Changes in the world of legalisation and travel visas in 2019 – a year end round-up

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Legalisation Process Changes

With document legalisation updates being a regular occurrence, it’s important to keep up to speed with all of the changes in process, especially as these are often announced at very short notice, or even with no notice at all! We’ve gathered together the most important updates from the previous year below.

The Philippines
In May 2019, The Philippines officially joined the Hague Convention, simplifying the legalisation procedure for the country. This change includes The Philippines in the Apostille Agreement, which means that any documents issued in the UK or other member states will only require the Apostille stage to be completed in order to be legally recognised in-country. Previously, a consular stamp from the Philippine Embassy would have been an additional requirement after this stage.

From November 2019, the Qatar Embassy in London added a new requirement that all education documents being legalised at the Embassy must be supported by a photocopy of the applicant’s photo ID. If the applicant is a UK citizen, this must be a valid passport of the applicant’s passport. If the applicant is not a British Citizen, they must provide a copy of their official ID.

The supporting documents of a confirmation letter and a transcript are still required along with the original award certificate. You can find out more about this here.

document legalisation updates china

There have been several changes to the requirements and legalisation processes for China this year. As this destination continues to increase in popularity for expats, especially those wishing to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), regulations have been reassessed to better support the increase in applicants.

If you wish to teach ESL in China, even if this is an online position working for a company based in China, from July 2019 a degree is now a requirement along with a minimum of a 120 hour TEFL course certificate from a recognised provider.

The processing UK documents for use in China saw large changes in November, with both a price increase in the consular fees and the location of submission. Previously, the Chinese Embassy in London was the sole handler of these consular services. Now however, all submissions for legalisation must be made at the China Visa Processing Centre in person. You are still able to authorise an agent to submit and collect the documents on your behalf, as long as you provide authorisation.

Documents from issuing countries we can now legalise

Vital Consular can now process documents issued in over 140 countries. Some of the additional countries we have gained a presence in during 2019 are:

  • Ghana
  • Ukraine
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Czech Republic
  • South Korea
  • Monaco
  • Nigeria

We are the only UK legalisation company who can offer this range of services, allowing us to provide a stress free, time saving a cost-effective package. Many of our customers have documents issued from several different countries, and as each must be processed in the country it was issued, it can be a headache trying to figure out the varied processes and having to deal with many governmental departments at once.

Vital is a single point of contact which can handle all of your paperwork for you. Just send your originals to us and you will receive them back with the process fully completed, ready to use in your destination country. To see the full expanse of our unique global network, check out the map below.

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Partial service countries indicate that whilst we can handle some documents issued in this country, there are some document types we are unable to process currently. Please get in touch for more information.

Changes in the world of travel visas

Thailand overhauled their visa application process this year. Previously, it was acceptable to simply supply a handwritten application form with your passport to the Embassy, receiving it back within a week with your visa issued.

On the 15th June 2019, the Thai authorities changed their procedure so you now must complete an online application form and upload scans of supporting documents to the online portal.

document legalisation updates Thailand

There was good news for Polish citizens this year as the US authorities have added Polish Citizens to the list of citizenship which are able to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). This means that they no longer have to apply for a full visa and, instead, can complete the online ESTA form before they travel to the United States. This is much more convenient and cost effective compared the the previous process.

Saudi Arabia
After a long period of waiting, Saudi Arabia now offer a tourist e-visa. Previously it was almost impossible to obtain a travel visa to the Kingdom unless you were performing the rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. For those wishing to visit Saudi Arabia, the e-visa makes it much quicker and easier to obtain your travel permit, opening the country’s rich culture and heritage up to tourists.

New Zealand
In August 2019, New Zealand launched the Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA), which travellers must have issued before they arrive in New Zealand. It is very similar to the US ESTA, involving a simple online form, but this does mean however that tourists can no longer obtain visas on arrival.

The Chinese Transit Visas, also known as a G-Visa has boosted the tourist figures in the country since its introduction. These short-term visas can be applied for on arrival in selected airport and sea ports, allowing travellers to make the most of their stop-off on their long-haul flights.

New cities and provinces were added to the scheme in December 2019, as well as extending the validity of the visa for some areas already on the scheme.

The changes brought some of China’s most famous wonders into reach for the thousands of tourists who transit through their busy transport hubs every week. To read more about the changes and how you can apply for a G-Visa, read our full blog post here.

Can I get help with my legalisation?

If you need advice on legalisation processes, we have specialist teams of advisors who are ready to help. Get in touch by giving us a call directly on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, send us a message via WhatsApp on mobile, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at

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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