(Authentication) of Official Documents
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Legalising documents means that official (public) documents 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.
The Legalisation Section:
- Legalises official (public) documents executed within 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.
- Provides customers with information by telephone, mail and e-mail.
- South African 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 representatives abroad cannot issue Apostille Certificates, only Certificates of Authentication.
- The signature of a Commissioner of Oaths, 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 an Assistant Registrar of any division of the High Court of South Africa within the jurisdiction of which such Commissioner of Oaths or 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.
- If you need copies of documents to be legalised (i.e. passport, ID, work contract, etc.), these need to be notarised by a Public Notary (an Attorney who is registered at the High Court) – of your choice. The Public Notary will verify the contents of the documents. 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. The Registrar will verify the signature of the Public Notary. (Copies of official documents signed by a member of the South African Police Services (SAPS) are not accepted. The Legalisation Section cannot legalise copies of documents, whether these are certified true copies or not.).
Note: After authentication (for non-signature countries) by the High Court, the documents must be submitted to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section for further authentication. 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, but should be submitted directly to the foreign representative in South Africa.
“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.
- The following documents cannot be accepted by the Legalisation Section, i.e. abridged certificates or computer printouts; certified copies of marriage, birth, 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, as these documents must follow the route of the Public Notary/Registrar of the High Court.
- 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 (not a clerk of the court or a Registrar’s clerk) has signed and stamped the decree and each page of the settlement (should the settlement be required), the documents can then be submitted to the Legalisation Section for legalisation purposes.
The document that must be legalised is determined by the customer. The Legalisation Section can issue the relevant Apostille Certificate or Certificate of Authentication subject to the following rules:
The following documents are not accepted:
- The period of validity of the documents have not expired.
- The customer needs to advise the Legalisation Section in which country the document will be used to allow the section to determine if an Apostille or Authentication Certificate is required.
- Depending on the type of documentation, it will be required that the documentation firstly be stamped/signed by the appropriate department; institution; by a Magistrate, an additional Magistrate or Assistant Magistrate; or a Registrar or an Assistant Registrar of the High Court of South Africa before the Legalisation Section can issue the relevant Apostille or Authentication Certificate.
- Abridged documents or computer printouts.
- Certified copies of marriage, birth, death or police clearance certificates.
- Certified copies of Certificates of Marital Status (no impediment) or Proof of Citizenship.
- Certified copies of travel documents or identity documents.
- Documents legalised by Commissioners of Oath to be true copies of the original, cannot be accepted and must follow the route of the Public notary.
The following original (public) documents can 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, letters of no impediment (marital status), letter confirming an individual's citizenship status, as issued and duly signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs employee.
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 three (3) months.).
c) The original adoption papers signed and stamped by the relevant Presiding Officer of the Children’s Court (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development) or the Registrar for Adoptions (Department of Social Development).
The following 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 relevant Chamber of Commerce. (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 employee, together with the stamped/signed copy of the certificate must then be submitted to the Legalisation Section for legalisation purposes.
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.
(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 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) Documentation that must follow the route of the Public Notary/Sworn Translator/Registrar of the High Court of South Africa:
Step 1: Documents must be verified by a Public Notary (an Attorney registered at the High Court) – of your choice. The Public Notary will verify the contents of the documents.
Step 2: 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. The Registrar will verify the signature of the Public Notary. (Note: Documents to be Apostilled (for countries that are signatory to The Hague 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. (Note: If a country is signatory to The Hague Convention, the High Court should issue and affix an Apostille to the document. This document should not be submitted to the DIRCO – Legalisation Section, but should be submitted directly to the foreign representative in South Africa.)
Please take note: A Registrar con only verify the signatures of a) an Attorney who is registered at the High Court as a Public Notary practising in the same jurisdiction; and b) a sworn translator registered within the same jurisdiction of the relevant court. The country should be clearly specified to ensure the correct procedure is followed by the High Court.
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.
to find us
Fax: (012) 329-1018
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Chief Directorate: Consular Services (LEGALISATION SECTION)
Private Bag X152
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
LEGALISATION SECTION, NE2A-Ground Floor
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Tel: (012) 351-1726
Note: The Legalisation Section is currently experiencing technical problems with the abovementioned 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.
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: In person: Customers are to retain the blue (process) slip with the 4-digit reference number to ensure that they are able to collect the documents when finalised.
- Option 2: Submission via a courier service: 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 details for the customer. (Delivery/collection is strictly during consular (public) hours of 08:30 to 12:30.) Customers should contact the Legalisation Section after delivery by the courier company to obtain a 4-digit reference number, which can be done by forwarding an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (providing the airway bill number/tracking number, name of courier company utilised, and the date of delivery). Without this 4-digit 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.
Physical address: Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Attention: Legalisation Section, OR Tambo Building, 460 Soutpansberg, Rietondale, Pretoria.
- Option 3: Submission by registered/fast mail: Include a self-addressed, pre-paid (no cash will be accepted) A4 size return envelope, 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 details of the sender.
Postal address: Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO),
Option 4: Via the South African representative abroad (Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General).
Attention: Legalisation Section, Private Bag X152, Pretoria, 0001.
|1 to 5 documents received during public hours
|More than 5 documents or documents received after 12:00
(during public hours)
|20 documents or more received during public hours
||Two (2) working days
(during public hours)
- 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.
No fees are charged for the processing of documents
to be completed
No forms need to be completed. It is, however, important to always indicate in which country the document will be used.
of contacts for official documents
Department of Home Affairs:
For further information on Registrars of the High Courts refer to
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:
Tel: 0800 601 190 (within South Africa)
Tel: +27 11 461-9253 (abroad)
Tel: 0800 20 44 76 (compliments and complaints)
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI): Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Office (CIPC):
Enquiry Office – Companies and Intellectual Property Commission Office (CIPC)
202 Esselen Street, 4th Floor, Sunnyside, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 394-3949 / 5107 / 5297 / 5102
Fax: (012) 394-6107 / 6297
Contact Centre: 0861 843-384
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
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 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 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
123 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 Schoeman Street, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 393-3709 / 393-3928 or 393-3712
Fax: (012) 393-3909
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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 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 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