Legalisation of documents

Legalisation of a document confirms from one country to another that a document was issued by an individual or organisation with the authority to issue it, and that the signatures it bears are genuine. Some documents need to be signed by several different authorities in order to be legalised. This is called the legalisation chain

Some countries have entered into agreements streamlining the legalisation chain. This means that certain documents from one of the contracting states may be used in another contracting state with only a single legalisation or even none at all.


A document bearing an apostille does not require any further legalisation by the embassy or consulate of the country in which it was issued, nor which it is to be used. An authorised official issues the apostille once they are satisfied that the document and its signature are genuine.

Whether an apostille is required will depend entirely on the country in which the relevant document was issued. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and similar documents issued by a country that is a signatory to a legalisation treaty must generally bear an apostille. Please check the list of countries who are members of the Apostille Convention.

The Regulation on Public Documents (Regulation 2016/1191), which applies from 16 February 2019, aims at cutting red tape and costs for citizens when they need to present in a European Union (EU) Member State a public document issued in another EU Member State. The regulation puts an end to a number of bureaucratic procedures, such as public documents (for example, a birth certificate, a marriage notarial act, a judgment) and their certified copies issued by the authorities of an EU Member State must be accepted as authentic by the authorities of another EU Member State without the need of an apostille.

If the documents to be legalised are issued in a country that is not part of the Apostille Convention, the Dutch authorities in that country are responsible for legalising foreign documents for use in the Netherlands. First, however, the documents must have been legalised by the country's own authorities, this is usually carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The embassy or consulate of the Netherlands in the country of issue can supply further information pertaining to that country’s process.

Legal translations

A birth certificate, marriage certificate, or declaration of marital status written in any other language than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated into one of these 4 languages by a sworn translator. The translation will then bear the translator's stamp. If you need a legal document translated and you already live in The Netherlands you can also find a legal translator in the Netherlands.

For more information on legalising foreign documents check the Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken ­(Ministry of Foreign Affairs) website. 

Passport photos for official identity documents

There are specific rules about what is acceptable for an official photo for passport or driving licence or other official documents, and each country has its own rules. 

Some photography or camera shops in the Netherlands are able to take photos for official documents for other countries.

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