Legalisations
Legalisation is an administrative act whereby a foreign public document is validated, by verifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, and the capacity in which the signatory of the document has acted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legalisation does not certify the content or the destination of the document. 

 

Unless there is a legal instrument that provides an exemption from this obligation, all foreign public documents must be legalised in order to be valid in Spain and all Spanish public documents must be legalised in order to be valid abroad.

 

Given the growing number of exchanges between different countries around the world, many of them have signed agreements aimed at facilitating this type of procedure for their citizens, including Spain.

 

The most important instrument is Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 on promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the European Union and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012.

 

This Regulation applies to the following public documents issued by the authorities of a Member State in accordance with its national law that are to be presented to the authorities of another Member State

  • documents originating from an authority or official connected with the courts of a Member State, including those originating from the Public Prosecutor's Office or from a court clerk, officer or bailiff (“huissier de justice”);
  • administrative documents;
  • notarial instruments;
  • official certifications that have been placed on private documents, such as registration statements, verifications of the accuracy of a date and authentications of signatures;
  • documents issued by diplomatic or consular agents of a Member State exercising their duties in the territory of any country in an official capacity, where said documents are to be presented in the territory of another Member State or to diplomatic or consular agents of another Member State exercising their duties in the territory of a third country;

 

Public documents covered by this Regulation and certified copies of said documents will be exempt from any form of legalisation or a similar procedure (apostille).

 

This is the full list of EU Member States

 

Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 exempts from translation public documents of an EU Member State that are accompanied by a multilingual standard form referred to in its annexes and translations certified by a person qualified to do so under the law of a Member State of the European Union.

 

Along with EU Regulation 2016/1191, the 12th Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, more commonly known as the Apostille Convention, is also relevant.

 

Many countries have signed up to this treaty, which simplifies procedures for both issuers and recipients. This text stipulates that between Member States legalisation is not required for the mutual recognition of documents, but a seal or apostille is required. Anyone who needs to obtain one should contact the Ministry of Justice (Calle de la Bolsa, 8. 28071 Madrid Tel. 902.007.214).

 

This is the full list of countries that have signed the agreement

 

In addition, there are other conventions exempting certain documents from the need for legalisation.

 

Athens Convention:

 

Vienna Convention:

 

London Convention:

 

Exchange of Letters with the USSR:

 

For all cases not covered by any of the above agreements, legalisation must be carried out.

LEGALISATION OF FOREIGN DOCUMENTS

  1. Legalisation of foreign documents abroad (diplomatic channels: Spanish embassies).
  2. Legalisation of foreign documents in Spain (diplomatic channels: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation - MAEUEC).

 

1. Legalisation of foreign documents abroad

This is what is commonly called legalisation via DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS and involves LEGALISATION BY THE SPANISH EMBASSY IN THE COUNTRY. It must contain at least the following legalisations from:


A fee will be charged for legalisation at a Spanish embassy or consulate.

 
If the document is to be delivered to the Spanish Civil Registry:

  • The competent authority beforehand in accordance with the local legislation of the country in question.
  • Ministry of foreign affairs of said country. 
  • Legalisation at the consulate of the country in question in Spain.
  • Legalisation by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

A unique case covers foreign documents related to transactions of defence or dual-use material (that can have both military and civilian use) commonly referred to as EUCs (end user certificates). Companies can go directly without an appointment on Mondays every week to legalise them and a copy must be brought to the appointment.

 

An End User Certificate must be:

  1. 3. Issued by the competent authority of the country that is the destination of the goods and may be legalised in accordance with the regulations in force, either through diplomatic channels or by legalisation with a Hague Apostille if the country has signed up to this.
  2. 4. If legalised through diplomatic channels, it may be legalised by the Spanish representation in the issuing country or by the representation of the issuing state in Spain. In both cases, the procedure must be carried out by a diplomat with a signature registered with the Legalisations Service of this Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.
  3. 5. Lastly, legalisation by this Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. Companies can go directly without an appointment on Mondays every week to legalise them and a copy must be brought to the appointment.

 

2.  Legalisation of foreign documents in Spain

They are issued by foreign consulates and embassies accredited in Spain.
They are legalised at the Legalisations Service of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation in order to be valid in Spain.
The most common consular documents are:

  • Life certificates and marital status certificates.
  • Certificates of good conduct.
  • Certificates of residence and/or consular registration.
  • Certificates of nationality.
  • Sworn statements.
  • Certificates explaining local legislation.
  • Certifications of proof of not having received a grant or public subsidy, among others.  

 

Documents issued in the foreign country are not legalised through this route as they will follow the diplomatic route described above. Except in the following cases:

http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/SiEstasEnElExtranjero/Paginas/Legalizaciones.aspx

 

Legalisation by the Legalisations Service is free of charge.

 

The legalisation exemption can be found: https://exteriores.edicion/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/SiEstasEnElExtranjero/Documents/Normaseximenlegalizacion.pdf

 

LEGALISATION OF SPANISH DOCUMENTS

 

  1. Legalisation of Spanish documents in Spain (diplomatic channels: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation - MAEUEC).
  2. Legalisation of Spanish documents abroad (diplomatic channels: Spanish embassies).

