Service Resumes at the FCO, But Service is Limited – Here’s How

As COVID-19 brought many governmental closures across the globe, paperwork process have also come to a halt. Due to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) UK Apostille service putting a pause on it’s Apostille service in March 2020 owing to staff shortages, there was much concern as to when things would return to normal. However, Vital Certificates is now one of a handful of companies in the UAE now able to process these documents, following a limited UK Apostille service being reinstated on Tuesday 7th April 2020.

How is the service limited?

Private individuals and companies are not allowed to access the Apostille service at the moment. Only pre-registered business clients are able to submit documents to the FCO currently. You can send your documents to us at Vital Certificates for Apostille legalisation so we can submit them on your behalf.

There are some restrictions on the number of documents allowed to be submitted on a daily basis, to allow the FCO to handle the influx of requests at this busy time of year. The current timetable allows submissions on a Monday to Thursday, with Fridays being used to allow for any backlogs which accumulate. Existing client orders with Vital Certificates are now being processed, with new order receipts being lodged on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are also restrictions on where the documents can be taken for UK Apostille legalisation, with the business counter at the FCO Milton Keynes office being re-opened, yet the London business counter remaining closed until further notice.

Certifying Documents for UK Apostille

If your documents require solicitor certification prior to legalisation, our solicitors are still available to produce this certified copy, or statutory declaration, for you. Most documents will require certification in one form or another. Common examples include:

  • Personal Documents
    • Educational qualifications
    • Medical certificates and prescriptions
    • Certain police clearance certificates
  • Company/Commercial documents
    • Certificate of Incorporation / Memorandum & Articles
    • Export Documents
    • Commercial Invoices

Who can certify documents?

Both Solicitors and Notary Publics are able to provide certification of documents. Ensure your solicitor, should you choose to complete this stage yourself, is registered in the UK and places both their signature, official stamp and date on the document.

In order for the FCO to accept the document certification, the individual that has signed the document must be registered with the FCO on their signatories database. Our UK-based Solicitors and Notaries are all pre-registered to prevent any delays.

Documents Requiring Additional Embassy Legalisation

For any country that is not part of the Hague Convention Apostille agreement, legalisation of the document by the relevant Embassy or Consulate will usually be required. You can read more about the Hague Convention Apostille Agreement and the countries included, in our blog post here.

Documents for the UAE will require further legalisation with a Consular stamp, applied by the Embassy in London. However, due to the current situation, the UAE Embassy is currently only open to postal applications and therefore processing will take slightly longer than usual.

Can this be done from the UAE?

Legalising documents when you’re outside of their country of issue can be difficult at the best of times. If you’re currently struggling to get your documents processed back in the UK, don’t worry. We can handle everything for you from the UAE. Our head office is based in the UK, and we are a registered business customer with the FCO. We can get your document securely to back to the UK via courier and have your document legalised and returned to you at the fastest speeds currently possible.

For more advice on your specific circumstances, please get in touch and our friendly team of advisers will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information.

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