Apostille Services Frequently Asked Questions

The origin of the word Apostille

The word “Apostille” (pronounced a-pos-TEE, not a-pos-TEAL or a-pos-TILL-ee) is of French origin. It comes from the French verb “apostiller.”,

which derives from the old French word postille meaning “annotation”, and before it the Latin word postilla, a variation of the word postea, which means “thereafter, afterwards, next”

(Usage of the words “Apostille” and “apostiller.” dates back to the end of the 16th century in France; they were included in the first edition of the Dictionary of the Académie française in 1694, which provided the following definition: “Apostille: An addition in the margin of a written document or at the bottom of a letter.

During the negotiations on the Convention, the term “Apostille” was preferred because of its novelty. According to the reporter: “Following a discussion on terminology [in the French language], the word Apostille may have been preferred because of its appealing novelty , the other suggestion having been attestation).

The meanings of the word Apostille described above are still valid today.

What exactly is an Apostille Certificate?
An Apostille Certificate is an official government Certificate printed or stamped onto the reverse side of a single page document or attached to multiple paged documents with green notary ribbon making it become one inseparable document. It authenticates the seal and or signature of the public official or authority such as a notary or registrar issuing the document.
Why do I need an Apostille Certificate?

Prior to the introduction of Apostille Certificates, the burden on international governments, law courts, universities, businesses and other organisations to ascertain whether or not a foreign public document was authentic and reliable, was quite onerous and difficult to assess.

 To overcome these predicaments, on the 5 October 1961, The Hague Convention abolished the requirement of formal legalisation of foreign public documents by Embassies or Consulates in a successful attempt to prevent these problematical appraisals having to be made.

 The Convention reduced all of the cumbersome formalities of embassy or consulate legalisation to the simple delivery of a Certificate in a prescribed form, entitled "Apostille", to be issued by the appropriate government department of any country ratifying the Convention.

In which countries does the Apostille Convention apply. How to read and understand the status table.

The Apostille Convention only applies if both the country where the public document was issued and the country where the public document is to be used are parties to the Convention. A comprehensive and updated list of the countries where the Apostille Convention applies, or will soon apply, is available in the Apostille Section of the Hague Conference website – look for the link entitled Status table of the Apostille Convention.

The Status table of the Apostille Convention has two parts: the first part lists countries that have joined the Apostille Convention and are also Members of the Hague Conference (i.e., the Organisation that developed the Convention); the second part lists countries that have joined the Apostille Convention but are not Members of the Hague Conference.In other words, a country does not need to be a Member of the Hague Conference to be party to the Apostille Convention.

When checking the Status table of the Apostille Convention, always keep the following in mind:

 Check if both the country where the public document was issued and the country where the document is to be used are listed in either part of the Status table.

It does not matter whether a country appears in the first or the second part of the Status table – the Convention applies equally to Members and non-Members of the Organisation.

Check the date of entry into force of the Convention for both countries. Look for the column entitled ‘EIF’ – only after that date can the relevant country issue and receive Apostilles.

There are different ways for a country to become a party to the Convention (ratification, accession, succession or continuation), but these differences have no impact on how the Convention operates in a country.

If one of the countries has acceded to the Convention, check that the other country has not objected to that accession; to find out, see the column entitled ‘Type’ next to the acceding country’s name and check if there is a link entitled ‘A**’ – if so, click on it and check whether the other country is listed.

 Check whether the Convention applies to the entire territory of a country or only to parts of it; to find out, see if there is a link in the columns entitled ‘Ext’ and ‘Res/D/N’ – if so, click on it and read the relevant information.

Do not confuse the Status table of the Apostille Convention with other lists of countries on the Hague Conference website, such as the list of Members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law or status tables of other Hague Conventions. A country may be party to one or several of the many other Hague Conventions but not to the Apostille Convention, or a country may be party to the Apostille Convention without being party to any other Hague Convention.

Louwrens Koen

Attorney, Conveyancer and Notary Public
List of popular documents frequently legalised with Apostille Certificate for use outside the borders of South-Africa

 Virtually any South-African public document can be legalised by either an Apostille Certificate or Authentication process.

