In order for a document to be legalised with an Apostille it must be signed by a person of a recognised legal standing, for example a practicing solicitor, Notary public, registrar or Government official. The Apostille is then issued to confirm that this is a valid signatory. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have collated a growing database of recognised signatories who have previously been through the verification process and any new signatories will be contacted accordingly.
Due to the expanse of this official database the majority of documents can be legalised with the Apostille in just 1 or 2 working days. If the individual who has signed your document is not yet recognised by the FCO they will be contacted to confirm their signature. Assuming they act on this correspondence in an efficient manner the Apostille can still be issued within a 2-3 working day period.
Nevertheless, verifying a new signatory can sometimes delay the Apostille process and this can be illustrated with the case of a doctor’s signature. You may have a doctor’s note or medical report that requires the Apostille. As doctors are often very busy people it may be difficult for them to respond to the FCO in a timely fashion.
The age of a document may also determine the timescale for the Apostille process. This is common with older birth or marriage certificates. In such a case it may not always be possible to contact the registrar or vicar who has certified the document as they may have since moved on. The age of your document need not be a worry for you as when such a situation arises when the signatory of a registry document is not contactable an official replacement can be obtained the General Registry Office. Please see our guide for more information on obtaining an official replacement registrar certificate.
Most apostilles are issued in just 1-2 days.
If you document has been signed by a UK solicitor or Notary Public it is advisable to check the document is certified correctly to prevent any delays in processing your document. As a general guide, the document should be signed in an individual’s name; the signature should be dates; and a reason needs to be given as to why the document is being certified. Incorrectly certified documents can lead to unnecessary delays.
The Apostille certification is recognised by all members of the Hague convention. When your document is to be used outside of the Hague Convention you may need to have this presented at the relevant embassy. The embassy timeframes can vary and this is an important point to consider when estimating how fast your document can be legalised. Please visit our embassy legalisation service section for more information on how we can assist with embassy attestation.
If you would like any further advice or reassurances on the speed of our service please do not hesitate to contact us.