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When documents – intended for use in South Africa – are signed outside of our borders

There are certain authentication requirements that apply to documents that are signed abroad but are intended for (legal) use in South Africa. These include many of the documents required for the transfer of ownership of property.

How these documents must be authenticated depends on the country where these documents are signed. The following guideline will assist you.

• General rule

In terms of High Court Rule 63, documents must generally be signed by the parties in the presence of:

• the head of the South African diplomatic/consular mission; • a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving as a South African diplomatic consular abroad; • any government authority of such foreign country charged with the authentication of documents;


• the consul-general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the United Kingdom in that foreign country.

An authentication certificate, signed by the above person, must be attached to the documents.

• If the document is signed in Botswana, Lesotho, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

In this instance, it is sufficient for the documents to be signed in front of a Notary Public practicing in that country. The Notary Public shall identify the signatures, sign the document and affix his/her seal of office to the documents.

• Member states of the Hague Convention

Otherwise, if the country is a member state, documents can be signed in front of a South African diplomatic or consular agent. These documents will then be authenticated by an Apostille, issued and signed by the above person.

It is of utmost importance that the correct procedure is followed, as non-adherence will cause delays as the deeds office or Court may insist that the documents be re-signed.

Contact our professionals on 041 363 6044 or for sound legal advice.

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This article is not intended to constitute legal advice and is produced for information purposes only and to provide a general understanding of the legal position relating to the topic. It is recommended that advice relating to the specific circumstances of your situation be sought from our attorneys before acting upon the content of this article. This article was written at a particular point in time and accordingly may not always reflect the most recent legal developments, if any, applicable to the relevant topic. Kaplan Blumberg and its partners and/or employees, are not responsible for any consequences which may follow upon any decision taken to act upon the information provided in this article.

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