Legalizing the signature of the official who signed the original document is known as an apostille. SA-issued documents that will be used overseas can be affixed with an Apostille Stamp from the High Court or the Department of Foreign Affairs (DIRCO).


An Apostille Certificate can only be obtained if the country receiving the South African document is a signatory to the Hague Convention. Apostilles may not be issued by diplomatic or consular representatives of South Africa abroad, only certificates of authenticity.

Can Private Documents Be Apostilled?

Through the apostillisation process, an apostille may be affixed to an SA-issued document so that it can be used abroad. Apostilles act as the legalisation of the signature of an official that signed the original document. Documents that can be apostilled include:


  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Proof of education such as degrees, diplomas and certificates 
  • Notarially certified copies of documents
  • Notarially certified translations
  • Judicial decisions
  • Extracts from the commercial register
  • Other notarial documents such as last will, declarations and authorisations


In the following instances, the apostille can only be issued for the original document: 


  • Death certificates
  • Letters of no-impediment
  • Marriage certificates
  • Adoption documents
  • Criminal records (no more than six months old)
  • Documents issued by the ministry of traffic


Dirco will not accept documents that are unstamped or unsigned. They cannot legalize copies of these documents. 


It is possible that some documents are too old to be apostilled. Usually, that occurs due to DIRCO not having samples or signatures. Rejecting documents older than a year is standard procedure.


It is the duty of the Company and Intellectual Property Commission secretary to sign patents, trademarks, and commercial documents, except for documents authenticated by a notary or registrar of the supreme court. All commercial documents (certificate of origin, commercial invoice) must be certified by the Chamber of Commerce.


Certification by the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (UMALUSI) is required for graduation diplomas. Umalusi requires that the applicant submit a certified copy of their diploma (no older than three months). The Department of Basic Education (DBE) must certify diplomas issued before 1992.


For doctors to issue documents, they must be certified by the Health Profession Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The HPCSA certifies a doctor’s license.


Need to have some legal documents apostilled? DocAssist can help. For more information, get in touch with the team today. 


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