South Africa is a signatory of the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, also known as the Apostille Convention, and is verified to issue apostilles. The Hague Convention is compiled for apostille documents to be valid in other signatory nations. The intention is to replace outdated and expensive legal procedures by introducing easier ways to get public documents legalised. Travelling overseas comes with unfamiliar errands and preparations. This run-around can have you asking yourself “Where can I apostille documents in South Africa?”.
For South African citizens and foreign nationals who require their South African official documents legalised for use overseas, the South African High Court and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) have the authority to apostille public documents. The traveller who holds the apostille is permitted to present their documents outside South Africa, where countries are members of the international treaty.
High Court Apostille
The Hague Convention designates each contracting state to appoint authorities to issue apostilles. The South African High Court has been given jurisdiction by the state, as a competent authority to carry out the operation of issuing apostilles. To obtain an apostille from the High Court, you have to approach the High Court registrar as they deal with all the administration. Contact information of the registrars in the Gauteng Division is as follows:
Chief Registrar: Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg
Ms Roanne Bramdaw
Telephone: +27 11 335 0150 / +27 10 494 8402
Chief Registrar: Gauteng Division, Pretoria
Ms Tumelo Ledwaba (Acting)
Telephone: +27 12 492 6694 / +27 12 315 7412
The High Court’s processing time for an apostille is 6 weeks. The procedure to obtain an apostille from the High Court is as follows:
Step 1. Have your copy of your document notarised.
Step 2. Approach the High Court’s registrar for an apostille.
Step 3. Collect your apostille within 6 weeks.
An individual who would require a High Court apostille would be someone travelling abroad to a country that is a party to the Hague Convention and whose embassy accepts High Court apostille. For instance, many students are enrolling in universities overseas and receiving bursaries. Admission to a foreign university requires the student to present a National Senior Certificate or recent qualifications as obtaining apostille for the certificate is compulsory. For bursary recipients, a requirement might be a birth certificate that will need an apostille. The High Court takes 2-5 days to process an apostille.
DIRCO’s mandate is to support the development of international law and the enforcement of its provisions. Therefore, DIRCO is legally permitted to apostille government documents. The DIRCO Legalisation section legalises official documents created within the Republic of South Africa for use outside the Republic of South Africa DIRCO’s processing time for an apostille has increased from taking a maximum of 2 days to 4-6 weeks due to the repercussions of Covid-1. As of 14 May 2021, DIRCO no longer accepts requests for personal submissions and walk-ins.
The recent procedure to obtain an apostille from DIRCO is as follows:
Step 1. Send a DICRO an email containing apostille as a subject matter.
Step 2. DIRCO will respond with an appointment date for you to courier your documents for apostille.
Step 3. Courier your documents to DIRCO.
An individual who would require an apostille from DIRCO would be travelling abroad to a country that is a party to the Hague Convention, whose embassy accepts High Court apostille. There are a variety of public documents requested abroad for individuals either travelling for pleasure, relocating, or transferring for employment purposes. The type of documents usually requested abroad that require apostilling are:
- Academic Qualifications
- Administrative Documents
- Birth Certificates
- Court Documents
- Death Certificates
- Employment Letters
- Identification Documents
- Marriage Certificates
If the country you are travelling to is not a signatory of The Hague Convention, it must follow an authentication process to legalise public documents. Authentication entails having the relevant documents notarised or legalised by the embassy. Document authentication is also provided by DIRCO and the exact steps to obtain apostille apply.
Apostilles from The High Court and DIRCO hold the same legal value, certifying the documents’ originality per the guidelines of the Hague Convention. Although the two apostilles are legally authorised, certain embassies prefer DIRCO’s apostille.
In summary, The High Court is appointed by the state to issue the apostille. To obtain an apostille from the High Court, you have to approach the High Court registrar. The registrar will request a copy of your notarised document and the apostille will be issue to you within 2-5 working days.
Global-Apostille legalisation service.
At Global Apostille we deliver official document legalisation through the High Court of Pretoria or the DIRCO at a more convenient time. We are aware of the obstacles that come with preparing to travel abroad and can take off the stress by helping you obtain an apostille for your trip. Our team has years of experience assisting individuals and firms with obtaining apostille documents in South Africa for use in countries that are parties to the Hague Convention. To secure your apostille with us, you will need to present the documents that require an apostille so we can process your request.