Attesting UK documents for the UAE – all you need to know

If you dream of living in the sunshine with beaches on your doorstep, then you might be considering moving to the UAE, a place renowned for it glamorous social scene, year-round sun and large expat community. But before you pack your suitcase it’s important to understand the paperwork involved in moving abroad whether it’s for work or as a dependent.

In this article

What is UAE attestation and why is it required?

Most jobs will require some supporting documentation, such as education certificates, so that your company can process your residents visa (a must for all expats who live in the UAE). In addition, if you’re sponsoring family to come and live with you, you will need to present marriage or birth certificates so that they can apply for residency. Whilst having the documents isn’t an issue for most people, what often gets missed is the requirement for those documents to be attested before they can be used in the UAE.

So, what is attestation?

Attestation, sometimes referred to as legalisation, is the process of making documents from one country legally recognised for use in another country. This process will vary dependent on the country that issued the documents and the country where they will be used, but generally speaking, there are three steps to attesting a document.

  1. Legalisation by the appropriate government authorities in the country that issued the document.
  2. Legalisation in the country that issued the document by the embassy of the country where the document will be used.
  3. Legalisation by the appropriate government authorities in the country where the document will be used.

How do you attest a UK document for the UAE?

If you have a document from the UK that you wish to use for official purposes in the UAE then there are three or four steps required, depending on the document.

  1. Certification – When required, the original document is presented to a registered UK solicitor. They then make a copy of the document, before stamping and signing the copy to verify that it is a true copy of the original. This step is not applicable for Birth, Marriage & Death certificates as the attestation stamps are affixed to the original document.
  2. Apostille from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) – The FCDO affix an apostille to the document to prove that it is a genuine UK-issued document.
  3. Consular Stamp from the UAE Embassy in London – The UAE Embassy check the document and verify that it can legitimately be used in the UAE by affixing their consular stamp.
  4. Attestation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in the UAE – This is usually the final step of the process and your document can then be used legally in the UAE.

In addition you might be required to get the document translated to Arabic; this will depend on who is requesting the documents to be attested. It is always best to ask the question beforehand to ensure there are minimal delays in you being able to use your attested document.

Is this process the same wherever my document was issued?

As mentioned previously, the steps involved in attestation are broadly the same wherever the document is issued, however there can be significant variation based on a number of factors. Here we have outlined some of these variations, but we strongly advise you check what is required before you attempt to attest your own documents.

  1. Apostille Only – Certain countries have signed an agreement referred to as the Hague Convention, which means the documents being attested between two member states only require an apostille from the appropriate government authorities in the country of issue in order to be recognised in the other Hague Convention country; thus, eliminating any other steps.
  2. Document Age – Some countries set a limit on the age of a document that they will attest. For example, French birth certificates cannot be older than three months otherwise the UAE will refuse to attest them. In this case, duplicate documents must be requested by the document holder before attestation can be carried out.
  3. The United States – There are a couple of idiosyncrasies associated with attesting documents from the United States for use in the UAE. Firstly, the US authorities do not, generally speaking, require the original document but will process a scan of the document. Secondly, after being notarised, the document is stamped first by the Secretary of State and then by the Department of State before being legalised by the UAE Embassy in Washington.

How do I know which process I need?

Determining which documents you need attesting is best discussed with the authority that is requesting the attestation, whether that be your new employer’s HR Department or PRO, or the UAE Government body that has requested the attested document. Once you are aware of which documents you will need to have processed, our specialist team can assist you with the attestation itself.

Wherever your documents were issued, we can help, so just get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.

FAQs

Does the attestation expire?

Generally speaking, once a document is attested for use in the UAE, that attestation is valid indefinitely. That said, there are rare occasions when attestation done a very long time ago may be rejected due to the age or changes in policy since the attestation was done. If you’re unsure, speak to our team who will be able to help.

Can’t I just attest my documents when I get to the UAE?

Documents need to be attested in their country of issue in the manner mentioned previously in order for them to be legally accepted by the UAE authorities. Whilst you can wait until you get here to attest them, the documents will still need to be couriered back to their issuing country to be properly processed.

Can a previously attested document be used?

It will very much depend on the country where the document is to be used. Due to political wrangling or government policy, sometimes you will need to provide a duplicate if the original has previously been attested for use somewhere else. As always, it’s best to check with whoever has requested the attested document as to exactly what they require and any restrictions they may have.

Does it matter which MoFA I attend for the stamp?

No, the UAE MoFA is a federal body, so as long as they have stamped the document at the end of the process it can legally be used for the purpose intended.

What language does it need to be in for the UAE?

The UAE authorities accept documents in Arabic and/or English, however the requirement for an Arabic translation can differ from Emirate to Emirate and also depends on the type of document that is being attested.

If you’d like help attesting your documents, give us a call directly on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, send us a message via WhatsApp, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at sales@vitalconsular.com. Our friendly team of specialists are on hand to answer all of your queries.

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Chris Miller
Chris is the Manager of Vital's Dubai Office, and has lived in the country for over 10 years, giving him a unique insight into life in the UAE. Chris' industry knowledge is central to keeping our customers date with all of the changes and processes across the Middle East. When he isn't at work, Chris enjoys trips with his family, and loves to keep fit, a holdover from a previous life as a fitness instructor!
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