Can the UK Apostille be issued to a Document Prepared in a Foreign Language?

As per the terms of the Hague Convention, the Apostille is issued to a document originating from one country in order for this to be legally recognised in another member country. For example, a UK birth certificate that has been issued with the apostille should be legally recognised in the USA.

Overall, this does prove to be an effective system to simplify the circulation of documents throughout countries that are part of the apostille convention. However, one clear caveat of this is the fact that there is not a common language shared by all of these countries.

An overseas authority in Russia, for example, may well agree that a document prepared in English, with an apostille attached, is a recognised legal document. Nonetheless, this is counterproductive if the authority in question cannot understand the contents of the document.

Differences in the common languages between countries often necessitate the need for documents to be translated. We are often asked if it is possible for the UK apostille to be issued to a document that has been prepared in a language other than English. Ultimately, as long as the document has been prepared and certified by a recognised UK legal official this should be eligible for the UK apostille.

As an example, when an individual is appointing an overseas agent to act on their behalf they will usually prepare a power of attorney. To illustrate the point of this article, a power of attorney prepared in the French language, to appoint a French agent, would qualify for the UK Apostille as long as the document is signed in the presence of a UK solicitor or notary.

For all intents and purposes, documents of this nature that have been signed in the presence of a UK solicitor or notary are considered to be UK documents irrespective of the language they have been prepared in. The solicitor or notary can certify the documents as they are simply certifying the fact that they have witnessed an individual signing said document.

Likewise, translations of UK documents can be issued with the apostille providing they have been correctly certified by a UK solicitor or notary public. In some cases, both the original English version of a document and a translation thereof may require legalisation.

Not all non-English documents can be legalised with the apostille. The determining factor is whether or not the document originates from the UK and has been correctly certified in the UK. Translations prepared by embassies or documents issued overseas cannot be issued with the UK apostille under any circumstances.

We can arrange for the apostille to be issued to all genuine UK documents in as little as 1-2 working days. We can also provide a translation service where needed. Please contact us today for further guidance.

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The Apostille Service are pleased to provide advice on a wide range of document legalisation matters. Our team of advisors contribute to the blog.