Our team processes thousands of documents every year, from birth certificates to powers of attorney. We are frequently asked, “can you legalize a copy of my original document?” to which the answer is almost always, “it depends”.


An Apostille certificate can be issued on an original document or a certified copy. Some government documents require copies, while others require originals. There may also be a preference for how you submit your document to the country requesting the apostille.

Documents That Require Originals

Originals are always required for certain documents. Apostilles cannot be issued with photocopies under government regulations. Copies, even if signed by a solicitor or notary public, are not processed. Certificates of birth, marriage, and death can only be legalized if they are original documents or copies issued by the registry. Apostilles are also placed on criminal record checks and medical records.

Documents That Can Be Legalized as Originals or Copies

Most of the documents we legalize can be processed as certified copies or originals. If you are unsure if they will accept a certified copy of a document, it is best to seek advice from the authority requesting the apostille. 


In general, degree certificates and other educational credentials are usually certified copies, whereas a letter confirming study is often treated as an original. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this rule. Some organizations in the UAE and Azerbaijan now expect original documents to have an apostille. Columbia normally asks for original degree certificates to be legalized.

Documents That Always Require Copies

A few documents can only be legalised with copies that are certified by a notary or solicitor. Certified copies prevent the original government documents from being damaged or altered. Documents such as passports, residency papers, driving licences, and immigration papers fall into this category.


If you live abroad, how can you apostille legal documents in South Africa? A document agent can assist you quickly and easily. At DocAssist, we can help you apostille your legal documents. Once we receive all the required information and documents, they are sent to Dirco for legalization. Once the apostilization process is completed, DHL will then deliver them to you. For more information or to get the ball rolling, get in touch with DocAssist today. 


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