Certificate attestation Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Attesting certificates and documents for Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Procedures for attesting certificates, contracts, documents, degrees, etc in and for Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, RAK, other UAE emirates. Marriage certificate, birth certificate, university degree, educational qualifications, tenancy contract, from UK and other countries. For jobs, visa applications, school, college, and university entry and admission registration procedure.
The UAE is not a member of the Hague Conference (HCCH), and is not party to the Hague Apostille Treaty or Convention (as of 2019). This means that apostilled documents are not recognized by UAE government authorities. Original documents must be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, MFA), or Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), or similar in the country where they were issued, followed by the UAE embassy or consulate in the same country (or nearest UAE mission). Apostille section on this page has a longer explanation.
Legalization vs authentication vs attestation vs notarization vs certification vs verification
Information here is not to be taken as legally accurate, it is only our best opinion of what the different terms mean. It seems that they can be interpreted differently depending on country, organisation, language, anything else you can think of. We are not any sort of legal authority anywhere.
The terms legalisation, authentication, attestation, notarisation, certification, verification are sometimes used interchangeably, and are related, but there are differences. In particular, apostillation, attestion, and notarization have more specific meanings.
- Legalisation generally means that a document is certified as legally authentic in some way. Attestation and notarisation are both forms of legalisation.
- Authentication is mostly a synonym for Attestation but could refer to other forms of legalisation.
- Verification is also usually a synonym for legalisation.
- Notarisation is usually when an authority certifies that a copy of a document really is an authentic copy of the original document presented. A Notary Public offers this service. A Notary Public might make the copy him or herself to be sure it is a genuine copy, or examine carefully a copy that you brought. Either way the original must be presented. This is different from attestation in that notarisation does not authenticate the original as being genuine. For example a photocopy of a fake birth certificate could be notarised as a genuine copy of the certificate presented, but the original is still a fake birth certificate.
- Attestation is when a document is certified as genuine not fake. Either the original or a copy can be attested. If a copy is attested, that means that the original has been verified as genuine, and the copy is an authentic copy. If an original is attested, then stamps and signatures go on the back of it to certify it is genuine, and comes from a real organisation that is what they claim to be. To have a document copy attested, the original must be presented also. The difference is that the attesting stamps and signatures go on the back of the copy rather than the back of the original.
- Certification or Certified seems to mean several different variations on a theme. For an Apostille it means the part where the person signing it confirms that the document is genuine. It could also mean "Certified True Copy". A Certificate just means the document itself.
- Certified Copy, or Certified True Copy, is usually a term that refers to an official document issued by a record-keeping authority that says they do in fact have the record of what the certified copy says. For example proof of property ownership, a marriage certificate from the registrar of marriages, etc.
In the UAE, check carefully whether the relevant authority requires a copy or the original document to be attested. If you want to try and cover all your bases, get the original attested and get a copy also attested at the same time.
Do not laminate your important documents. Removal of the lamination might damage the original document. For attestation of original the lamination must be removed so the document can be signed, stamped, have seal affixed. For attestation of copy, the authorities might still want to examine the original document without lamination.
Black and white or color photocopies
Unless a color copy is specifically asked for, make copies in B&W. The reason for this is that it is then clearly a copy. A color copy could be interpreted as attempted forgery. If you want to be especially clear about it, stamp or write "Copy" on your copies (stay alert and don't write that on the original), but this is not normally done in the UAE. We have only heard about the color copy vs forgery confusion with respect to officials in (some) countries other than the UAE.
Document attestation means the procedure for proving that the document you are holding in your grubby little hands really is what it says it is.
Procedure for Attestation of Documents and Certificates before coming to the UAE
For documents issued in the country where you are living or visiting (not necessarily your "home" country):
- Take the original document(s) and copies to the government Ministry or Department which oversees the document issuing institution e.g. the Ministry of Education for teaching diplomas, university degrees, high school certificates. Get a stamp from them to verify that the organisation which issued the document is real.
- Go to the Ministry Foreign Affairs (MOFA or MFA) or Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the same country. They will stamp it or similar to verify that the previous ministry or authority is real and that their stamp is authentic.
- Then take documents and copies to the UAE embassy or consulate in that country. They will stamp it or similar to verify that the previous stamp from the MOFA or related government department is genuine.
- Submit attested documents and/or copies to the relevant government department in the UAE when you get to Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE. You might have to first take your documents to the UAE MOFA (now MOFAIC) so they can verify the stamp from the UAE overseas mission. Your company PRO should be familiar with the attestation procedure and will give you more specific details.
If you are not in the country where the original documents were issued, you need to get the original documents to that country to be attested. There are generally four choices of procedure. The first is the easiest but has less chance of being successful.
