Certification, Notarisation, Legalisation and Apostille demystified.

Are you confused about the difference between the above concepts? I certainly was when I started as a lawyer. I have summarised below the key differences to help you understand what you have been asked to provide.


Courts and official bodies often ask for the translation to be certified. The certification process is not standardized globally: in the United Kingdom, a “certified translation” means that the translator should add a one-page certificate confirming his/her qualification and that the translation is accurate to the best of his/her knowledge. Example of DZM Certificate of Accuracy.


For the purpose of translation authentication, some jurisdictions require documents that have been translated, or that were issued in another country (such as powers of attorneys, documents requiring legalization or appostille, certified copies of official documents, documents relating to the sale and purchase of a property) to be notarised before they can be legally recognised. A notary public will apply his/her signature on the document and seal it as well as confirming (if requested) the identity and authority of the signatory.


This is an internationally recognized procedure certifying the authenticity of official signatures and/or official seal applied to a public document so it can be recognized and used in another country. Legalisation may be required when applying for a visa, drivers license, passport, medical registration or company registration abroad or if you wish your marriage or qualifications recognized abroad. Click here for more details on the legalisation of documents.


This is sometimes referred to as a ‘fast-track’ version of legalisation between countries that have signed and ratified or acceded to the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. An appostille is a certificate issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs verifying the genuineness of the signature and/or seal of a public officer (e.g. a Notary Public) on a public document and the capacity in which he or she has acted. Click here for an example of appostille.


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