FCDO digitises process for validating official documents
More than 100 countries should accept PDF-based ‘e-Apostille’ legalised documents, but department tells applicants to check first
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has introduced digital processes to ‘legalise’ or validate official UK documents for overseas authorities, such as to support applications for working visas or managing property.
Applicants will be able to upload digital documents with electronic signatures rather than send physical versions to Britain. If they are valid, the FCDO’s UK Legalisation Office will add an ‘e-Apostille’ to a digitally-signed PDF of the original documents. Recipients can view the PDF using a standard reader and check its validity using an online service hosted by the GOV.UK website.
The office will continue to offer paper apostilles, which it says will be required for some types of document such as police records. However, the application process and validity checks by recipients can take place online.
The FCDO issued its first e-Apostille in December last year as part of a pilot and they have been accepted by authorities in Italy, the Netherlands, Panama and the Philippines. More than 100 countries which have signed the 1961 Apostille Convention should accept e-Apostilles, although the department advised applicants to check before applying.
“A digital Apostille solution has been many years in the making, but this new system is capable of providing a fully digital service,” said Chris Ward, FCDO’s head of public-facing services. “We want to continue to provide the best possible service to our customers and will develop the system further to meet a range of user needs.”
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