An apostille is a certificate issued by a government agency confirming that the document to which it is attached is authentic and properly issued. It will be accepted in 118 countries that are signed up to the Hague convention. It should be noted that there are some notable non-signatories to the Hague convention such as Canada, but the USA and all EU countries are signed up to the treaty.
A UK company operating overseas may need to produce several apostilled documents to open a bank account or enter into a contract such as a lease on a shop in that location.
Apostilles may be needed by UK Companies that are either:
- Owned and controlled by non-UK residents to meet local requirements, or
- UK owned but operating in another country, either through a subsidiary or a branch organisation.
The UK is a signatory to the Hague convention. Documents relating to the formation of a UK company can be legalised and an apostille attached to each document. Arranging an apostille is a two-stage process:
- Legalisation - Documents such as a UK company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (see full list below) are legalised by a UK authorised solicitor or notary. Other documents such as a Certificate of Good Standing are issued by the Registrar of Companies (at a price) and do not need legalisation.
- Issuing and attaching the Apostille -The Apostille is issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), for a fee. The FCO is a branch of the UK government. They will check the authenticity of the document and check that the document has been properly legalised. If the FCO are satisfied that the document is authentic and properly legalised, they issue and attach to that document the Apostille.
Documents which can be apostilled
The following UK company documents can be apostilled:
- Form IN01 (The application to register a limited company)
- Certificate of incorporation
- Memorandum of association
- Articles of association
- Shares certificate
- Certificate of good standing
- Change of company name certificate
- Confirmation statement
- Annual accounts
- Audited Accounts
You should note that an apostille is attached to each document and not a combination of documents. Clients requesting three documents to be apostilled will be charged for three apostilles. We can, however, combine the Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association as one document.