Legalisation for Thailand – The Complete Guide

Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular expat destination, especially for those wishing to teach ESL (English as a Second Language). Due to changes brought in by the government in May 2018 which now require all documents to be legalised in-country before travelling to Thailand, we've put together a complete guide on these processes.

What We’ll Cover

  • What the legalisation process is

  • The steps involved for Thai legalisation

  • What to be wary of when legalising TEFL certificates

  • How to get help with the process

What is the legalisation process?

Legalisation, also known as attestation or authentication, is a process of validating the authenticity of a document issued in one country and making it legally recognised in another. This is done through a series of checks and official stamps applied by solicitors and government departments.

These process differ dependent upon the document type, the country of issue and the destination country. Each document must also be processed in it’s country of origin and can not be verified by the government of any other country.

In this post, we will be discussing the process for UK documents going to Thailand, but we are able to handle documents from over 150 countries. If you need advice, please get in touch and our specialist team will be happy to assist you.


Most documents will need to have a certified copy made by a solicitor. The only exceptions to this rule includes personal documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates and ACRO Police Clearance certificates. These must be legalised on the original document to be accepted.

You may hear the term “notarized copy” or something similar, which is a different process to having a certified copy produced. Having a Notary Public make a copy or verify your document is an expensive procedure and in most cases is not required. Due to differences in terminology around the world, this is often a trap people in the UK fall in to and later discover that it wasn’t a requirement.

You will need to make sure that your solicitor is registered with the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and their signature is on their database. If this is not the case, there will be a delay in having your Apostille applied in the next stage whilst they FCO verify the signature.


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) apply Apostilles to documents issued in the UK. This verifies that it is an official UK document, though it does not authenticate the information within the document itself. An Apostille is a small certificate with an embossed seal which is affixed to the back of a document.

This is a required stage before any Embassy will apply their consular stamp to any certificate.


Once you have your Apostilled documents, you are then ready to present these at the Thai Embassy in London. You must provide a copy of the front and back of each document, which the Embassy will keep when they process your consular stamps. The standard turnaround time for a consular stamp is 2 working days, though this can differ in peak season.

If you have previously had your documents legalised for another country and now wish to present them in Thailand, you will not need to complete stages 1 and 2, as the Thai embassy will happily apply their consular stamp to a document which already has a valid Apostille and stamp from another country.

Your documents are then ready to present at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when you reach Thailand where the stamps will be verified by the government. This will be the final step to complete the verification.

Are there any other requirements for Thai Legalisation?

When you apply for a position in Thailand, your HR contact at the company you will be working for should give you a list of required documents in order to apply for your visa. If you previously had a contract with a company, the requirements may differ with a new employer or recruiter and you may now need your documents legalising, so we always recommend you check.

To avoid any delays and issues once you reach Thailand, we always advise you have them processed before you leave, especially as the stamps don’t expire so you are covered for all eventualities. Vital Consular are not able to advise on which documents you need present when reach Thailand, so ensure you have an exact list from your contact in-country before you start.

English Schools in China

If you are presenting a TEFL certificate, there are additional guidelines you need to be aware of before this will be accepted for legalisation. The wording on the certificate must meet the criteria of the FCO in order to receive an Apostille.

The amount of TEFL course providers has grown exponentially in recent years, and the sector is largely unregulated. As a result, many of them issue awards which they are not authorised to issue, or include wording which does not abide by the FCO guidelines. This can result in wasted money and time for students who are wishing to start applying for positions overseas and need to take a new course.

If you’re unsure, get in touch with us for further advice. You can read more about TEFLs and the requirements around these awards on our blog post here.

Can I get help processing my documents for Thailand?

If you would like a quotation or some further support with your documentation, we can handle your certificate attestation procedure for Thailand. All we require is your original documents, you don’t need to spend time and money on additional travel!

Simply visit our site and request a personalised quotation based on your requirements. You can also 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 Our friendly team of specialists are on hand to answer all of your queries.

key takeaways

Key Takeaways

Although the legalisation process can seem complicated, as long as you ensure you have the correct steps for your personal circumstances, Thailand is a relatively straight forward procedure. Be aware of the guidelines your certificates must meet before you start the process, as any mistakes down the line could be costly. Remember that all processes differ, dependent on where the documents were issued, so if you’d rather speak to one of our specialists for advice, just get in touch.

Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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  1. This is an odd one.

    What can I do if the certification of documents takes months in South Africa?

    Is there any way to certify the documents in Thailand, possibly through the South African Embassy in Thailand?

    Please I need help on this one. The government department responsible for this have turned off their phones ( to clear the backlog) and don’t allow people to walk in.

    • Hi Slade, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately no, there’s no way around this; documents must be processed in their country of issue. We can process documents for South Africa, and whilst the documents we’re submitting are currently go through, there is still a delay on our usual processing times. the government departments closed for a long time over the holidays which increased the existing backlog. I can confirm that the first stage still takes 6-7 weeks. I hope this is of some help, Melanie.

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