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Legalisation (Authentication) of Official Documents

Introduction / Important Notes / Process to follow / Office hours / Where to find us / How to access the service / Processing times / Legal Instrument / Cost / Forms to be completed / Directory of contacts for official documents

NOTICE

The Legalisation Section will close at 10:00 on Thursday, 17 April 2014 for Easter.

It is in this regard that we wish to inform customers that Legalisation services (Apostille Certificates and Certificates of Authentication) will only be available on Thursday, 17 April 2014 between 08:30 and 10:00.  We wish to draw your attention to the fact that customers, who require same-day delivery for 1 – 5 documents, should submit their documents by 09:30.  Any documents received between 09:30 and 10:00 will be ready for collection on the next working day (during public hours).

Every effort will be made to limit the impact of the above office hours on our customers and we request your understanding and support in this regard.

END OF NOTICE

Introduction

Consular notarial services are rendered to South African citizens and foreign nationals requiring South African public documents to be legalised for use abroad.  These services are rendered to provide legal validity to South African 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 party to The Hague Convention) or with a Certificate of Authentication (where countries are not party to The Hague Convention).

Note:  The full description 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 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 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.  The foreign representative in South Africa of the country in which the document will be used would usually provide the customer with the list of documentation required for legalisation purposes.

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.

  • The following original (public) documents to be submitted directly to the Legalisation Section, provided the documents were signed by the relevant authority as listed below:

(a) 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) as issued and duly signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official.  (Note:  A letter of no impediment (marital status) is only valid for six (6) months from date of issue.)

(b) The original (valid) Police Clearance Certificate as issued, signed and stamped by the South African Police Service (SAPS) – Criminal Record Centre.  (Note:  A Police Clearance Certificate is only valid for six (6) months from date of issue.)

(c) 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.

(d) Original letters as issued (stamped and signed) by the Department of Transport confirming that the applicant holds a valid driver’s licence.  (Note:  The Legalisation Section cannot legalise actual driver’s licences.)

  • The following original documents must follow the route as explained below, before submitting to the Legalisation Section:

(a) 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.)

(b) 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.

(c) 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.

School and transfer certificatesPrimary 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.

(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 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.)

(d) 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.)

(e) Documents pertaining to the transportation of livestock, including pets, should be stamped and signed by an authorised State Veterinarian.

(f)  Divorce decrees and settlement agreements:  Customers should contact the High Court where the divorce was granted directly and make the necessary arrangements for a certified copy.  Once a current Registrar or Assistant Registrar (not a clerk of the court or a Registrar’s clerk) has signed and stamped the decree and each page of the settlement agreement (should the settlement agreement be required), the documents can then be submitted to the Legalisation Section for legalisation purposes.



Important notes

  • The following documents are not accepted by the Legalisation Section, i.e. abridged certificates or computer printouts; certified copies of birth, marriage, death or police clearance certificates; certified copies of letters of no impediment (marital status) or proof of citizenship; certified copies of travel documents or identity documents; and documents legalised by a Commissioner of Oaths to be true copies of the original.  These documents must follow the 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.
  • 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:

(a) 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 verify the contents of the documents.

(b) Step 2:  The verified 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 Hague Convention) and Authenticated (for non-signatory countries).

(c) 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. 

Note:  If a country is signatory to The Hague 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.  Refer to the Hague Conference on Private International Law – http://www.hcch.net for the relevant signatory countries.

Important notes

  • 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.

Processing times

Processing of documents where one (1) to a maximum of five (5) documents are received between 08:30 and 12:00 30-45 minutes
Processing of documents received between 12:00 and 12:30

Next working day
(during public hours)

Processing of documents where 20 or more documents are submitted during public hours Next working day
(during public hours)
Processing of documents where 20 or more documents are submitted during public hours Two (2) 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 response from the relevant Department / Institution.

Please take note:

The Legalisation Section to keep documents not collected by customers, before destroying the documentation

Six (6) months


Where to find us

Postal Address

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Attention: Legalisation Section
Private Bag X152
PRETORIA, 0001

Physical Address

Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Attention: Legalisation Section, NE2A-Ground Floor
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
PRETORIA, 0084

Tel:  (012) 351-1726 (enquiries).  Note:  The Legalisation Section is currently experiencing technical problems with the enquiries telephone number, and therefore if you experience problems to reach the Legalisation Section, please try the following alternative numbers:  Tel:  (012) 351-0595 / 1231 / 1490 / 0033 / 1268 / 1269 or the Supervisor on 1232.

Fax: (012) 329-1018

E-mail: legalisation@dirco.gov.za


How to access the service

Documents can be submitted to the Legalisation Section by one of the following means:

(Please take note that the addresses for submission of documents to the Legalisation Section differ, depending on the manner in which documents are submitted.)

