Authentication of documents involves a process of certifying documents in Nigeria, while legalization of a document in Nigeria connotes the certification of a document, which has already been authenticated at the embassy or mission of a foreign country the document will be used or presented. Prior to legalization of document, such a document must be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja. Since Nigeria is not a part member of the Hague Apostille Convention, which abolishes the necessity of legalization for Foreign Public Documents, apostille stamp is not issued in Nigeria. The replacement of the apostille in Nigeria is actually the authentication done at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
STEPS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR AUTHENTICATION & LEGALIZATION
- Usually, the first step is to notarize the document, since it is will be required to be used abroad. The notary public are usually lawyers specially authorized to notarize documents.
- The next important step is to take the document required to be notarized to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Abuja for the authentication.
- The applicant must pay the prescribed fee and submit proof of payment at the Ministry.
- The Ministry will carry out their due diligence or necessary confirmation and subsequently authenticate the documents if found to be genuine
- Thereafter, the applicant can appl for the legalization of the same document at the relevant embassy.
- Most embassies charge various fees for different documents before legalization of the document.
- Where the document to be authenticated or legalized involves an academic document, an attestation must be done at the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja.
TYPES OF DOCUMENTS THAT CAN BE AUTHENTICATED OR LEGALIZED
- Birth Certificate or Attestation of Birth
- Marriage Certificate
- Divorce Judgement and Certificates
- Single Status Certificate
- Police Character Certificate
- Academic Records (results, degree certificates and transcripts)
- Certificate of Incorporation & other incorporation documents
- Declaration of Assets
- Bank Statements
- Sponsorship Letters,
- Commercial Transaction Documents, among others.
In summary, where a birth certificate, police character certificate or any other certificate is usually to be legalized, such a document may be notarized firstly by a Notary Pubic; authenticated at Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, before finally legalized at the relevant embassy. However, where educational certificates require legalization, the process is actually the same save for that fact that it must be initially attested by the Federal Ministry of Education before the subsequent authentication and legalization.
Lastly, it's worthy of note to state that some documents may not be appropriate for legalization. For example, most embassies won't legalize some documents in conflict with their domestic legislation or perhaps the content of its may inflict harm to the citizens of the own country of theirs. And where any document appears with a strange seal or perhaps stamp which isn't consistent with the ones used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it'll also be rejected for legalization.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.