 Here is a list of Popular South-African Public Documents that we legalise on a daily basis:

  •  Permission letter for minor children to travel or visit overseas;
  • Powers of Attorney;
  • University degrees, University Academic Transcripts;
  • College diploma;
  • Technicon Diploma;
  • Matric Certificate;
  • School certificate;
  • Doctor, Dentist applications for overseas appointments;
  • HPCSA applications South-Africa;
  • Birth Certificates;
  • Death Certificate;
  • Marriage Certificate;
  • Divorce Certificates;
  • Company Incorporation Documentation;
  • Close Corporation Documentation;
  • Marital status documents;
  • Letters of No Impediment;
  • Land Transfer and Mortgage documents for transactions outside SA borders;
  • Notarised copy of Passport, Drivers License and other identity documents;
  • Police Clearance Certificate ("no criminal record") issued by South African Police Services;
  • Applications for employment overseas with supplementary documentation; Contracts;
  • Affidavits;
  • Declarations;
  • Permission for minor child to travel with one parent or unattended;
  • Notarised Copies of Document;
  • Applications for employment overseas;
  • Miscellaneous notarised documents for use overseas.

 This list is not exhaustive. If you have a document not listed above which you require apostilled, contact us to make inquiries or get a quotation. Should you have any questions regarding our services, need a quotation or want to proceed with legalising your documents please contact us or visit our offices.

Why use Louwrens Koen Attorneys South African Apostille Certificate document legalisation service?

Benefits of using our apostille and legalisation service

We save you time – Do you really want to spend time researching the process, finding specialised attorneys and notaries, making appointments, standing in ques and travelling to and from the notary, governmental departments and the registrars office?

We save you money – Not only do we save you travel costs but due to economies of scale we offer the complete service at a very competitive price and time frame.

Quick service – If we are certifying your documents this is included in our normal processing time. You do not lose any hours or days organising your own certification. We legalise batches of documents on a daily basis.

Attorney Firm – We handle all your documents in-house. Completely safe and confidential.

Complete Service – Let us handle your documents while you get on with everything else. We check, certify, legalise and attest your documents.

When will I need to get a document translated?

If you require a document to be used in a country that does not have English as the main language, you may be required to have the document translated. For example, a document for use in Brazil may be required to be translated to Portuguese. The requirement may be that the Portuguese translation is the document that needs to be signed and witnessed. We can arrange for a sworn translator to do a legal translation of the document. The notary may then be able to witness and attest to the signature on the document.

What are the effects of an Apostille?

An Apostille only certifies the origin of the public document to which it relates: it certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document and the capacity in which this was done.

An Apostille does not certify the content of the public documents to which it relates.

Apostilles are not grants of authority and do not give any additional weight to the content of underlying documents.

An Apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued – Apostilles are strictly for use of public documents abroad.

It is up the country where the Apostille is to be used to decide how much weight to give to the underlying public document.

An Apostille only certifies the origin of the public document to which it relates, never the content of that document.

Countries not subscribing to the Hague Apostille Convention

The following countries have NOT AGREED to participate in "The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents"












Saudi Arabia






Sierra Leone





Kiribati (Tarawa)

Solomon Islands

Burkina Faso





Sri Lanka






















China, Peoples Republic of








United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Cote d'Ivoire






Dominican Republic



East Timor













North Korea












Papua New Guinea


Guinea – Bissau



What are meant by Authenticate and authentication
Authentication is a generic term that commonly refers to the process of verifying, or “authenticating”, the origin of a public document. “Authentication” and "legalisation” are sometimes used synonymously, and “authentication” may also be used to refer to the apostillisation process.
What type of document can be authenticated by an Apostille Certificate?
Virtually any public document can be legalised by an Apostille Certificate. Here is a list of Popular South-African Public Documents that is Apostillized:
Consent letter for children to travel or visit overseas;
Powers of Attorney;
University, School degrees, certificates and transcripts certified by an authorised official or     copies certified by a Notary Public;
Doctor and Dentist applications for overseas appointments;
Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates;
Change of Name documents;
Marital status documents;
Land Transfer documents;
Certificate of Incorporation of South-African Company;
Notarised copy of Passport, Drivers Licence and other identity documents;
Divorce Decree  issued by the Court;
Police Certificate ("no criminal record") issued by South African Police Services;
Miscellaneous notarised documents for use overseas

This list is not exhaustive. If you have a document not listed above which you require apostilled, email us for free professional guidance.
Document Legalisation Services
Apostille Certificate Services SA
Embassy Attestation Service
Louwrens Koen Attorneys
Tel 087 010 733

Louwrens Koen Attorneys delivers a comprehensive Apostille Legalisation Certificate Service for documents destined for any country in the world.

Providing apostilles for all SA documents with embassy attestation when required.