Everything you need to know about legalising your documents with attestation. Image: AdobeStock

Everything you need to know about legalising your documents with attestation

Attestation is a verification process for South African documents that need to be made legally valid outside of South Africa.


Everything you need to know about legalising your documents with attestation. Image: AdobeStock

In the context of legalising documents for usage in countries that are not part of the Apostille Convention, a more extensive procedure comes into play. This particularly applies to countries like Taiwan, Vietnam, or China, where an elongated process is required compared to countries under the purview of the Hague Conference. If your destination lies in one of these non-Apostille Convention countries, your documents must be submitted for attestation as part of the legalisation process.

To ensure the acceptance of your esteemed South African documents in these countries, the process begins with authentication. Subsequently, these authenticated documents are to be submitted to the relevant embassy for the purpose of legalisation or attestation.

Scope of authenticated documents

The scope of documents eligible for authentication is broad and encompasses various essential categories.

Essential documents often requiring attestation

A diverse array of documents falls under the realm of embassy attestation. These often include:

Civic certificates

The spectrum of civic certificates—birth, death, and marriage certificates, along with letters of no impediment—undergoes attestation to grant them authoritative recognition in their intended foreign destination.

Academic documents

Educational pursuits find their representation in academic documents such as degrees, diplomas, and matric certificates. Embassy attestation elevates the credibility of these credentials on the international stage.

Police Clearance Certificates

For those embarking on journeys necessitating background checks, police clearance certificates gain enhanced validity through embassy attestation.

Medical reports

The relevance of medical reports often transcends borders. With embassy attestation, these reports gain the endorsement needed to traverse international territories.

Divorce orders

The cross-border implications of divorce orders necessitate their attestation to ensure their acknowledgement and enforceability in foreign jurisdictions.

Prerequisites for attestation

Before the vital step of attestation, certain preliminary stages ensure the documents are primed for international recognition. These include:

  1. Notarisation and Verification: Documents can undergo notarisation and verification at key institutions including a Notary Public and the High Court.
  2. Educational Validation: Academic documents receive validation from authoritative bodies such as SAQA, the Departments of Basic and Higher Education and Training (DHET), and Umalusi.
  3. Health Professions: Medical reports gain validation from the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
  4. Government Validation: The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) plays a pivotal role in the document’s journey toward attestation.

Preparing your documents for Embassy attestation

Before your documents are ready for attestation at the embassy, there are a couple of important steps to take. First, the embassy needs to see that your documents have been apostilled or officially verified by the high court. Once this is done, your documents can be attested at the embassy of the country where you intend to use the documents.

Embassy Attestation process in South Africa
Here is an infographic showing the embassy attestation and legalisation process of documents. Infographic: Supplied

Each embassy has its own set of fees and the time it takes for the attestation process to be completed. These fees can change every now and then depending on how much demand there is and how the currency values fluctuate. Sometimes, these fees can be quite high. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and take note of these costs well in advance so you’re financially prepared.

Expert assistance with the attestation process

It’s clear that attestations serve as important verification processes for South African documents that need to be made legally valid outside of South Africa. This procedure ensures that your documents meet the necessary legal standards for use beyond the borders of our country.

For the quickest and most efficient option, having your documents apostilled is often the best route. However, it’s important to note that apostilled documents are only suitable for use in certain countries. Numerous countries require a legalisation process known as attestation for your documents to be accepted. The dedicated team at has honed their expertise in attesting documents for a range of countries, including:

  • China
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • UAE / Dubai
  • Kuwait
  • Ethiopia
  • Mozambique
  • Taiwan
  • Qatar
  • Lebanon
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Canada

If you’re unsure about the attestation process or have any queries regarding document legalisation, don’t hesitate to connect with them to receive the guidance you need to ensure your documents are ready and accepted for your international ventures.

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