Authentication

Legalisation

Legalization

An "authentication" is a governmental act by which a designated public official (e.g. consular officer at an embassy or a consulate) certifies to the genuineness of the signature and the position of the person/official who has executed, issued, or certified (a copy of) a document. Authentication service is also provided by Honorary Consulates.

Authentication is provided upon request of Austrian citizens.

  • Authentication of private (e.g. agreements) and official signatures
  • Authentication of transcripts and copies (stating that original and copy are identical) upon request of Non-Austrian citizens: Authentication of private and official signatures
  • Authentication of transcripts and copies (stating that original and copy are identical) if the document is to be used in Austria (before the Austrian authorities). For private and official signatures: see also Hague Convention

Please note:

The Embassy/Consulate does not provide translation services. The accuracy of a translation is NOT the responsibility of the Consulate. The Embassy/Consulate is not responsible for the content of a document. The person asking for authentication services must provide proper ID (e.g. passport).

The Authentication process takes about 3 working days.

For further enquiries please contact the Embassy.

Who issues an Apostille?

Austria:

  • the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • the Presidents of any Civil Courts of First Instances except for the Commercial Court and the Juvenile Court in Vienna
  • the Governors or Governments of the Federal Provinces

Please note: If an Austrian public document is to be used in South Africa (e.g. certificate of birth, marriage certificate etc.), please check with the South African authorities in advance whether an apostille is actually required. If an apostille is required (what will be the case in almost all cases), do not forget to request the APOSTILLE at the same time when applying for the public document (application may be filled at the Austrian Embassy in Pretoria). Additional fees will be charged.

Even an Austrian public document labelled "international" (e.g. international birth certificate) is not automatically recognized as valid in South Africa. In most cases, you will also need an Apostille to be affixed to the document. Check with the South African authorities in advance - they will tell you if you need the apostille.

The Hague Convention

The 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents stipulates that signatory countries (including both Austria and South Africa) agreed to mutually recognize each other's "public documents". Thus, these documents need no prior legalization by an embassy or consulate of the other country.

Public documents are:

  • documents issued by judicial authorities, including those emanating from public prosecutors, court clerks, and process servers (e.g. divorce decree)
  • administrative documents (e.g. birth, marriage certificates)
  • official certificates affixed to documents signed by persons in their private capacity, such as official certificates recording the registration of a document, notarial authentications of signatures, etc.

Yet, all these public documents must be authenticated by an APOSTILLE. An apostille (French for "certification") is a form of internationally recognized notarization and ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country. The sole function of the apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature on the document in question; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document. The apostille either must be attached as an annex to the official document or placed on the document itself by means of a stamp. An apostille is solely issued upon request.

Please note:

An apostille is required to ensure that

  • South African documents are recognized as valid in Austria
  • Austrian public documents area recognizes as valid in South Africa