Medical Letters For Residency Visas – Step-by-Step Guide on Legalisation

As COVID restrictions begin to ease, migration is on the rise now that travel is becoming possible again. With Brexit causing paperwork nightmares for many expats, gathering necessary medical documents for the move has become a stressful task for many. Here we explain why, as well as how you can get your paperwork through as quickly as possible if you're making the move abroad.

In this article

What We’ll Cover

  • Why you may need a medical letter for use overseas

  • Who can issue the letter

  • What “legalisation” and “Apostille” means

  • What can cause delays having your letter processed

  • Tips on avoiding common issues

What is the medical letter for?

Medical letters for residency visas are simply a statement from a medical practitioner that you are “free from any health issues detailed in the International Health Regulations of 2005.” This requirement was introduced by the World Health Organisation as a way of controlling the spread of serious diseases and enhancing global public health security.

You may hear the medical letter referred to as a “certificate”, especially for countries such as Spain where this is known as “Certificado”. Don’t worry about the confusion here, it’s simply different terminology for the same document.

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An example of a medical letter

What is document legalisation?

In basic terms, legalisation (also known as “attestation” or “authentication”) is the process of making a document issued in one country, legally recognised in another. The steps involved in this process varies depending on the document type, where it was issued, the purpose of the legalisation and where it will be presented.

To have a UK-issued medical letter legalised for use overseas, the original, which contains the medical practitioners “wet” signature, must be processed. A photocopy will not be accepted.

The first, and possibly only stage of legalisation required, is an Apostille. These are verification stamps applied by the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Whether more steps are required after an Apostille depends on which country you are presenting it in. Some destinations may require additional Consular stamps and others may also request that the letter is translated.

In order to find out all of the steps you’ll need you can ask at the Embassy you will be applying to, or get in touch with our friendly team of specialists for advice.

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Why would I need a medical letter for use overseas?

There are a number of reasons you may be asked to produce a medical letter for official purposes outside of the UK, but some of the most common reasons for legalisation requests at the current time include:

  • Residency applications and overseas work permits
  • Citizenship applications
  • EU Passport applications for UK Citizens
  • EU Citizens leaving the UK

In order to settle in an EU country after Brexit, UK citizens will be required to apply for a Residency Visa. Different states will have their own visa types and application processes, but there is certainly more documentation and red tape than before in all cases.

One of the largest group of expats who have found themselves in the middle of a paperwork battle through Brexit is the large community of Brits who reside in Spain. Although there are several types of residency visa for this destination, the Non Lucrative Residency Visa is the most popular. This must be supported by a legalised medical certificate from your GP.

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If you are a UK National and were already residing in Spain before Brexit, you should have been offered a TIE Card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero). If you have this biometric piece of documentation, you have a right to stay in Spain and do not need to apply for a new residency visa based on the withdrawal agreement between Spain and UK.

What do I need to check to make sure my letter is accepted?

In order for a medical document to be accepted by the FCDO for an Apostille, it must first meet the following criteria:

  • The medical practitioner must hold the necessary registration – either with the General Medical Council or the Nurse and Midwifery Council.
  • The document must be clearly signed and dated.
  • The practitioner can only sign medical documents.

How can I avoid delays to the process?

The requirement for medical letters for this purpose is a relatively new phenomenon within the UK, so it may be that your GP surgery isn’t familiar with the process if they haven’t been asked to provide one before. It would be wise to see if you can get a template of wording from the Embassy to which you are applying, or some guidance on what must be included in the letter to ensure nothing is missed out.

If you send a medical letter to the FCDO and your GP’s signature isn’t on their database, there will be delays. This is because the FCDO must verify that the signature is genuine and that the GP is genuine and authorised to sign the document. If verification is required, there will be communication between your GP’s surgery and the FCDO whilst they try to complete the necessary checks.

To have your document Apostilled with minimal delays, we would recommend contacting the GP surgery beforehand yourself. Request their email address so you can include this with your medical document, which will help the FCDO contact the surgery easily and efficiently for the verification.

Seeking pre-submission verification

Another way you could speed the application up even further is by asking your GP to pre-verify their signature with the FCDO directly before you submit your document. All that needs to be provided is a sample of their signature on headed paper, along with their registration number, registered name, capacity and permission for the FCDO to store the signature on the database.

This would mean that as soon as your medical document reaches the legalisation office, it will be processed straight away with no need for any verification stages. Failure to do any pre-authorisation checks can lead to significant delays to the processing of your document.

If you’re still having issues with obtaining your letter through your GP surgery, don’t worry. Any medical practitioner can produce this letter for you, so long as they provide the required information, are FCDO registered and meet the requirements outlined above.

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Do not get your letter certified by a solicitor after it has been produced by your GP. This will cause the verification at the FCDO to be done on the solicitor’s signature instead, which will invalidate the legalisation for your visa application.

Getting the letter legalised correctly, first time

If you would like to be sure that your letter will be accepted for use overseas, we can help. We have been processing documents for use across the globe since 2006 and not only can we process Apostilles quickly, we can also certify and translate documents where required.

As we are familiar with handling these types of documents, we have a highly experienced team of specialists who can help get your paperwork in order as quickly as possible.

Simply send us your original and we’ll take care of the rest. Your document will be returned to you ready for use with no stress or travelling around.

key takeaways

Key Takeaways

There are several pitfalls you may come up against when getting a medical letter for visa or citizenship purposes. Dealing with GP surgeries can sometimes be a headache, especially if your request is an unusual one. There are however several things you can actively do to prepare yourself for the legalisation of your letter to try and minimise any delays happening. Doing so will definitely save time and stress further down the line!

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Melanie Clarke
Melanie is a Digital Marketer and TEFL Specialist at Vital Consular. Before taking up a Marketing role, she spent 3 years building up a rich knowledge of global legalisation processes on the operations team. When she's not working, Melanie enjoys attending music events and pursuing many creative interests including screen printing and merchandise design.
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