Attestation, legalisation, notarisation – what is the difference?

Whether you are setting up a new business in the UAE, applying for an employment visa or sponsoring your family there are a wide range of documents that need to be presented in support of these processes.

You’ll no doubt have heard the terms attestation, notarisation and legalisation used in relation to these documents, and as is often the case these terms are used interchangeably which can further confuse the issue of what actually needs to be done. To simplify this, we’ve broken down the terminology to help you navigate through it.

Attestation is the name given to the end-to-end process of preparing a document issued in one country to ensure it is recognised and can be used in another country.

The attestation process is made up of a number of different steps both in the country of issue and the destination country. These steps differ depending on where the document originates from and the type of document – for example the process differs if it is an educational certificate or company document.

Often notarisation is the first step in the process and is carried out by a Public Notary (or in some countries a registered solicitor). Notarisation authenticates and certifies the document and is required in the following circumstances:

  1. To authenticate/witness signatures where a signature is required in front of a Public Notary or other duly authorised body
  2. To certify documents as a true copy of the original.

Legalisation is the term used to refer to the application of a special stamp or seal at each of the Government bodies involved in the attestation process. Typically this is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in the country of issue as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in the UAE. Some documents may also require additional stamps from the Education Department, Law Society, etc.

Once a document has had the final stamp applied from MOFA in the UAE it is said to be fully attested.

Some key points to note are:

  • Notarisation is not always the first step in the attestation process, nor is it always followed by legalisation.
  • The requirements are entirely based upon the type of document, country of issue and the specific requirements of the requesting authority in the destination country.

Links Group has a wealth of experience in this area and can assist you with all of your attestation requirements for a variety of documents issued in over 70 countries. We will work with you to review your documents, and using our expansive global network we will obtain the relevant stamps from all the relevant government departments whilst safeguarding the integrity of your documents.

If you require any documents to be notarised, attested or legalised please get in touch with an expert member of the team who will be able to assist you on or give us a call on +971 4 446 3900 .