In certain situations such as purchasing of a property abroad, involving in a litigation case abroad, managing a business or property overseas etc., the certified true copy (CTC) of document(s) is necessary.
Formally, the process of getting the documents certified as true copies is called notarisation and/or legalisation.
Notarisation is certifying of a document as a genuine copy of an original document, or as a validly executed document. A notary public handles the notarisation of documents. A notary public is a person who had obtained approval under the Notaries Public Act. Normally, a notary public is a senior lawyer practising in Singapore.
Various services fall within the category of notarisation, these services, among others, are as follows:
- General notarisation to certify the validity of a document; or
- Certify copies of documents as true copies of the original.
It is advisable to seek advice from a lawyer or from the person requesting the documents, about which service of the notary public is needed.
Documents that are required to be notarised are under 2 categories:
- Documents to be certified as genuine, for example, photocopies of academic transcripts; and
- ‘Authority’ documents that authorise someone to do something such as Power of Attorney. This type of documents is to be signed in the presence of the notary public so the notary public can certify that the document was properly signed.
How to notarise a document?
For ‘authority’ documents, the notary public will make sure that the person (who executes the documents) understand the nature and purpose of the documents. Then, the notary public will inspect the original and copy of the documents. The notary public notarises the documents by using his or her official stamp and signature.
There is a notarial certificate which normally states the details as follows:
- Full name of the notary public
- The notary public’s status as a notary public
- The notary public’s certification and attestation of the document
- Document’s place and date of issue
- At the end of the certificate – full name, signature and seal of the notary public.
Engaging a notary public in Singapore
There are many law firms providing notary services and the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) provides an extensive directory of notaries public.
What to bring for notarisation?
For certification of the copies as true copies, it is compulsory to bring the original document and the photocopy of the documents for notarisation.
For ‘authority’ documents, it is necessary to bring some kind of identification for all the document’s signatories and the document for notarisation.
If there is any specific instructions from the party requesting the document(s) to be notarised, one shall inform such instructions to the notary public beforehand.
The costs are fixed under the First Schedule, Part II of the Notaries Public Rules. It is advised to review the fixed fees for various types of notarisation here.
Legalisation is a stricter procedure of certification which makes the documents valid to be used for official purposes abroad. For example, to admit a document as evidence in a foreign court trial, or for immigration application.
Not all countries require the documents from Singapore to be legalised for court trial purposes. The United Kingdom and some of the Commonwealth countries do not require documents from Singapore to be legalised. Likewise, Singapore does not require the documents from Commonwealth countries to be legalised but only notarised.
The Legalisation Process
First of all, it is important to identify the document as to whether it is a document issued by the Singapore government.
Document issued by the Singapore Government
For hard copy documents issued by the government, for instance, passport, marriage certificate, Singapore O-Level certificate etc., the process is as follows:
- Present the document to be legalised at the Consular Service Counter of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA);
- Bring the document to the Embassy, High Commission or Consulate (Mission) of the country where the document is required for further legalisation.
The legalisation process is the same for the computer-generated government document. Before the MFA can legalise this type of document, it is necessary to get an endorsement by the relevant department that issued the document.
For example, the computer-generated copy of a Business Profile produced by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is required to be certified by an ACRA official before the MFA can legalise the said document.
Document that is NOT issued by the Singapore Government
The process is as follows:
- Notarisation of the document (as explained above).
- Take the document to SAL for verification of the signature of the notary public who notarised the document.
- If it is a commercial document (e.g. a bill of sale), it can be certified by either the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, or any of the 4 Chambers of Commerce (International, Chinese, Malay or Indian).
- Get MFA to legalise the document.
- Present the document to the Mission of the country where the document is to be sent for the actual legalisation certification. If the document is to be sent to a country that has no Mission in Singapore, MFA’s guidance shall be adhered to.
What to bring for legalisation?
It depends on what is required for legalisation. It is advisable to bring the documents as follows:
- official identification document (such as NRIC or passport) for all the signatories to the document;
- the original document for legalisation; and
- the photocopies of the original document (if necessary).
If the party in concerned requests for a specific or additional document to be legalised, or the relevant Mission has given a particular instruction for legalisation, then it is essential to take note of those instructions and bring the requested document.
It depends on the document to be legalised and the place where the document will be sent.
|Notarisation of document||Refer to First Schedule, Part II of the Notaries Public Rules.|
|Authentication of signature of the notary public at SAL||§ $42.80 for next-day service
§ $128.40 for same-day service.
|MFA legalisation||$10 per page|
|Administrative fee – relevant foreign Mission||It depends on the Mission.
For instance, the fee is S$5 at the Malaysian High Commission and US$50 at the United States Embassy.
Importance of Notarisation / Legalisation of the Document
The document may be regarded as invalid for use if it is not being notarised or legalised properly as ‘certified true copy’. It causes delays in enforcing certain legal rights of a person.
To ensure the document is being notarised or legalised properly, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to supervise the whole procedure of notarisation or legalisation.