which you intend to use documents is not a party to the Convention the process becomes more complicated as there are four stages that need to be completed.
Use in Countries Party to The Hague Convention – a 2 Stage Process.
At the moment the following countries are parties to the Convention: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Venezuela.
Documents intended for use in one of the above-mentioned countries can be authenticated as follows:
Stage one: The documents are taken to Neil Parker Notarial Services and signed in the presence of a notary, or in the case of notarial certified copies, the original documents are displayed to the Notary. The Notary will attach an authentication certificate to the documents which certificate will bear the Notary’s signature, stamp and seal.
Stage two: The Notary will then send your duly authenticated documents to the High Court in the area in which he/she practices where the court will attach an apostille certificate authenticating the Notary’s signature. Once both the Notary’s certificate and the apostille certificate are attached to your documents they are ready for use abroad.
Use in Countries Not a Party to The Hague Convention – a 4 Stage Process.
Where the country you intend to use documents in is not a party to the above mentioned convention the process becomes substantially more complicated.
Stage one: The documents are taken to Neil Parker Notarial services and signed in the presence of a notary, or in the case of notarial certified copies, the original documents are displayed to the Notary. The Notary will attach an authentication certificate to the documents which certificate will bear the Notary’s signature, stamp and seal.
Stage two: The Notary will then send your duly authenticated documents to the High Court in the area in which he/she practices where the court will attach an authentication certificate (as opposed to an apostille).
Stage three: The documents must then be sent to the legalisation section at DIRCO (The Department of International Relations and Co-operation) in Pretoria where they will be legalised.
Stage four: Finally, the documents must be sent to the embassy or consulate of the country in which they are intended for use for their final authentication. Once the four stages above have been completed the documents are ready for use abroad.
Foreign Documents for Use Inside the Republic of South Africa
Foreign documents to be used in the Republic need to be authenticated as per the requirements of Rule 63 of the Uniform Rules of Court. In terms of Rule 63, where a document is to be used in South Africa it will be considered to have been duly authenticated at such foreign place if it bears the signature and seal of office: (a) of the head of a South African diplomatic or consular mission or a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving at a South African diplomatic, consular or trade office abroad; or (b) of a consul-general, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the United Kingdom or any other person acting in any of the aforementioned capacities or a pro-consul of the United Kingdom; (c) of any Government authority of such foreign place charged with the authentication of documents under the law of that foreign country; or (d) of any person in such foreign place who shall be shown by a certificate of any person referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) or of any diplomatic or consular officer of such foreign country in the Republic to be duly authorised to authenticate such document under the law of that foreign country; or (e) of a notary public in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana or Swaziland; or (f) of a commissioned officer of the South African Defence Force as defined in section one of the Defence Act, 1957 (Act 44 of 1957), in the case of a document executed by any person on active service.
The documents can be authenticated according to the apostille process applicable in the country from which the documents originate where such country is a party to the Convention.
Where the country is not a party to the Convention the standard procedure is for the documents to be authenticated by an official of the South African Consulate or Embassy in that country who would generally attach a Certificate of Authentication bearing his signature, stamp and seal to the documents.
Different countries may change their own requirements and may even withdraw from the Convention without publicising same. It is therefore important to verify the applicable rules at the time that you are arranging for the authentication of your documents.
It should also be noted that in some cases an apostille, High Court certificate of authentication or any further legalisation is not necessary and authentication by a Notary Public only will suffice. In order to save yourself time and money it is advisable to check with the institution or person to whom the documents will be sent as to exactly what their requirements are.