Clients have a misguided view that documents to be presented in India must be further legalised at the Indian High Commission. We regularly have to reassure clients that this is NOT the case and that once the document has been verified and authenticated by a Notary Public and legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, there is absolutely no further formalities.
An Apostille is a certificate issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirming signature and seal of the Notary Public. This is accepted by a number of countries who are members of the Hague Conference and have entered into force, Convention 12 of 5 October 1962. INDIA IS A MEMBER COUNTRY.
However, documents which are to be presented in countries which are not members of the Hague Convention still require after the Apostille is attached, presentation to the foreign consulate, embassy or other diplomatic representation of the country where the document is to be used. This is known as ‘consular legalisation’.
Notaries are the oldest branch of the legal profession and their history dates back to Roman times and remain one of the only types of English lawyer recognised overseas.
Most documents which a notary deals with are destined for use in other countries. This could be dealing with for example, preparing and witnessing a power of attorney to sell property abroad, authenticating documents for immigration or emigration purposes, applying to marry or work abroad and authenticating company and business documents. Notaries provide a vital link in the legal chain between England and Wales and the rest of the world. Many transactions which involve an overseas element cannot be concluded without the input of a notary.
The greatest concentration of notaries can be found in London. However, notaries can be found all over the country. Notaries are regulated by the Master of the Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury and there are fewer than 1,000 notaries in the whole of England and Wales. It is indeed a privilege to be a member of such a distinguished, elite and ancient profession.
As stated by Michael Lightowler, the Immediate Past President’s suggestion in The Notary (Issue 68), the following needs to happen to address this issue:
“If citizens in India need to be assured concerning the authenticity of the signatures and seals of public officials in the UK, it should stick rigidly to the Apostille and reject everything else”
“The Indian Government (through the Ministry of External Affairs) should write to the IHC in London and Birmingham instructing them to desist from offering any kind of legislation services for documents falling within the Convention.”
“Also, it should educate and inform its citizens (starting with Government authorities involved in export and import of goods and international trade and all those involved with visas in India) that any form of legislation of documents by their High Commissions and Embassies abroad is not required and must not be sought and that the Apostille is the only form of verification which they need.”
If you have any queries on notarisation of documents or would like to make an appointment to see the notary at Bhogal Partners please telephone 0208 572 9867 to make an appointment.
Sushil Lever BSc (Hons)
Partner and Notary Public