Coronavirus (COVID-19) - FCO Stop Issuing Apostilles

The FCO is now OPEN - This is an article from March 2020.

The FCO sent an update on the Legalisation Office apostille service. Due to limited staffing levels they can no longer provide apostilles for the general public or business customers (like us). They can only assist people with immediate and urgent travel needs with exceptional circumstances. DO NOT contact the FCO with requests for non-urgent documents.


Unfortunately at present the legalisation service is still suspended. Whilst we are reviewing this daily, the impacts of Covid-19 have meant that our staffing levels are not currently in a position to allow us to operate the service and continue receiving documents. We are doing our utmost to process the documents we have left in our office, and have created an urgent escalation channel that customers can contact should they believe their document has an exceptional circumstance by which it needs legalising. This will include situations such as repatriation efforts and imminent travel needs to prevent being stranded.

In addition, we are implementing a temporary solution for customers who are unable to obtain apostilles, the details of which are below-

We have now finalised the letter for customers to use with receiving authorities for urgent documentation whilst the Legalisation Office is temporarily unable to provide physical apostilles.

Our website will be updated as soon as possible to provide the following advice:

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK’s competent authority for legalisation of documents under the Hague Convention, confirms that the United Kingdom is currently unable to accept documents for legalisation or apply apostilles after 23 March 2020. We will endeavour to resume services as soon as possible.

Customers may wish to contact the authority to whom they wish to submit the documents, present the attached letter and ask if the authority would be prepared exceptionally to accept a document without an apostille given the very challenging circumstances.

Customers with urgent and exceptional requirements for legalisation, who have been unable to obtain agreement for the submission of documents without an apostille, should contact UrgentLegalisation@FCO.Gov.UK, or call our telephone helpline on 03700 002244 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm).

The FCO hope that people will accept the following letter- Letter from The Legalisation Office

What to do if you need an apostille?

  1. Direct the person requesting you obtain the apostille to this page and the government website.
  2. Send them a copy of this FCO letter explaining the situation - 
  3. If absolutley necessary, they can email a scan of the document to the FCO to see if the signature or seal 'looks' like it is correct.
  4. If you do not urgently need the apostille, please monitor this site for updates. As soon as we are able to issue apostilles on our fast next day service we will let customers know
The following are a list of circumstances which the FCO would deem as urgent/exceptional reasons for requiring legalisation.
  • Death/bereavement i.e. documents relating to the repatriation of a body
  • Potential imprisonment
  • Potential deportation
  • In addition, wthe FCO would also consider any trade/business documents specifically relating to the export of medical supplies – MHRA certificates, for example.

We thank you for your understanding while the FCO and the UK public protect their friends and families. We hope you all stay safe and healthy.

About the Author

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