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Certificate attestation Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE

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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.

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.

Laminating documents

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.

General procedure

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):

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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).

Notary Public in the UAE

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:

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:


Archived or old information

Specific procedures

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".

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Last update Saturday 19-Oct-2019. Page development 1H 2T 3D 4L 5C.
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