 

1. Legalisation of Spanish documents in Spain

 

Those issued by the General State Administration
This category includes those issued by their authorities and officials, public bodies and entities within its structure and social security management bodies.


Their legalisation must be carried out:

  1. firstly, by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
  2. and subsequently by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Those issued by Regional Governments

This section includes documents issued by regional authorities, officials and public bodies.

 

Their legalisation must be carried out in the following order:

  1. the Legalisations Unit of the corresponding Autonomous Region (the addresses and contact details of all of them can be found in this list) - Include the link here now in the right-hand column or refer to the list in the right-hand column so that it is easy to access.)
  2. the Legalisations Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63) and
  3. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Those issued by local bodies (Local Councils, Provincial Councils, Island Councils, Associations of Districts and other types of local government)

The legalisation of these must be carried out:

  1. By the Ministry of the Treasury and Public Administration, with two exceptions:
    • The first exception concerns documents originating from Madrid City Council, which may be legalised directly at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.
    • The second exception is if the judicial or notarial procedure is followed.
  2. the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
  3. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Notarised documents

These are documents for which a notary acts as the party responsible for attesting: deeds, instruments, recognition of signatures, authentications, certifications, etc.

They must be legalised by a notary in the following order:

  1. by notaries,
  2. by notarial associations
  3. by the Ministry of Justice - Legalisations Section
  4. by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
  5. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Judicial documents

This category includes birth, marriage and death certificates; certificates of marriage capacity, life or marital status certificates; court rulings, etc.

All of them require legalisation through judicial channels. The parties responsible for executing this are, in the following order:

  1. the high courts of justice of the autonomous region in question
  2. the Ministry of Justice - Legalisations Section
  3. by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
  4. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Commercial documents

These include certificates of origin, certificates of free sales, company invoices and many other commercial documents. Their legalisation is carried out by different bodies depending on the nature of the document:

  • Those relating to exports must be legalised in the following order by:
    1. the Chamber of Commerce of the province in question and, subsequently,
    2. the Higher Council of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Navigation
    3. the legalisations service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
    4. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect

  • Bank documents may be legalised by various entities in this order:
    1. If they have been issued by the Bank of Spain, the procedure can be carried out at any of its offices.
      • Those issued by local banks can be legalised at the central services of said bank or their branches in Madrid or at the Bank of Spain.
      • Lastly, those issued by local banks without central services in Madrid may be legalised at the provincial delegations of the Bank of Spain. Bank documents can also be legalised by a notary.
    2. the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
    3. and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Sworn translations from Spanish into other languages

These must have been carried out by a sworn translator or interpreter appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. In each case, the embassy or consulate of the country where the document is to have effect should be contacted to check whether the official Spanish translation is itself valid there. If it is not, it must be legalised at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.

 

Academic documents

Each type of transcript or certificate has different guidelines for legalisation. You are advised to visit the website of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/en/portada.html

 

Official higher education documents
These are valid throughout Spanish territory. Please visit: http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano/catalogo/general/99/998721/ficha/998721.html#oficial

Documents other than university degrees
Please visit: http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano/catalogo/gestion-titulos/estudios-no-universitarios.html

Official non-higher education documents

These are those issued by educational establishments in an autonomous region. Their legalisation must be carried out in the following order:

  1. by the Department of Education or equivalent in the region in question.
  2. by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - -28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 55).
  3. subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Documents of an unofficial nature issued by private institutions

In these cases, legalisation should be carried out in the following order:

  1. by notaries,
  2. by notarial associations (see the following list of notarial associations in Spain),
  3. by the Ministry of Justice - Legalisations Section www.mjusticia.es
  4. by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63)
  5. and lastly, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.

 

Documents from religious organisations

Documents of the Catholic Church must be legalised by:

  • the Apostolic Nunciature and/or the Diocese
  • the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63).
  • and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect

 

For those issued by other religious authorities, two types can be distinguished:

  • Those recorded in civil registries in Spain, such as, for example, Koranic, Rabbinical or Evangelical marriages, which will require legalisation:
    • by the high court of justice of the autonomous region where the civil registry issued the marriage certificate,
    • by the Legalisations Section of the Ministry of Justice www.mjusticia.es 
    • by the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (C/ Pechuán, 1 - 28002 Madrid. Tel: 91 379 16 63).
    • and subsequently, by the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect.
  • Those that are not recorded in Spanish civil registries will have to be legalised by a notary.

 

Medical certificates

After the doctor has filled in the official form published for this purpose, he or she must sign it and stamp it with the seal accrediting their membership of the medical association. The interested party wishing to obtain a legalisation of said document should then contact:

  • the Medical Association of their province
  • the Spanish General Council of Official Medical Associations (Plaza de las Cortes, 11 4º - 28014 Madrid. Tel: 91 431 77 80)
  • the legalisations service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation
  • and subsequently, the foreign embassy or consulate in Spain of the country in which the document is to have effect

 

Veterinary certificates

After obtaining a veterinary certificate, you must go to the corresponding government delegation/sub-delegation, where an animal health certificate will be issued.

