Legalization is the process of proper authentication or screening of documents by the high commission, the embassy or the consulate (as the case may be) of the country in which the document is to be used after it is attested by a Notary Public in Singapore. It is the official confirmation of the originality of the documents, i.e. confirmation that the stamp, seal or the signature showing on the document is genuine. Hence, the document executed in Singapore for use, for instance in Dubai would be legalized by the UAE Embassy. In United States of America and many other countries, the process of legalization is also referred to as ‘Consularisation’.
This process of legalization can be a reason for delay in international transactions or litigation processes. Therefore, there is an international treaty, known as the Hague Convention, ‘Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, 1961’. Within this treaty, all documents, including the notary acts, which have been carried out in the province of the contracting state and which have to be produced in another contracting state do not need to be legalized. Rather, a simple certificate, called the ‘Apostille’ will be adequate for all the formalities. This certificate can be issued in the prescribed form from the competent authority of the state from where the document is derived or originated from.
However, Singapore is not a party to the Hague Convention. Hence in Singapore, legalization of the document has to be procured for certain documents to be used overseas.
Legalization of documents is very important for business or personal matters where pertinent business related documents or personal documents required overseas are to be attested or certified as original or true copy. For this, a notary certificate issued and signed by the notary public is duly authenticated by the Singapore Academy of Law and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the receiving country’s high commission, embassy or consular office.
In Singapore legalization is a complete chain involving few steps. It is very important to follow each and every step properly to get the proper authentication of the documents.
This is done by the notary public by signing on the document and issuing a Notarial Certificate and affixing the notary seal thereon. The notary public is to witness the signature of a person signing a document or certify a document as original or true copy.
This process is done by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) whereby the SAL confirms that the Notary Public is duly appointed by the Board.
This is the third process under which the documents authenticated by the SAL are further presented before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for taking the documents forward for legalization process.
Finally, legalization, is done by the high commission, embassy or the consulate of the relevant country located in Singapore. The main aim of this process is another round of verification of the documents. Each high commission, embassy or consulate has its own requirements for legalization. Some may only require a fee while others may have some other requirements. The person submitting the documents for legalization has to check with that relevant body for its requirements.
This four step verification process is very crucial, especially when you have to deal with any cross-border legal or business related transactions. These processes give confirmation that the documents are thoroughly signed, stamped, verified and sealed by top levels of Singapore and the relevant body of the country where the documents are to be used.