Timescales and Stages
The timescale for completing the work will depend on the particular job. I will always indicate the approximate time to complete all stages.
In many cases all the work can be done in a single stage on your visit on a while ‘you wait basis’. Typically this would be signing pre-prepared documents or certifying copies of documents.
In some cases however this is not always possible so a second stage may be required. This includes where I will need to prepare a document from your instructions and you will have to come back and sign it; where I will need to engage the services of a translator or where I need to obtain information or verification from another person, for example, confirming that an education body did in fact issue the degree that you want me to certify a copy of.
By far the most usual case of a subsequent stage after the initial appointment is where the document needs what is known as legalization and/or consularization.
Legalization is the process of having your document stamped by the UK Foreign Office. Consularization is the process of getting a consulate in London to add their stamp. Legalisation is a frequent requirement in most of Europe. A Power of Attorney to buy or sell property in Spain or Bulgaria are good examples. Consularization is often a requirement for countries outside Europe, particularly the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE and in the Far East such as Vietnam and China.
I use secure next day guaranteed mail to get documents to the Foreign Office or my London consular agent.
The UK Foreign Office usually takes two working days to process a document (or same day if using the over the counter service). Processing times in consulates vary but on average a London consulate will take 2 to 4 working days. Some consulates may offer an expedited service but few (if any) offer a same day service.
I always use a consular agent when consularization is required. Without this assistance documents from the UK Foreign Office have to come back to me and then sent by post again to London. In addition, a consular agent can immediately arrange onward posting or couriering to the required destination which consulates do not do.
This table shows typical timescales for getting a document through the legalization and consularization process and arrival at its destination. Consularization and sending to destinations outside Europe can add significantly to the time required. These timescales are approximate only and based on standard turnaround times of the UK Foreign Office (2 working days) and London Consulates (4 working days) and generally accepted courier times for delivery. You should not regard these as guaranteed. The Foreign Office and the consulates are affected by surges in demand. In addition, please note that customs clearances in countries, particularly those outside Europe, can add a day or two.
Legalize through UK Foreign Office and send to a non-European destination