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8 September 2021

A comprehensive guide to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) Apostille service

Woodcock Notary Public explains all the key information you need to know when getting your documents legalised in the UK.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What is FCDO

By Oli Winter, Marketing Intern

If you are looking to supply UK-issued documentation for official use in other countries, you will most likely be required to prove its genuineness by gaining an apostille, a seal provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).  

We have provided a guide on the FCDO to help you.

Why do I need an ‘apostille’?

An apostille is a stamped official certificate which the Legalisation Office will attach to your documentation once they are satisfied that any included signature, stamp or seal is genuine. The apostille certifies that your documents or certificates were signed or notarised by a UK public official. This ensures fraudulent documents cannot be used for official purposes overseas. 

If you apply for legalisation on your own, you would be required to use the postal service which may take up to 10 days. This is in addition to the time taken by courier services. However, Woodcock Notary Public will be able to assist you using our fast-track apostille service, reducing waiting times and ensuring your documents are ready for use as soon as possible.

Which documents can be legalised at the FCDO?

Your document must have been issued within the UK in order to use the FCDO legalisation service. If you want to use documents which were issued outside of the UK, the country of origin should legalise them.

Apostilles can be attached to a range of documents which you may be required to present in foreign jurisdictions. Common documents which often require a UK apostille include: 

  • Marriage Certificate Apostille
  • Police Clearance
  • Power of Attorney
  • Bona-fide Certificate
  • Medical Certificate
  • Birth Certificate Apostille
  • Leaving Certificate
  • Registration Certificate
  • Educational Documents


In the case of birth, marriage or death certificates, you may need to have the original document notarised. Other documents, including some educational certificates, can be notarised using a certified copy made by a solicitor. It is important to check the requirements of your target country so that you supply the correct documents for legalisation.

Do all countries require legalisation?

Legalisation requirements vary based on the country. However, our advisers will be happy to guide you on what to do to get your documents legalised based on your needs.

For a full list of the countries which require legalisation with the FCDO, please use our country checker tool.

What is the legalisation process?

Woodcock Notary Public can assist you with the entire legalisation process, including notarisation and the attachment of an apostille. Once your documents have been notarised, we will present them to the FCDO to certify their authenticity.

Depending on the urgency of your case, we offer both standard and fast-track services. This allows you to choose the best option for your situation, and get your documents back as fast as possible.

After gaining an apostille, you may still be required to take further steps to have your documents fully certified. We will be able to assist you with gaining any further certification from a Chamber of Commerce, Embassy or Consulate.

We can either return the documents to you, or forward them directly to your client on your behalf after the legalisation process is complete. Scanned copies and tracking numbers will be emailed to you so you can stay updated on the progress being made.

How much will it cost?

As each client requires a slightly different service depending on whether full legalisation at an embassy is required, costs may vary.

If you would like to find out the exact fees based on your documents and preferred service, please get in touch so we can advise you appropriately.

Contact us

Woodcock Notary are experts on legalisation.

If you need our help, contact us today.


If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services,
contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0330 133 6480 or email

If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services, contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0330 133 6480 or email