Documents from a large number of countries require additional security about their authenticity (legalisation) or even their substantive reliability (verification). If you want to register with the municipal authority, if you want to get married or have a child acknowledged on the basis of foreign documents, the municipal authority will give you information about the need to legalise and/or verify these documents.
The purpose of legalisation and verification of documents is to obtain security about the authenticity and reliability of foreign documents. It mainly concerns deeds and court decisions. You need these documents in order to be included in the Gemeentelijke BasisAdministratie, or GBA (municipal personal records database) or in order to get married, get a divorce or have children acknowledged.
- Always contact the municipal authority first. The Netherlands are party to a number of international treaties that simplify the legalisation procedure. If a document originates from a country that is party to one of these treaties, documents may be exempt from legalisation or they may be subject to a simplified legalisation procedure. The municipal authority will be able to tell you if and how a document must be legalised;
- If it concerns a country that is party to the Apostille Convention, single legalisation will suffice. This means that the document certified by the issuing authority must be presented to a higher authority in the document's country of origin for legalisation. That higher authority usually is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Justice;
- If it concerns a country that is not party to the Apostille Convention, the document, after single legalisation, must again be legalised by the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country in question. They will authenticate the signature of the higher authority.
- When a document is substantively unreliable, it has to be verified;
- A verification request is nearly always made by the authority that requires the document. They will send their request to the municipal authority;
- The municipal authority forwards the request to the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken (Ministry of Foreign Affairs);
- The ministry sends the document to the Dutch representation in the document's country of origin. The embassy or consulate instructs the relevant authorities to verify the authenticity and contents of the document;
- The embassy or consulate then returns the document to the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken;
- The Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken adds a covering letter to the document and sends it to your municipal authority. In this letter, the ministry indicates whether the document is fake or forged, or that it is accepted.
You will need to bring the following
- You will need a recent original certified copy of the deed or decision;
- Sometimes this requirement to have a document legalised means that you need to take the document to your country of origin for the necessary declarations of authenticity;
- You can often have a document legalised with the aid of family in your country of origin;
- You will usually have to pay to have documents legalised. The Dutch representation does in any case levy charges for this procedure. These charges differ from country to country.
To have legal facts proven, you often require relevant documents. Legal facts include for example:
- change of name.
If the legal facts took place outside the Netherlands, you need to be able to submit foreign documents. There are various international agreements about the acceptance of documents between countries. If there is no agreement, the Netherlands demand double legalisation. Most European countries have agreed that they do not need to legalise each other's documents. If legalisation is required, a certified copy of a deed or legal decision usually suffices. The issuing authority may authenticate a document (legalisation).
Legalisation of a document
A higher authority legalises a document by authenticating the issuing authority's signature on the document itself.
Double legalisation means that, after the first legalisation, the Dutch representation in the country in question authenticates the signature of the higher authority.
Verification means that, apart from the origins of the document, its contents are also checked. If there are any doubts about the document's reliability, the Netherlands will demand verification. This is the strictest requirement to attach to a document.
A number of countries have agreed that single legislation suffices. In this process, a standard stamp (apostil) is placed on the document in question. For more information, we refer to the Apostille Convention under point 18 (other information).