There are certain authentication requirements when documents are signed abroad but intended for use in South Africa. How these documents must be authenticated, depends on the country where these documents are signed.

General rule for all countries

In terms of High Court Rule 63, documents must generally be signed by the parties in the presence of:

• the head of the South African diplomatic/consular mission;

• a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving as a South African diplomatic consular abroad;

• any government authority of such foreign country charged with the authentication of documents; or

• the consul-general, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the United Kingdom in that foreign country.

An authentication certificate, signed by the above person, must be attached to the documents.

Botswana, Lesotho, Great Britain and Northern Ireland (England, Ireland), Swaziland, Zimbabwe

If documents are signed in any of these countries, it is sufficient that the documents are signed in front of Notary Public practicing in that country. The Notary Public must identify the signatures, sign the document and affix his/her seal of office to the documents.

Member states of the Hague Convention

In these countries, documents can be signed in front of a South African diplomatic or consular agent. These documents must then be authenticated by an Apostille , issued and signed by the above person.

It is of utmost importance that the correct procedure is followed, as non adherence may require you to re-sign all the documents.

For any queries in this regard, please contact Martin Sheard at or on 021 673 4700.

021 673 4700

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