Certain authentication requirements apply to documents that are signed abroad but are intended for (legal) use in South Africa. The documents required for the transfer of ownership of property is one example of documents requiring authentication.
How these documents must be authenticated depends on the country where these documents are signed. The following guideline will assist you.
• General rule
In terms of High Court Rule 63 entitled Authentication of Documents Executed Outside the Republic for Use Within the Republic ‘authentication’ is defined as a method of ‘ the verification of any signature thereon’.
This means that documents must generally be signed by the parties in the presence of:
• the head of the South African diplomatic/consular mission;
• a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving as a South African diplomatic consular abroad;
• any government authority of such foreign country charged with the authentication of documents;
• the consul-general, consul, vice-consul or consular agent of the United Kingdom in that foreign country.
An authentication certificate, signed by the above person, must be attached to the documents.
• If the document is signed in Botswana, Lesotho, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
In this instance, it is sufficient for the documents to be signed in front of a Notary Public practicing in that country. The Notary Public shall identify the signatures, sign the document and affix their seal of office to the documents.
• Member states of the Hague Convention
Otherwise, if the country is a member state, documents can be signed in front of a South African diplomatic or consular agent. These documents will then be authenticated by an Apostille, issued and signed by the above person.
It is of utmost importance that the correct procedure is followed, as non-adherence will cause delays as the deeds office or Court may insist that the documents be re-signed.
For any queries in this regard, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and see our note here.