This certificate must be legalised in the following order:

  • At the Directorate-General for Agricultural Production and Markets of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, located at calle Almagro, 33, Madrid.
  • At the legalisations service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation
  • And lastly, at the embassy or consulate in Spain of the country where the document is to have effect, where you are advised to enquire about other possible requirements that may affect the exporting of pets to the destination country. 

 

Legalisation of Returned Emigrant Certificates

Work carried out abroad, whether as an employee or self-employed person, and the duration of this work must be proven through employment contracts, payslips or social security contribution slips and/or a work certificate from the company where the work was carried out, which must show the length of time the services were provided. Documents relating to the work carried out:

  1. must be approved in terms of their content by the Spanish Department of Work and Social Security in the country of origin.
  2. In cases of return from countries where there is no Department of Work and Social Security, the documentation must be duly legalised by the Consulate when public documents are involved. If the documentation is private, in order to be legalised, it must first be recorded in a public document in accordance with the country's regulations.
  3. When returning from a Hague Convention country, the documentation provided to prove that the work has been carried out must be apostilled.
  4. For cases where the authenticity of labour documentation issued by the official authorities of the country of return can be verified using secure verification codes, no notarisation or legalisation is required.

 

Can legalisation of a document be refused?

Yes. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation will not legalise documents in the following cases:

  • Where the original submitted is neither a public document nor a private document recorded in a public document by a notary.
  • When it does not contain prior legalisations from other authorities as required by law
  • When the signatures to be legalised are not recorded in the registry of the Ministry's Legalisations Section.
  • However, any refusal may be appealed through the channels established by Spanish legislation (Law 39/2015, of 1 October, on the Common Administrative Procedure of Public Administrations and Law 40/2015 on the Legal Regime of the Public Sector). 

 

2.  Legalisation of Spanish documents abroad.

• In this case it does not involve a legalisation but the possibility of issuing Spanish documents at consulates and embassies. Documents such as:

• Life certificates and marital status certificates.

• Certificates of good conduct.

• Certificates of residence and/or consular registration.

• Certificates of nationality.

• Sworn statements.

• Certificates explaining local legislation.

• Certifications of not having received a grant or public subsidy, among others.
http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/Paginas/EmbajadasConsulados.aspx


APOSTILLE


THE HAGUE APOSTILLE ON SPANISH DOCUMENTS

The Apostille procedure simplifies the legalisation of documents by stamping a seal and signature on the document, but it is only valid in current Hague Convention countries.

 

http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/SiEstasEnElExtranjero/Documents/ConveniodelaHaya.pdf

 

This procedure involves the Ministry of Justice through a number of different bodies www.mjusticia.es


IT DOES NOT TAKE PLACE IN THIS MINISTRY OR IN SPANISH EMBASSIES OR CONSULATES


The following documents cannot be apostilled:

  • consular documents issued by foreign embassies or consulates in Spain (see diplomatic channels above).
  • documents relating to a commercial or customs transaction (see diplomatic channels above).

 

THE HAGUE APOSTILLE ON FOREIGN DOCUMENTS 

Each country apostilles its own documents.
The authorities that apostille documents in the different member countries of the Convention are listed at the following link:
https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions


The Hague Apostille is contained in the 12th Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, more commonly known as the “Apostille Convention”. Each member of the Convention apostilles its own documents.

  • In Spain, the Ministry of Justice apostilles documents www.mjusticia.es
  • In all other countries, the competent bodies apostille documents.

Neither legalisation nor an Apostille has an expiry date. However, if the document issued has a limited duration, the legalisation carried out on it will also have a limited duration.

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

VALID IN SPAIN

  1. Carried out or accepted* at a Spanish Representation or Spanish Consulate abroad and then legalised at the legalisations service of this MAEUEC.
  2. Carried out or accepted at a Spanish representation or consulate of the country of origin of the document in Spain and then legalised at the legalisations service of this MAEUEC.
  3. Carried out or accepted by a sworn translator or interpreter appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, a list of which can be found at the following link.
    https://exteriores.edicion/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/Documents/LISTA%20ACTUALIZADA%20A%2014%20DE%20OCTUBRE%202021.pdf

 

Sworn translations do not need to be legalised at the Legalisations Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, but this does not mean that the original documents do not need to be legalised or apostilled.

 

ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS MUST ALWAYS BE LEGALISED OR APOSTILLED, BUT THEIR SWORN TRANSLATIONS DO NOT NEED TO BE LEGALISED TO BE VALID IN SPAIN.


* acceptance comprises an official check of the translation carried out by a local, non-sworn translator. 

 

VALID ABROAD

The authorities of each country should be contacted through their embassies or consulates in Spain. Their details can be found at:
http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/Ministerio/Protocolo/Documents/2ACONS.pdf

 

If these foreign authorities require this ministerial department’s stamp, they may perform the translation in one of the three ways described in the previous section.

 

 



 

 

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