Apostille for South African documents can be obtained at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria. However, DIRCO’s processing time has changed from taking a maximum of two days to a dragging of four to five weeks within 2 years leaving many citizens asking; Why is DIRCO Apostille taking so long?
As businesses and individuals navigate an increasingly globalised world, the importance of document legalisation cannot be overstated. Often, it’s a crucial step in establishing your credibility abroad, proving the authenticity of your documents and ensuring smooth cross-border transactions. However, when it comes to obtaining an apostille in South Africa, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO backlogs can pose significant challenges and delays. This article provides new information regarding the reasons why Dirco Apostille is taking so long and possible solutions and alternatives to Dirco Apostille.
Impact of COVID-19 on DIRCO Apostille
It did not always take long to get a DIRCO apostille. Prior to the pandemic, DIRCO used to issue apostille certificates within 1 to 2 working days and the legalisation section at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) which is located at the OR Tambo building in Pretoria used to accept walk-ins. It was even possible for individuals to receive apostille certificates same day. However, the COVID‑19 pandemic disrupted life in South Africa and around the world. As the outbreak of the virus evolved rapidly, governments – South Africa’s included – needed to act quickly to respond to the crisis. The promptness of South African authorities to implement a national lockdown, physical distancing and closure of non-essential services led to DIRCO changing its procedures, which changed how apostille certificates were issued and its processing time.
Indeed, in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, new measures were implemented to reduce the spread of the virus. For example, DIRCO was no longer accepting personal submissions from walk-in citizens. Although the pandemic is behind us now, the measures still remain, so if you need to submit documents, there are two options available to you: use a registered courier company of your choice to act on your behalf or send them via registered mail through the Post Office. When your apostilled documents are ready you’ll be notified by email. You will then need to make an appointment for collection. Once the appointment has been made the courier service or Post Office will collect them on your behalf and send them back to you. This procedure is extremely slow and challenging and is the primary reason why Dirco Apostille is taking so long.
Backlog Due to COVID-19 Measures
The pandemic caused various disruptions that impacted the typical operation of government departments in South Africa and their ability to deliver services efficiently. For more than two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched South African government systems, restricting their ability to provide important services such as apostille for citizens and individuals when needed. The simple truth is that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) still tackles the wide-ranging impacts the pandemic has brought.
The legalisation section of DIRCO which deals with Apostille & Document Authentication is struggling with a large backlog of requests, another reason why Dirco Apostille is taking so long. As of now (August 2023), the current processing time for documents sent directly to DIRCO for the Apostille certificate is approximately 25 working days. This delay can potentially disrupt plans for those looking to use their documents overseas within a short timeframe. For each person who cannot receive their document legalization on time, this delay may have severe consequences, ranging from the cancellation of your visa appointment to increased travel costs and so forth. Many citizens are frustrated and dissatisfied with this situation.
Alternatives to DIRCO Apostille
If obtaining an apostille certificate from DIRCO in a timely manner is not possible or difficult, there are other options that can be pursued. One such option is to obtain a High Court apostille, which serves as an alternative certificate that confirms the authenticity of your document. DIRCO and High Court apostille serve the same purpose, which is to validate the originality of the documents under the rules and regulations outlined by the Hague Convention. This means that there is no difference between the two apostilles and the certificates issued from both entities have the same legal value and the High court takes one to two working days to issue apostille certificates.
However, although the two apostilles weigh the same legally, Embassies and consulates of countries like France or Korea prefer the use of the DIRCO Apostille over than High Court Apostille. This does not in any way mean that the Apostille could possibly differ, it is just legal preference. So, it’s important to check with the authorities in the country where you plan to submit the apostille to ensure that the High Court apostille will be sufficient for their requirements before proceeding. It’s always advisable to confirm the necessary documentation and legal procedures with the relevant authorities beforehand to avoid any issues or complications later on.
How Global Apostille Dirco Express Service Can Help
Do you need your documents apostilled quickly at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)? Whether for business or private reasons, Global-Apostille can arrange a fast and reliable 5-day guaranteed – express service for you. We can have your documents apostilled at DIRCO within 5 days ready for use in a foreign country. The Premium DIRCO Legalisation Service is suitable for emergency applications where time is of the essence. Our Premium DIRCO Apostille Service is available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town and is part of our full range of Apostille and Legalisation services which are available to both private and business people. We’ve designed our service with convenience and reliability in mind. We handle all types of documents, from personal papers like birth certificates and diplomas to corporate documents like Certificates of Incorporation or Tax Certificates.
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