- Try taking the documents (originals and copies) to the nearest embassy or consulate of the country of document issuance for verification and stamping. If successful, then take the documents to the Foreign Affairs Department (MOFA) of the country you're in to verify the embassy or consulate attestation is genuine, then go to the UAE embassy or consulate of the country you're in for final attesting of your certificates and documents.
- Go yourself with the documents to the country (countries) where they were issued, then follow the original attestation procedure i.e. go to issuing organisation, issuing organisation related ministry if applicable, MOFA in that country, then UAE embassy or consulate in the same country.
- Give the documents to someone you trust to do the procedure for you. Either someone going to that country or send them to someone in that country. A relative is preferable to a friend because after completing the procedure, no matter how annoyed they are, the relative will still be your relative. Alternatively if you can manipulate a friend into signing some sort of friendship durability contract, then you might be able to retain their services for future jobs you want done.
- This option is a good alternative if you have no helpful and trustworthy relatives or friends, or they have gone AWOL when you try to find them to do document attestation for you. Pay a courier company to do the job for you. There are specialised services which will do all the toing and froing with documents to the respective ministries, embassies, consulates, etc. Expect to pay AED 1000-10,000 depending on how many documents and which country they are from.
Procedure for Attestation of Documents and Certificates after coming to the UAE
See notes above regarding not being in the country where the documents were issued. The same procedure applies, except for option 1, where you don't need to do the final step of going to the UAE embassy or consulate (since there isn't one in the UAE, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the final step in this case). Bear in mind that option 1 has a limited chance of success, it might be ok for marriage or birth certificates, but is unlikely to do the job for educational or professional certificates and diplomas.
- "Home" country is the country where you think you're from. This might be where you were born, where you were educated, where your family is or were, where you have a passport from, where you lay your hat, Mordor, nowhere, or anywhere you like. Its only relevance to document attestation is if you need to attest documents which were issued in your "home" country.
Ministries of birth, death, and marriage certificates
These offices also hold records of other personal related documentation such as adoptions, civil partnership registrations, name changes, etc. For passport and naturalisation related records, contact the relevant immigration department or internal affairs ministry.
In some countries you can request a certified copy online, and it will be mailed to you, possibly even authenticated by the relevant ministry of foreign affairs (see the relevant website).
- Australia: No federal agency, each state or territory has their own registrar office.
- Canada: No federal agency, each province or territory has their own registrar office.
- NZ: Births, Deaths, and Marriages (BDM), Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). Marriage certificates can be applied for online. You can get them authenticated by post: send them to the DIA, it then gets verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) before being sent back to you.
- UK: General Register Office (GRO) for England and Wales, General Register Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI), National Records of Scotland (NRS) for Scotland. UK marriage certificates can be legalised by sending them to the Legalisation Office.
- USA: No federal agency, each state has a registrar office.
Notary Public in the UAE
- A Notary Public is a person (often a lawyer) who is authorised to witness signatures or notarise documents i.e. verify they are what they say they are.
- To get documents notarised in Abu Dhabi go to the embassy of the country where the documents were issued; in Dubai and Northern Emirates, the embassy or consulate of the country where the documents were issued. Expect to pay AED 50-200 per document depending on embassy.
- Another possibility is the Dubai Courts, there's a Notary Public Office there, but they are only likely to sign off on documents issued by Dubai Government departments, possibly even only documents issued by Dubai Courts. Cost about AED 100.
Finding a document attestation services company or agency
There are many companies in Dubai and UAE that will claim to speedily and efficiently process document attestation. Since you are giving them original documents which are difficult (and occasionally impossible) to replace, finding a trustworthy place is important. Try asking friends, colleagues, relatives for recommendations. Trusting online reviews is a mixed bag for the usual reasons. A phone call or office visit will probably help you a great deal. If the company is unhelpful then, then it's a useful indication that they might not care about your documents either.
Before you do go to an private company, at least check the websites of the various government agencies and embassies involved in the process. Some of them are quite helpful. You might find it's not so daunting to do it yourself, in some cases you can just post documents directly to the government departments for processing and they will be sent back to you. Or if the procedures do put you off, at least you'll have a better idea of the documents and fees required, and time frame for processing, before talking to a few service companies.
Apostille is related to attestation, if a document is "apostilled", that means it has been attested, notorized, legalized, or something by one of the countries party to the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961 (HAC) (or Treaty, which makes for a nice acronym - HAT), with the uniform apostille format or stamp. What this means is that if a document is apostilled, then all countries party to the HAT recognize the apostille stamp without requiring that the document is authenticated by an embassy of the country where the document is to be presented. Various names seen for the same treaty include:
- Apostille Convention on Authentication of Documents.
- Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.
