How can Belgian documents be legalised for use abroad?

 

Legalisation, apostille or exemption?

Depending both on the country where you want to use the document and on the type of document, a legalisation or an apostille is required. In some cases, neither a legalisation nor an apostille is required.

A country can be party to a legalisation treaty that contains agreements on how countries accept each other's official documents.

If a country is party to the “Apostille Convention”, only one legalisation is required in the form of an apostille stamp.

Since 1 May 2018, apostilles can only be affixed electronically.

For which countries does the legalisation, apostille or exemption from legalisation and  apostille apply? You can find this information via the 'Search criteria'.

 
Where can you apply for a legalisation or an apostille?

At the Legalisation Service of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs.

ATTENTION

For some documents, other authorities at the local, regional or federal level have to affix a legalisation first. You can check this here.

Before presenting your document at the office of the Legalisation Service, please check whether it has been signed by a public official:

  • either at the municipal level: by the mayor, an alderman or a delegate municipal official whose signature has been deposited with the FPS Foreign Affairs (to be checked at your municipality).
  • either by a notary, etc.,
  • or by an official of a public institution whose signature has been deposited with the Legalisation Service.

Has your document been legalised by the Legalisation Service of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs? The embassy or consulate of the country where you want to use the document will then make the final legalisation. Addresses of the foreign embassies and (honorary) consulates in Belgium.

If the country where you want to use the document is party to the Apostille Convention, the Legalisation Service of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs will affix the apostille stamp electronically. Once the apostille stamp has been affixed, you can use the document directly in the country of destination.

.

e-apostille / e-legalisation

Since 01/05/2018

  • apostilles CAN ONLY BE affixed electronically
  • whereas legalisations can be issued both on paper and electronically.

In order for the Legalisation Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs to issue the e-apostilles and e-legalisations, a special eLegalisation website (https://elegalisation.diplomatie.be) has been created, which is only accessible to accredited partners of the FPS Foreign Affairs (such as municipalities, notaries, other FPSs,…) and not to private citizens

 
1/ IF AN APOSTILLE IS REQUIRED FOR YOUR DOCUMENT

ATTENTION!

  • Since 1 May 2018, apostilles can no longer be affixed on paper. Apostilles CAN ONLY BE affixed electronically.
  • NO DOCUMENT SIGNED BY A NOTARY, for which an apostille is required (see 'search criteria'), can be submitted at the office of the Legalisation Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs. These applications must be submitted by the NOTARY VIA THE eLegalisation WEBSITE (see point 1 above).

TWO procedures are possible for lodging an e-apostille application

  1. The application can be made directly by the authority that issued the document, at the request of the person concerned. The recognised accredited partner (municipalities, notaries,...) submits the application via the eLegalisation website (https://elegalisation.diplomatie.be). 

    Payment is made directly online and the 'link' to the document with apostille is sent directly to the applicant by email. The processing time of the applications is short (within 48 hours normally) and does not involve any additional costs. The entire procedure can be done online. You do not have to go in person to the office of the Legalisation Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs. 

    For more information: https://elegalisation.diplomatie.be
     
  2. Request at the office of the Legalisation Service :
    Karmelietenstraat / Rue des Petits Carmes 27, 1000 Brussels, from 9 a.m. till noon

    Documents containing LESS THAN 4 (four) pages will be processed immediately. Documents containing more than 4 pages must be deposited and will be available for collection the next  working day.

    Always submit the original document (no scan) at the office of the Legalisation Service.

The apostille can be consulted on and downloaded from the website https://legalweb.diplomatie.be by using the number of the apostille and the date on which it was affixed.

 
2/ IF A LEGALISATION IS REQUIRED FOR YOUR DOCUMENT

If your document needs to be legalised, it must also be legalised by the embassy or consulate of the country of destination.

