Each year, our team processes thousands of documents, ranging from birth certificates to powers of attorney. We are often asked, “Can you legalize a copy of my original document?” The most common response is, “It depends”.


It is possible to obtain an Apostille certificate for an original document or for a certified copy of that document. Certain government documents require originals, while others require copies. It may also be necessary to submit your document to the country requesting an apostille in a particular manner.

Documents That Require Originals

For certain documents, originals are always required. Under government regulations, apostilles cannot be issued with copies. Copies, even if signed by a notary public or solicitor, are not accepted. It is only possible to legalize birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates if they are original documents or copies issued by the registry. Criminal records and medical records can also be apostilled.

Documents That Can Be Legalized as Copies or Originals

Our legalization service accepts both certified copies and original documents. If you are unsure whether the authority requesting the apostille will accept a certified copy, please contact them directly. 


Education certificates and other credentials are generally certified copies, while letters of confirmation of study are generally considered originals. This rule has no exceptions, but some organizations, such as the UAE and Azerbaijan, now require apostilles on original documents. Columbia usually requires the legalization of original degree certificates.

Documents That Always Require Copies

The legalization of certain documents requires copies that have been certified by a notary or solicitor. Documents such as passports, residency certificates, driving licenses, and immigration documents fall into this category of certified copies which prevent the original documents from being damaged or altered.


How can you apostille legal documents in South Africa if you live abroad? Document agents can help you apostille your documents quickly and easily. DocAssist can assist you with this process. We send all the necessary documents and information to Dirco for legalization after we receive them, and then DHL delivers them to you after the legalization process is complete. Contact DocAssist today for additional information or to schedule a meeting. 


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