Authentication of documents
If you wish to use an Irish document overseas, for business or personal reasons, you may need to 'authenticate' or 'Apostille' that document. This is sometimes known as ‘legalisation’. Legalisation simply confirms that a signature, seal or stamp is genuine. Apostille and authentication stamps enable public documents issued in Ireland to be recognised in another country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs holds records of various signatures, seals and stamps on file, and is the competent authority who confirm they are genuine. The type of stamp issued will depend on what country you will be using the document, and staff in the section will advise this for you.
Our offices on Mount Street, Dublin and South Mall, Cork issue a physical stamp on your documents. We currently do not offer a digital service.
We can only issue Apostille or authentication stamps on Irish public documents. Documents must reference a clear Irish link (for example, an Irish address, Irish Passport details, Irish company registration number).
We cannot advise on whether a document requires authenticating / Apostilling. This is a matter for you to find out. Please contact authorities in the country where the document will be used to check their requirements.
A notary public may be required to notarise your document before we can issue a stamp. For more information, please see The Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland for information on the Faculty of Notaries and the services of a notary public.
Authenticating / Apostilling a document does not mean that the Department of Foreign Affairs is verifying the accuracy of the documents or approves of the documents’ contents.
Difference between apostille and authentication
While they accomplish the same objective, there are differences between Apostille and authentication stamps. An Apostille is a certification form set out in The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, often referred to as The Hague Apostille Convention. An outline of the Hague Apostille Convention can be found at The Hague Conference on Private International Law website.
Where a document needs to be used in a country that is not a signatory to The Hague Apostille Convention, an authentication stamp is issued.
Authentication stamps are a 2-step process, which will require a counter-signature, issued by the Embassy / Consulate of the country where the document will be used. For example, a document for use in a non-Hague country will be authenticated by our office, and must then be presented to the Embassy based in Ireland (or sometimes in the UK) for counter-signing.
The most popular public documents for which Apostilles are issued are civil status documents (e.g., birth, marriage, and death certificates), notarial authentications of signatures, degrees and other education documents.
How to apply
Walk-in Service (Dublin and Cork Offices)
Drop-off service for five or more documents
Verify an apostille or authentication stamp
The online electronic register enables you to verify the authenticity of an Apostille or Authentication stamp issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland.
What can an Irish Embassy legalise?
Irish Embassies and Consulates cannot issue authentication or Apostille stamps.
They can counter-sign foreign-issued authentication stamps from the country where the Embassy or Consulate is based.
The Department of Foreign Affairs cannot accept emailed / scanned copies of the Garda clearance certificate. It must be the original document, with a wet ink stamp from the Garda station, and must have the original signature.
You can contact the issuing Garda station and ask them to post the document to our office directly (it must be addressed to the Authentication Unit, see how to apply section of this website for the postal address).
You must contact our office to let us know, as we will require a cover note and payment to enable us to process the document.
Civil status documents (Birth, Marriage and Death)
One of the most common document types we are requested to legalise are civil status documents. There are some rules:
- Only Irish civil status documents can be legalised, and must be issued by the GRO.
- The original GRO issued documents do not need to be notarised in order for us to legalise them.
Photocopies of documents
We can Authenticate / Apostille photocopies of certain types of documents. They must be certified by a practicing Irish Solicitor or Irish notary public. However, you should in the first instance confirm with the authority to whom you are presenting the document that a certified copy will be acceptable to them.
Securely binding documents
A notary public specialises in authenticating documents, and a Notarial Act Certificate has recognition worldwide. A solicitor cannot bind documents - only an Irish Notary Public can securely bind documents together.
This will ensure that no documents are removed or added from a bundle of documents. No foreign documents can be within this bundle (for example, a foreign passport).
Best practice is for a notary public to bind documents and attach a Notarial Act Certificate to the front of the bundle, making reference to each document within the bundle on this certificate.
You should check with the authorities who you are presenting the bundle to that this is accepted by them - sometimes they will want each document stamped individually. Please be aware that we charge per stamp issued.
Where a solicitor signs documents, each document is treated individually - the stamp we issue only refers to this specific document.
The binding can be done in a variety of ways. If staples are being used, some additional security measure must be incorporated. This can be done by covering the rear side of the staple with a sticker at a minimum or indeed covering both sides of the staple.
If no sticker is present over the back of a staple, documents will be returned to be securely bound by the notary.
Only Irish public documents can be legalised. We reserve the right to refuse to authenticate / Apostille any documents that we deem not to have an appropriate Irish link.
All documents must be created in Ireland or show an explicit Irish connection – i.e. full Irish address / CRO company number / Irish government issued identification information.
Using couriers to collect documents
The Department of Foreign Affairs will facilitate the use of courier services for postal applications or returns. The onus is on the customer to make all arrangements.
A waybill can be emailed to the staff member you are dealing with and we can attach this on the envelope. We do not accept any responsibility for any lost or missing post.
Email enquiries regarding any of our services can be directed to our contact form here. This mailbox is monitored during work hours. If your request is urgent, please contact us by phone.
Our phone lines are open weekdays between 9.30 am – 12.30 pm at +353 (1) 408 2174.
Please note that threatening behaviour, abuse, derogatory comments or otherwise unacceptable behaviour towards our phone staff will not be tolerated.