- Hague Treaty on Authentication of Documents.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not a member of the Hague Conference (HCCH), and is not party to the Hague Apostille Treaty or Convention.
That explains why any official documents needed by the UAE must be attested (notarized, legalized, authenticated, etc) by various authorities, but always including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, MFA) or Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the country where a document was issued, and the nearest UAE embassy or consulate to the country where the relevant document was issued.
For those interested in a bit of trivia:
- Saudi Arabia joined the HCCH in 2016, but as of 2019 is not a contracting party to the HAT (or any other HCCT conventions).
- The Philippines became party to the HAT in May 2019. However, Filipinos coming to the UAE still need to go through the document attestation process because the UAE is not party to the HAT. Also Austria, Finland, Germany, and Greece because they objected to the accession of the Philippines (Filipinos shouldn't feel too bad about Austria and Germany, they seem to object to most new countries signing up).
- It is possible for countries to be a signing party to the HAT without being a member of the HCCH. Bahrain (signed in 2013) and Oman (signed in 2011) are in this category.
- www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/status-table/?cid=41, "Status Table 12: Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. Entry into force: 24-I-1965".
Archived or old information
- School transfer letter attesting UAE
- [Check - dependent on school curriculum?] For schools: Transfer certificates must be first attested by the Ministry of Education in the country where issued, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the same country, then the UAE Embassy representing that country. Possible exemptions include Australia, Canada, Europe (Western, including UK), New Zealand, UAE, USA.
- [Check - dependent on school curriculum?] Birth certificate attestation: Ministry of Health > Ministry of Foreign Affairs > UAE Embassy of the issuing country. Exceptions: Australia, Canada, Europe (Western, including UK), New Zealand, UAE, USA.
Certificate and Document Attestation in Dubai
Any important documents you bring with you will have to be attested if they are used for any part of your visa process. For example marriage certificates if you are sponsoring your spouse, educational certificates if a qualification is required for a job. Since the procedure involves visiting government organisations, you can expect lots of stamps and requests for money.
Documents like driver's licences which are not needed for visa issuing, do not need to be attested.
If a document is not in Arabic or English, you will need a translation (attested or notarised). Sometimes you'll need a translation even for English documents.
Check with the PRO of the company where you will be employed for more information.
Empost and Attesting Certificates and Documents in Dubai
Note that the attestation procedure below is probably obsolete as of early 2006 since there was a change in the attestation requirements that supposedly made things much easier - Empost would look after it all somehow.
However, as with any change in Dubai, often it takes a while for correct information and guidelines to filter down to all the respective departments and authorities so it's probably worthwhile continuing with the old procedure before coming to Dubai and the UAE, even thought that involves added expense. As they say, "it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it".
- Attesting Dubai tenancy contract (Ejari)
- Attestation at Indian Consulate, Indian Embassy
- Attesting marriage certificate in Dubai
- Attesting birth certificate in Dubai
- Attesting degree certificate in Dubai
- Attesting documents from India, South Africa, UK, for the UAE.
- Attestation companies to research (not a list of recommendations)
- Benchmark Attestations Services, Dubai.
- BVS Global?
- Genius Attestation and Apostille Services in Dubai. There is a peculiar statement on their website: "We the Genius Group, the one and only ISO certified attestation firm in the world ..." We found many other attestation companies, just in Dubai, that claim to be "ISO certified", and quite a few of them also claim to be the "only ISO certified attestation company ... " somewhere ... perhaps they mean the only one in the building where they are location. Then a search for the "only ISO certified attestation company [or firm] in the world", resulted in about 20 so far. Anyway, the ISO official website says with respect to ISO certification: Remember, when labelling a product or system as certified to an ISO standard: Don't say: "ISO certified" or "ISO certification" (the requirements are more specific).
- Index Group, Index Abu Dhabi, Index Dubai, Index Office Services (?)
- IVS Global, Dubai and Abu Dhabi
- Leads Attestation Services
- Orbit Attestation Abu Dhabi
- Prompt Attestation Services, Dubai
- Power Attestation Services, Dubai
- VFS Attestation (VFS Global), only for Lebanon and India, not for UAE?
- Vital Certificates (vitalcertificates.ae)?
Last update Saturday 19-Oct-2019. Page development 1H 2T 3D 4L 5C.
- Abu Dhabi
- Embassies and consulates in UAE
- UAE embassies overseas
- www.hcch.net - Official website for the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) (Conférence de La Haye de droit international privé), acronym HCCH from Hague Conference ... Conférence ... Haye. Not relevant to document apostillation in the UAE because the UAE is not a member, but a useful reference point for other countries which are members, or to rebut anyone who says "apostilled" documents are accepted in the UAE, or for if or when the UAE does become a member.
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