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Attesting Documents: What, How and When

Simon Colwill - April 26, 2024 - 0 comments

Document attestation is essential for ensuring legal personal and business documents are authenticated and genuine when used in foreign countries. A document’s attestation is required when it is needed to be validated for use abroad, such as when an individual moves overseas or becomes employed there. 

This article aims to outline what document attestation entails and when you need to consider it to ensure your documents are accepted for use across borders. 

What is document attestation?

Attesting documents refers to the act of verifying their authenticity to validate it for use in another country. Attestation is often requested when attempting to use documents abroad, and functions to authenticate the document itself and the signatures within it with the relevant embassy in the UK, so the document is valid for use. 

Which documents require attestation?

Attesting documents can be required and carried out for a range of types of documents, providing the document is genuine. However, they are most commonly required when using important formal documents abroad, such as to ensure the validity of Wills, powers of attorney and degree certificates.

Personal and commercial documents that can require attestation include:

  • Degree certificates or other educational certificates
  • Birth certificates and adoption certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Business and commercial documents such as contracts
  • Medical certificates and reports
  • Wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Police certificates
  • Financial documents
  • Passports

Who can attest documents?

Embassy document attestation must be carried out by a third party person, with no interest or relationship to the signatories, and can witness the signatures free from any potential bias or influence. The attestor(s) should also have no relation or interest in the contents of the documents or the outcome of the documents being signed.

There are certain laws and requirements around the attesting of documents for legal documents such as Wills in some countries, so it’s important to be aware of these to ensure signatures on a document are legally binding. You should also check with whoever has requested your documents to identify if they have any specific rules or requirements and ensure your document is valid for use. 

To ensure that no mistakes are made during the process and avoid your documents being rejected when travelling, it’s recommended to work with qualified professionals and get it right the first time around. Our team are qualified solicitors and notaries, who can assist with the entire process, from identifying which documents are required to obtaining attestation from the right embassy in the UK. 

Speak to our team

What is the process involved in attesting documents?

Attestation, otherwise known as legalisation, is the process of validating documents to ensure they are suited for use in another country. To do this, certain steps need to be followed, however, these can differ depending on the type of document and the country you require your documents for use in. 

If you fail to go through the correct process and obtain sufficient authentication of your documents, you risk these not being accepted abroad, which can waste time and money. 

The general process to follow when attesting documents involves:

  1. Before attesting documents can take place at the relevant embassy in the UK, certain types of documents will first need to be attested and/or notarised by a notary public or solicitor. Some documents that do not require notarisation include original UK birth, marriage or death certificates, original ACRO police certificates, or original medical reports signed by an FCO-registered UK doctor. 
  2. All documents will need to have an apostille stamp attached by the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). 
  3. For attestation at an embassy in the UK, the document must then be submitted to the relevant embassy for processing. 

Our embassy attestation services

Attesting and legalising documents requires a certain knowledge of different embassies’ regulations and requirements for submitting documents, which is why it’s important to work with professionals. 

Our team of experts have been providing document attestation, notary and apostille services to legalise all kinds of documents for use across the world for decades. We know the ins and outs of the process of sorting the correct paperwork, obtaining signatures and submitting these to the relevant authorities to make the process as streamlined and efficient as possible. 

Our document attestation services can take the entire process off your hands, saving you time, money, and hassle. We can also offer online services for those who aren’t able to visit us in person. 

Why choose MSC Notaries for attesting documents?

  • Decades of experience and expertise in the process of attesting and legalising documents for use in a vast range of countries. 
  • There is no risk of error or documents being rejected, as we understand the different requirements of countries around the world and the processes that need to be followed to ensure your documentation is accepted and everything runs smoothly.
  • Save tons of time, money, and hassle by allowing us to take the entire process off your hands. We can advise on all the documents required, and arrange the necessary steps to ensure these are ready for use abroad without you having to worry or travel to the relevant embassy.
  • Affordable pricing and free quotes are provided, based on the documents required, the country you require them to be attested for, and the process involved. 
  • A vast range of glowing client reviews and testimonials highlight the quality, efficiency, and reliability of our services. 

How much does it cost to attest documents?

Our prices vary depending on your requirements, however, generally, our affordable costs for attesting documents are as follows:

No. of documentsExpress service fee (3-4 working day turnaround)*Normal service fee (6-7 working day turnaround)*

For an accurate quote and estimated timeframes, please get in touch with our team for more information.


How long does it take to have a document attested?

The length of time it takes for a document to be attested and legalised for use is dependent on various factors such as document checking, witnessing the signatories, and the processing times at the relevant embassy. The processing times for embassy attestation can vary depending on the number of regulations involved and the embassy itself, with some embassies taking longer to process documents than others.

What is the difference between apostille and attestation?

While apostille is a form of authentication that is recognised among Hague Convention member countries, attestation refers to the broader process of ensuring that documents are valid for use in any specific country whether they are part of the convention or not. 

Apostille and attestation are used in different instances and even in conjunction with each other, depending on the requirements of the destination country where the documents are being used. 

Is document attestation mandatory for all countries?

No, attestation is not mandatory for all countries. Whether it is required depends on the specific policies and regulations of the destination country where the documents plan to be used. 

You will need to check and be aware of the regulations in the destination country to ensure that you have your documents legalised and attested using the required processes if required and avoid them being rejected. It can be easier to work with professional solicitors and notaries like our team at MSC Notaries, who are aware of the different processes required for certain countries and can make sure your documents are prepared and accepted the first time.

Can I get my documents attested if they are not in the official language of the destination country?

Yes, it is possible to have your documents attested if they are not in the official language of the destination country, however, it may mean there are additional steps required in the process. For example, some countries may require you to have the documents professionally translated by a certified translator and the translator may need to provide a notarised affidavit to prove it is an accurate translation. It’s crucial to check the specific requirements of the country you are supplying your documents to ensure you are compliant and avoid your documents being rejected. 

MSC Notaries offer professional certified translation services as well as notary, apostille and attestation, meaning we can help you with the entire process and ensure it runs smoothly.

What is the validity period of attested documents?

The validity period is another aspect that will depend on the type of document(s) and the specific requirements of the destination country. You should check the timeframe of validity to ensure your documents are valid with sufficient time for when you plan to travel or move abroad.

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