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An Overview on Legalization Process

Legalization, under international law, is the process of authenticating or certifying a document so that another country may recognize it as an authentic and valid document.Under the legalization process, the authenticity of a document is finally proved whenthe Embassy of the destination country where an individual is set to visit/relocate affixes its stamp on the document.

The process of legalization ensures that a particular document was issued by a competent authority and that the seal and/or stamp on the document is genuine.

Stepwise process and timeline

The document goes through following steps to be legalized:

Step 1 The document is first submitted to a local Notary for obtaining the notary stamp on it.  This process takes approximately 2 to 4 working days for completion

Step 2 Upon notarization, it is submitted to the Sub Divisional Magistrate’s (SDM) or Human Resource Department’s (HRD) office for attestation. This process takes approximately 5 to 7 working days for completion

Step 3 Once the document is attested by the SDM or HRD, it is sent to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)to be apostilled wherein a rubber stamp is affixed on the reverse side of the document.  It takes approximately 7 to 9 working days for this process to be completed

Step 4 The last step is attestation of the document by the Embassy of the destination country which affixes the final legalization stamp.  This step takes approximately 15 – 18 working days. 

* The above timelines stated are only estimates and may differs lightly depending on the government office where the document is being processed

Rupali Nayak