  • Option 1:  Submission in person:

Physical address:  Department of International and Cooperation (DIRCO), OR Tambo Building, 460 Soutpansberg Road, Rietondale, Pretoria, 0084 – Office NE2A-Ground Floor or request the security to direct you to the Legalisation Section (reception area).

Requirements:  Our consular (public) hours are from 08:30 to 12:30 (Monday to Friday, except for public holidays).  For same-day service, of 1 to 5 documents, the customer must submit the correct documents by 12:00.  (Processing time is approximately 30 to 45 minutes.)  More than 5 documents, or documents received between 12:00 and 12:30 is for collection the next working day, during consular (public) hours.  Note:  20 documents or more received during public hours will take two (2) working days to be processed.  No letter of permission or ID book etc., are required to submit and collect documents in person (on another person’s behalf).  Important note:  Customers are to retain the blue (process) slip with the reference number to ensure that they are able to collect the documents when finalised.

  • Option 2:  Submission via a courier service:

Physical address:  Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), OR Tambo Building, 460 Soutpansberg Road, Rietondale, Pretoria, 0084 – Attention:  Office NE2A-Ground Floor (Legalisation Section).

Requirement:  It is essential to include a covering letter giving permission to the courier company to submit/collect documents on the customer’s behalf (including the specified address where the documents must be forwarded to after collection from the Legalisation Section), including the country for which the document is needed, as well as contact a contact number/e-mail address for the customer.  (Delivery/collection is strictly during public hours of 08:30 to 12:30 – Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.)  Customers should contact the Legalisation Section after delivery by the courier company to obtain a reference number, which can be done by forwarding an e-mail to legalisation@dirco.gov.za (providing the name of the Courier Company, airway bill number/tracking number and the date of delivery).  Without this reference number and letter of authority, the courier company will not be able to collect the documents on behalf of the customer.  Note:  Return service to be paid by the customer.

  • Option 3:  Submission by registered/fast mail:

    Postal address:  Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Attention:  Legalisation Section, Private Bag X152, Pretoria, 0001.

    Requirements:  Include an A4-size self-addressed/pre-paid return envelope (no cash will be accepted), to allow the Legalisation Section to return the documents to the customer upon completion.  Documents forwarded by mail must be accompanied by a covering letter, depicting the number of documents to be legalised, the country for which the legalisation is required as well as the full contact (telephone/e-mail) details of the sender.

    Important note:  The customer must ensure that the correct current RSA Post Office rates for domestic deliveries are adhered to, and to ensure that the correct value of stamps are placed on the return envelope.  (According to the current 2013/2014 SAPO financial tariffs, the total cost for a registered mail item should contain stamps to the value of R23-90 for an A4-size envelope.)  For further information and current rates, please visit the SAPO website – http://www.postoffice.co.za

  • Option 4:  Submission via the South African diplomatic or consular representative abroad (Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General):

If you are residing abroad, the services of the South African diplomatic or consular representative (Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General) could be utilised – submit to the mission for onward transmission via the diplomatic bag to the Legalisation Section (at Head Office).  It is advised that the customer confirm directly with the relevant mission on the availability of the diplomatic bag to South Africa and vice-versa, as well as to provide the customer with an estimated time-frame for sending and receiving the documents back at the mission.

Requirements:  The mission must include a covering letter stating the country for which the document is needed.


Legal Instrument

  • The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents).  Source:  The Hague Conference on Private International Law – http://www.hcch.net.
  • Rule 63 of The Rules of the High Court of South Africa, as amended by G.N. R.500 dated 12/3/82 and R.801 dated 23/4/82.

  • Rules of the High Court of South Africa as published in Government Notice R.277 dated 3rd March, 1967.


Cost

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) – Legalisation Section currently does not charge for the processing of documents.


Forms to be completed

No forms need to be completed. It is, however, important to always indicate in which country the document will be used.


Directory of contacts for official documents

(The contact information provided is for information purposes only.  Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, the Legalisation Section makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any out-dated or incorrect contact information of other Departments / Institutions / etc.)

Department of Home Affairs:

Please take note that the application for a full or unabridged birth / marriage / death / naturalisation certificate or citizenship status letter, letter of no impediment (marital status) etc., is a personal matter that the applicant must attend to and the issuing of these documents are the sole responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs.

The Department of Home Affairs (Head Office in Pretoria) does not directly deal with members of the public.  Therefore members of the public must apply at any Regional or District Home Affairs office.  (Refer to the Home Affairs website – under contact us for a list of regional customer service centres nearest to you.) 

