The term "legalisation of documents" refers to the process whereby a signature, seal or stamp appearing on a document is certified as being genuine. Many types of documents can be involved, including: Powers of Attorney; company documentation; birth, marriage and death certificates; passports; and, academic qualifications. Documents must be endorsed by a Notary Public or other acceptable signatory before being submitted to the Office of HM Greffier for legalisation.
Originally, all documents leaving Guernsey that required legalisation for use overseas had to be sent to the Foreign Office in London. However, in 1989, under the provisions of Article 6 of the Hague Convention, authority to legalise local documents was transferred from the UK Government to the Office of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor (Government House) in Guernsey. In 1999, Government House delegated responsibility for undertaking the legalisation process to the Office of HM Greffier at the Royal Court. The Greffe now legalises documents on behalf of the Lieutenant-Governor.
The Hague Convention of 1961 abolished the need for documents being sent between Member States to be signed by a consular or diplomatic agent before being accepted for use. Instead, Member States agreed to accept documents issued in the territory of another contracting State, provided a certificate known as an "Apostille" was attached to it. The Apostille, when signed and sealed by an authorised signatory, confirms the authenticity of the signature, stamp and/or seal on the document.
When a document from a Member State is to be presented in a country which is not a contracting State, the document must be presented to the Embassy of the non-member county for further endorsement.
How do I have my documents legalised?
Documents should be submitted to the the Greffe under cover of a request form and presented with sufficient payment to cover the cost of the service and any applicable postal charges.
What is the cost involved?
The charge for legalising a document is £38.00 per apostille issued.
What payment methods are accepted?
Payment can be made by cash or cheque, made payable to the States of Guernsey. Payment by credit or debit card can be made at the Greffe, although credit card payments do attract a surcharge. Payment must be made at the time of application.
How long does the process take?
All documents are processed in strict order of receipt and whilst we cannot guarantee a processing time, it is normally the case that most documents are ready for collection within 24 hours of receipt of the application.
A Premium Service is available at a cost £77.00 per document. The service will provide for the document to be processed, where possible, within 15 minutes of presentation, enabling the client to wait for the document. Any document presented for immediate processing will be considered to be a "Premium Service" document.
Can I apply by post?
An application can be submitted by post to the Greffe. Applications need to include the document concerned, the request form and payment of the £37.00 fee. In addition, a surcharge of £5.00 is made for postal applications because we will only return your completed documents and apostille to you by recorded delivery to ensure their safety. If you are overseas, the surcharge may be higher. Please contact the Greffe for details.
Can my documents be returned by courier?
We will be happy to arrange to have your documents returned by courier, but only by prior arrangement with the Legalisation Office.
Can somebody collect my documents on my behalf?
Yes, but only if you have provided the Greffe with a Letter of Authorisation (signed by you) authorising them to do so. The person collecting the document must produce a copy of that letter to us when collecting the document, together with appropriate photographic identification.
Which countries are party to the Hague Convention
Please click here for a link to the countries that are party to the Convention.
What happens if the country in which my document is to be used is not a party to the Hague Convention?
Your document will need to be legalised in the normal way, but will then have to be submitted to the relevant Embassy in London for further endorsement before being presented for use in a non-member State. We will provide you with information about how to do this when returning your completed documentation to you.