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South African document legalisation instructions for France


If you’re planning to use your South African documents in France, for business or personal reasons, the French authorities may require your documents to be legalised with an Apostille before they can accept them. Therefore, South African citizens and companies need to be aware of the South African document legalisation instructions for France. However, navigating the legalisation process can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with the requirements and procedures involved. In this comprehensive guide entitled South African document legalisation instructions for France, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about getting your South African documents legalised for France.

These instructions offer precise steps for verifying and legitimizing South African documents, ensuring their approval by French authorities and organizations. So whether you’re planning to work/study in France, apply for citizenship or travel for tourism purposes, read on to learn about the South African document legalisation instructions for France.

Overview of South African document legalisation instructions in France

The significance of South African document legalisation instructions for France goes beyond mere administrative procedures, it is a legal requirement. Indeed, when presenting a document originating in one country for use in another, the receiving party often requires proof of the authenticity of the signature and seal of the public official who executed, issued or certified a copy of the document. The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, or the Apostille Convention, has greatly simplified the process through a certificate called an Apostille, which eliminates the need for embassy or consular legalisation. More than 120 countries are now parties to the Convention, including South Africa and France.

Step 1: Check whether your documents can be legalised


You can get documents legalised if they’ve been issued by :

  • Home affairs: certificates such as a birth, marriage or death certificate, Letters of no impediment, Certificate of naturalisation or renunciation.
  • SAPS (South African Police Services): Police clearance certificates and certificates confirming expungement of criminal records.
  • Court: document signed and sealed by a court registrar or a judge such as a divorce decree.
  • Government department and signed by an official, such as a letter of confirmation of tax registration or a company certificate issued by CIPC.
  • HPCSA registered doctor, such as a medical certificate signed by a doctor

You can also get other documents legalised, as long as they’ve been certified by a South African ‘public official’, such as a South African notary for example: documents such as a power of attorney, a contract or a qualification certificate, copies of documents such as a passport or a driving licence. This is not an exhaustive list of all the documents you can get legalised.

Step 2: Make sure your personal documents are recent and valid

Applicants should verify document validity, as France rejects expired documents and certificates submitted for legalization, refusing to accept them.

Recent personal documents are crucial in the legalization process, typically offering the most reliable and up-to-date information sources. These documents offer the latest proof of a person’s identity, status, and qualifications, significantly decreasing the likelihood of discrepancies or errors. Certain documents must be issued recently (within 6 months in most cases) because they are subject to an expiry date. Examples of such documents include passports, visas, police clearance certificates (PPC) and driving licences. These documents have a limited period of validity and must be renewed regularly to ensure their continued legal status.

Certain Home Affairs documents like birth certificates, IDs, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees typically don’t have an expiration date. They are considered permanent documents and are valid indefinitely. Similarly, academic certificates such as degrees, diplomas, matriculation certificates and higher education certificates do not have an expiry date. They simply serve as permanent proof that you have met the required educational criteria.

Step 3: Check apostille requirements and obtain the right apostille


There are 2 types of apostille in South Africa:

  • DIRCO Apostille – Documents issued by a government department such as the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), South African Police Services (SAPS) etc… must be submitted to the Legalisation Section at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) for apostille in Pretoria.
  • High Court Apostille – Documents such as copies of travel documents (passports), driving licences or legal documents such as affidavits, powers of attorney, employment contracts and/or translations must be notarized by a Notary Public or translated by a Sworn Translator (if this service is required) and then submitted to the Registrar of any High Court of South Africa for Apostille.

Although both apostilles are equivalent and hold the same legal value, the French embassy in Pretoria and the French General Consulate in Cape Town have a preference for DIRCO apostilles over High Court apostilles. It is therefore important to obtain the apostille from the correct institution. If you are in any doubt, or if your document can only obtain a High Court Apostille, you should ask the French embassy where your document is to be sent and whether or not they will accept a High Court Apostille.


France and South Africa do not share the same official language. International law mandates official public documents to be translated into the receiving country’s official language by a sworn translator. Therefore, documents issued in South Africa in English must be translated into French, including the Apostille certificate, before submission to the French Embassy.

General information about apostille:

  • The Apostille Certificate is an A4 certificate that is attached to your document.
  • Once affixed, it must never be removed or it will lose its validity.
  • The Apostille certifies only the origin of the public document to which it relates. This certification affirms the genuineness of the signature or seal on the public document and the signatory’s official capacity. It does not, however, certify the content of the public document(s) to which it relates.
  • The Apostille can never be used to recognise a document in the country where it was issued, but only abroad.
  • Apostille certificates do not expire.

Global Apostille Services

Global Apostille is your one-stop shop for Apostille services. If you need Apostille services in Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, we can help!  We offer apostilles from Pretoria’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and from the High Courts. Our DIRCO Express Apostille service provides you with a guaranteed expedited Apostille within 5 days, which is faster than the standard DIRCO option which usually takes 4-5 weeks. We ensure that your important documents are properly certified in the shortest possible time. For more information on our services please contact us.

Tel: 012 348 3134| Mobile: 081 347 6060 | Email:

South African document legalisation instructions for France
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South African document legalisation instructions for France
The significance of South African document legalisation instructions for France goes beyond mere administrative procedures, it is a legal requirement. This is a comprehensive guide entitled South African document legalisation instructions for France, we'll provide you with everything you need to know about getting your South African documents legalised for France.
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Global Apostille Legalisation
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Please note that we are not a law firm and are not regulated as such.

Global Apostille is a Pretoria-based authentication and legalisation agency that assist corporations and individuals in South Africa in obtaining Apostilles and Embassy legalisation service.


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