So please check first whether the foreign embassy or consulate can accept the electronic legalisation

  • If so, the authority that issued the document can submit the application for legalisation via the eLegalisation website (https://elegalisation.diplomatie.be), at the request of the person concerned, as is the case for the e-apostille. You will receive an email with the link to the legalised document.
  • If not, you can always obtain a  legalisation on paper at the office of the Legalisation Service (Karmelietenstraat / Rue des Petits Carmes 27, 1000 Brussels, from 9 a.m. till  noon).

Always submit the original document (no scan) at the office of the Legalisation Service.

 
Is the legalisation carried out immediately?

Yes, as long as the applicant does not submit more than 10 documents. If you wish to have legalised more than 10 documents at the office:

  • you must deposit the documents;
  • you will be able to collect them the next day;
  • you pay when you collect the documents.

     
    Do you have to submit your document in person? Do you have to produce a valid identity document?

    No. Anyone can submit your document. An identity document is not required.

     
    What does a legalisation or apostille cost? 

    20 euros per document.

     
    How do I pay for the legalisation or apostille?

    If you submit/deposit your documents at the office of the Legalisation Service:
    NO CASH. Please pay with

    • Bancontact/Maestro
    • Visa/Mastercard
    • proof of payment via B-Post

     
    Will the Legalisation Service translate the documents?

    No. Documents that need translating must be given to a sworn translator.

    The signature of the sworn translator will be legalised by the Chairman of the Court of First Instance to which the translator is affiliated.

    Then, the signature of the Chairman of the court will be legalised by the Federal Public Service Justice: Waterloolaan 115, 1000 Brussels; e-mail: legal@just.fgov.be (legalisatie van documenten door de FOD Justitie).

    Only then can you offer the original document and the translation to our Legalisation Service in order to obtain an apostille or to have it legalised.


    Does the Legalisation Service legalise diplomas awarded in Belgium?

    Yes, if they have been legalised previously by one of the communities to which the educational establishment is affiliated:

    Vlaamse Gemeenschap:

    Hendrik Consciencegebouw 1 B 01
    Koning Albert II-laan 15
    1210 Brussel
    Tel.: 0491/99.68.42

    The Flemish Community legalises diplomas awarded by all Flemish educational establishments.

    Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (French Community):

    the municipalities legalise diplomas from primary and secondary education within the free, municipal and provincial educational network.

    the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles legalises diplomas from universities, colleges and state secondary schools.

    For diplomas that are issued by institutions for primary and secondary education set up by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles:

    Service général de l'Enseignement Organisé par la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles
    City Center 1 Boulevard du Jardin Botanique, 20-20 (1er étage)
    1000 Bruxelles
    Tél.: 02 690 81 51
    Fax: 02 690 80 35
    E-mail: legalisation.oblig@cfwb.be

    For certificates that are issued by institutions for additional education set up by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles:

    Direction générale de l'enseignement non-obligatoire et de la Recherche scientifique
    Rue Adolphe Lavallée, 1
    1080 Bruxelles
    Tél.: 02 690 87 19
    Fax: 02 690 87 32
    E-mail: legalisation@eps.cfwb.be

    For certificates that are issued by institutions for higher education set up or subsidised by Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles:

    Direction générale de l'enseignement non-obligatoire et de la Recherche scientifique
    Rue Adolphe Lavallée, 1
    1080 Bruxelles
    Tél.: 02 690 88 29
    Fax: 02 690 88 40
    E-mail: legalisation.sup@cfwb


    Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft (German-speaking Community)

    Gospertstrasse 1-5
    4700 Eupen
    Tel.: 087/596364


    Does the Legalisation Service legalise copies of  passports or identity cards?

    No.

    With respect to a Belgian travel or identity document, the authorities that issued it can draw up a certificate that repeats the primary details from the relevant document.

    This certificate can be legalised if necessary.

    If this concerns a foreign travel or identity document, please go to the embassy of the relevant country.

    The certified statement of this document can then be legalised by the Legalisation Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs.