Legalisation is a process whereby a document is certified and authenticated so that it becomes acceptable as having legal effect in a foreign country. Zimbabwe is not a party to the Hague Convention on Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents (Hague Convention) and therefore Apostilles cannot be issued. The most important documents that require legalisation are civil status documents (for example birth certificates and marriage certificates) and academic/professional certificates.
The process of legalisation is usually two-fold. First the document must be certified and authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (legal and consular department). This involves the official from the Ministry certifying that the document is authentic and putting the seal. Second, the document is also certified and authenticated by the respective embassy. In some cases the receiving country may require that the document be translated in which case the translation must be done by a certified translator.
Some documents are not necessarily public in nature but may be required by an institution in a foreign country. Depending on the requirements of the receiving institution these documents may simply be notarised by a notary public.
For documents issued abroad for use in Zimbabwe the legalisation process is as described above. One has to go to the relevant government department for certification and authentication of the document before proceeding to the Zimbabwean Embassy for the same. One should however take note of the provisions of the High Court (Authentication of Documents) Rules, 1971. In terms of these Rules a document executed outside Zimbabwe is deemed sufficiently authenticated for the purpose of production or use in any court or tribunal in Zimbabwe or for the purpose of production or lodging in any public office in Zimbabwe if it is authenticated by a notary public, mayor or person holding judicial office or an official of the Zimbabwean diplomatic or consular mission in the respective country.
The contents of this article are for general information purposes only and do not constitute our legal or professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein.
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