For further details pertaining to the requirements, costs and processing times, etc., contact the Department of Home Affairs, as follows:

Contact Centre:

Tel:  0800 601 190 (within South Africa)

Tel:  +27 11 461-9253 (abroad)

Tel:  0800 20 44 76 (compliments and complaints)

E-mail:  csc@dha.gov.za

Website:  http://www.home-affairs.gov.za

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI):  Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Office (CIPC):

Contact:

Enquiry Office – Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Office (CIPC)

The DTI Campus (Block F – Entfutfukweni), 77 Meintjies Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 394-3949 / 5107 / 5297 / 5102 or 9973

Fax:  (012) 394-1015 / 6107 / 6297 or 086 517-7224

Contact Centre:  086 100 2472 (CIPC)

E-mail:  info@cipc.co.za

Website:  http://www.cipc.co.za  

Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

International Trade – Johannesburg

6th Floor, JCC House, Cnr. Empire Road and Owl Street, Milpark, Johannesburg
Tel:  (011) 726-5300

Fax:  (011) 482-6514

E-mail:  info@jcci.co.za

Website:  www.jcci.co.za

Department of Basic Education (DBE) and/or Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET):

Private higher educational institutions in South Africa:

SOL Plaatje House, 123 Francis Baard Street (Schoeman Street), Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 312-5320 / 5254 / 6334 / 5444 / 5260 / 6241

Public higher educational institutions, universities and universities of technology:

SOL Plaatje House, 123 Francis Baard Street (Schoeman Street), Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 312-5220 / 5201 / 6207 / 5294 / 5298 / 5298 / 5246

Fax:  (012) 321-1788

School and transfer certificates:

222 Struben Street, Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 357-3900 / 3250 / 3256

Fax:  (012) 328-6878 or 323-0603

FET College qualification:

222 Struben Street, Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 312-5760 / 5752 / 5755

Teacher qualifications:

123 Francis Baard Street (Schoeman Street), Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 312-5352 / 5188

South African Police Service (SAPS) – Criminal Record Centre:

South African nationals who work, travel and reside abroad require a Police Clearance Certificate for purposes such as court requirements, residence permission, securing employment or other purpose designated by the host country.  Therefore the service from the SAPS – Criminal Record Centre is available to South Africans who require confirmation of their criminal status.  Please take note that the application for a Police Clearance Certificate is a personal matter that the applicant must attend to and the issuing of a clearance certificate is the sole responsibility of the SAPS – Criminal Record Centre.

The Head (Attention:  Police Clearance Certificates), 1st Floor, Room 14 Botongo Plaza West Building, 271 Francis Baard Street (Schoeman Street), Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 393-3709 / 393-3928 or 393-3712

Fax:  (012) 393-3909

E-mail:  crc_nameclear@saps.org.za or crc_client@saps.org.za or crc_clientserv.sec@saps.org.za

Website:  www.saps.gov.za (refer to information under the heading FAQ’s – Application for Police Clearance Certificates (PCC) for further information.

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA):

553 Madiba Street (Vermeulen Street), Arcadia, Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 338-9300

Registrar of the High Court of South Africa:

North Gauteng High Court (Pretoria)

High Court Building, 1st Floor (room 1.21), corner Madiba (Vermeulen) and Paul Kruger Streets, Pretoria

Tel:  (012) 315-7410/7711

Fax:  (012) 326-1995

South Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg)

High Court Building, room 103, corner Kruis and Pritchard Streets, Johannesburg

Tel:  (011) 332-8290 / 8278

Fax:  (011) 332-8214

Western Cape High Court (Cape Town)

35 Keerom Street, Cape Town

Tel:  (021) 480-2411

Fax:  (021) 423-0412

Eastern Cape High Court (Port Elizabeth)

2 Bird Street, Port Elizabeth

Tel:  (041) 502-6600

Fax:  (041) 582-2625

KwaZulu-Natal High Court (Durban)

12 Masonic Grove (Dullah Omar), Durban

Tel:  (031) 362-5800

Fax:  (031) 305-4550

KwaZulu-Natal High Court (Pietermaritzburg)

301 Church Street, Pietermaritzburg

Tel:  (033) 345-8211

Fax:  (033) 345-3815

Free State High Court (Bloemfontein)

Corner Fontein and President Brands Streets, Bloemfontein

Tel:  (051) 406-8100

Fax:  (051) 430-7041

For further information on Registrars of the High Courts refer to http://www.justice.gov.za/contact/cnt_hcregistrar.html


To add value and improve consular services to the public, this consular site is constantly under construction. For consular related services, information and enquiries you are not able to find on this site, please contact the Chief Directorate Consular Services or the Webmaster.

Last updated: 28 March 2014
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