What Can Go Wrong With UAE Attestation?

Legalisation is a tricky subject - it's easy to slip up and make a mistake. This article, the second in our Legalisation Fixers series, should help you avoid a few of the pitfalls of legalisation.

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What is UAE attestation?

Attestation is the process of taking a document issued in one country and making it legally recognised in another. UAE attestation is getting documents legalised for use in the UAE. So, say you live in the UK and you get a job in Dubai. Before you move over, you’d need to get your documentation (a degree certificate, for example) apostilled at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to prove that it’s legitimate. Otherwise, any old chancer could forge a certificate and apply for jobs overseas with it.

The process differs depending on what documents you need attesting, but they’ll need apostilling and they might need certifying and translating. That means it’s going to involve the FCDO and the UAE Embassy, and possibly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). You also might have to get in touch with a solicitor or a notary public. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It is.

Which is why we exist. You could try to navigate the complex, jargon-filled world of UAE attestation on your own, but it’s easy to slip up and make a mistake. I’ll give you an example.

A photograph of an old customer, Paul. He has brown hair and is smiling. We helped him with his UAE attestation

UAE Attestation – Power of Attorneys

We once helped a guy called Paul. He was selling an apartment in Dubai, but he’d run into a bit of trouble. Paul had a Power of Attorney but he needed to present it over in the UAE – he needed it legalising.

The document was valid – his mate, who’s name I don’t know but we’ll call Simon, had acted as witness. Paul knew that to get his document attested, he had to have it certified by a solicitor, apostilled at the FCDO, and then verified at the Embassy.

So he got a solicitor to certify it, and then he sent it to the FCDO, who apostilled it. But, when he sent it to the UAE Embassy, they rejected it. The UAE Embassy won’t accept POAs that haven’t been witnessed by a solicitor.

Now, there’s no reason Paul should’ve known that. He’s not an expert in UAE attestation. He (pretty reasonably, to be fair) assumed that because it’d been certified, it’d be fine. The POA itself was fine with his mate’s signature, but to be legalised for use in the UAE, it had to be witnessed by a solicitor – not just certified by one.

I’m going to throw another spanner in the works now; some POAs need to be notarised by a notary public rather than certified by a solicitor. It depends on the purpose of the POA and who you’re presenting it to – sorry to be vague, but that’s about all the guidance I can give you in a blog post. UAE attestation’s a complicated process. If you’re not sure what you need, just get in touch with us and we’ll do what we can to advise you.

Back to Paul, though. He’d wasted his time and a fair bit of his money getting a document certified and apostilled only for it to get rejected. Now, he had to start again from the very beginning.

This time, he got in touch with Vital Consular. He’d heard about our 100% acceptance guarantee, and didn’t want to risk getting it wrong again.

A man sat on the floor. He's holding his head with his left hand, and there are lines circling his head, showing confusion. In front of him are stacks of papers, files and folders.

How did Vital Consular help?

We’ve been in the legalisation business for over 15 years, so we’re pretty clued up on the UAE attestation process. Straight away we could tell Paul why they’d rejected his document and what he needed to do.

So, he got us to do it for him. We explained that he’d need to have his signature on the POA witnessed by a solicitor. Once he’d got that sorted, he sent it to us and our FCDO-registered solicitor certified the document. Then, we took it to the FCDO for an Apostille, before sending it to the UAE Embassy, who accepted it no problem. We emailed him to let him know what was happening after every step of the process.

Once his document was ready, he had a choice – we could either it to him in the UK, or send it straight to Dubai for him. Paul asked us to send his POA directly to the real estate company in Dubai, so they could deal with the sale of his apartment. It also saved him a bit of money, because he saved on VAT. Win-win.

If you need any help with attestation, just give us a call.

What else could go wrong?

If you don’t know anything about UAE attestation, it can be a bit of a nightmare trying to sort it yourself. It’s really easy to slip up. Any mistake means that your documents will be rejected and you’ll need to start again from the beginning. We’ve already talked about poor Paul – he got confused by the rules around witnessing and verification.

There are a number of other pitfalls you’ll need to look out for. We’ll start with a basic one – any UK issued documents sent to the UAE Embassy may need to be certified and will need to be Apostilled first. This isn’t just UAE attestation – it’s all legalisation. Don’t send off your documents to the Embassy without preparing them first. It’s a waste of time, and it can be quite difficult to get them back – the UAE Embassy aren’t the easiest people to get in touch with!

A businessman, wearing an orange shirt and red tie, at a sign post, which is pointing in three different directions and has a question mark on top. He's scratching his head in confusion.

Speaking of preparing your documents, here’s another one. Some universities in Scotland, Ireland and Wales issue certificates in Latin. It’s a nice touch – makes them look really sophisticated. Unfortunately, though, it’s no good when it comes to UAE attestation. The FCDO will apostille documents in Latin, but generally the UAE Embassy won’t accept them. As documents need apostilling before they go to the Embassy, you could pay for an Apostille on a document that’ll be rejected. Don’t.

Here’s another pitfall – this one’s easy to fall for if you’re trying to cut corners and save money. All documents submitted for UAE attestation need to be legalised individually. For some countries, you can bundle multiple documents and just apostille the bundle. Unfortunately, for the UAE, this isn’t the case. All your documents will need their own individual Apostilles.

I’ve given you a few examples of things that can go wrong with UAE attestation here, but there’s loads more. Unless you’re an expert on legalisation, it’s almost impossible to know what you need and how you need to present your documents. Why take the risk of doing it yourself?

For more information on how we can help, have a read of the blog below!

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Get Documents Legalised – Why it’s never too late to ask for help

Moving overseas for a new job, or dealing with bureaucracy in a foreign country is usually a time-consuming and difficult task. You’ll be bombarded by a number of new terms, such as "legalisation", "notarisation", "attestation" and "authentication", and it can be quite confusing to navigate your way through the maze to simply get documents legalised. What do you do if you’ve started the process yourself but come up against issues, delays and further complications?

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Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is an Apprentice Content Creator at Vital Consular, which means he’s learning the ins and outs of blog writing! He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

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