Spain Explained

Legalising documents – the Apostille

Last updated on October 28th, 2019 at 05:09 pm.

If you have property in Spain there is a chance that at some point you will be asked to provide a legalised version of an official document you have from your home country. In order to do this you will need to obtain the ‘Apostille’ of the Hague Convention.

The Apostille came to be because of the need to have a standardised legalisation procedure between the countries who are part of ‘The Hague Convention of 1961’.  It is a crucial method of conveniently demonstrating the legality of a document from a foreign country. The Apostille is, in fact, a stamp that is attached to the original document. It confirms that the signature, seal or stamp on that document is genuine.

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The Apostille is normally issued by the Foreign Office or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depending on the country. There is another agreement called the ‘Agreement number 17 of the CIEC’ which has been signed by several European countries but these don’t include the UK, Ireland or Sweden.

Quite recently one of the Ábaco staff found out, to her surprise, that she needed one too. Caroline Clinton explains, ‘I was confirming my husband’s SIP card and, even though we have been married for 29  years and lived in Spain for 27. I was still asked to produce a legalised version of our marriage certificate.’

Caroline knew that this meant she needed to prove the authenticity of her marriage certificate by obtaining an Apostille. ‘I was actually quite surprised at how easy it was to do. I sent my certificate by registered mail to the   Legalisation Office and paid online. It cost £ 30 but I also had to pay for return postage. This was special delivery so I knew the certificate would be safe. They sent it back to me within a week and I was able to use it as confirmation that we were married.’

The amount of time it will take for your document to be processed depends upon how straightforward it is for the authorities in your country to check its authenticity. In the UK, the public official whose signature is on the form will need to be confirmed through comparing it with a specimen signature. If no specimen is available this can hold up the application for Apostille.

Documents that can be legalised include:

  • Bank statements
  • Birth certificates
  • Court documents
  • Death certificates
  • Doctor’s letters
  • Degree certificates
  • Wills and probate
  • Power of attorney

In some cases the process becomes more complicated because an official translation by a sworn translator is needed. A sworn translator is accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm that the translation is a true and accurate translation of the original. You might need a sworn translation of an insurance report or an employment contract. If you plan to marry in Spain you might need a sworn translation of your birth certificate.

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Both the Apostille and the sworn translation ensure that there are no misunderstandings when using a document that is legal in one country as part of a legal process in another. In many respects it can make life easier for everyone concerned, including Spanish officials.

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Jonathan Casey

22 August, 2017 3:57 am


I got married in Spain earlier this year to a Spanish national but have now moved to Ecuador. To apply for my visa here i need to get an apostilled copy of my marriage certificate. Do you know how I can get this and if there is a way I can get it remotely and then shipped to me here in Ecuador?

Kind Regards


Suzanne O'Connell

22 August, 2017 7:46 am

Hi Jonathan

Hi Jonathan

I don't think it should be a problem. Use this link and follow the instructions and you should be able to have your marriage certificate apostilled:



Meral Taylor

7 June, 2018 10:26 am

I was married in England but
I was married in England but later divorced in Spain ( im a british citizen) I now returned to UK and need apostle stamp on my spanish divorce document is this something you can do? Thanks

Suzanne O'Connell

12 June, 2018 1:57 pm

Hi Meral

Hi Meral

I'm sorry. We only assist in legalisation of notarial documents and not judicial documents such as divorce settlements. This can be done by the divorce solicitor who obtained the sentence.