Legalisation of foreign documents

Foreign public documents (issued by authorities) that are presented to local register offices to justify register entries or some other official activity must be appropriately legalised and a translation into Finnish, Swedish or English must be attached to them.

The document must be original or a copy that has been reliably certified. A reliably certified copy means that the authority which issued the document has certified the authenticity of the copy or that a notary public in the country in question has notarised the authenticity of the copy of the original legalised document. The above-mentioned copy must also be legalised. However, if the copy of the original legalised document has been certified by a Finnish diplomatic mission, it does not need to be separately legalised.

The legalisation of a document is a measure that is related to the customer’s legal protection. It ensures that the party issuing the certificate has the right under the country’s legislation to issue such a certification and that its content is correct and it is a valid document in the country of issue. For example, as regards marriage certificates, it is important that the officiator has under the country’s legislation the right to officiate at weddings.

Key terms

Legalisation using an Apostille

The document is certified using an Apostille (a stamp or a certificate on paper) if the country has joined the Hague Convention of 19611. You will find more information on Apostilles and the countries that have joined this Hague Convention on the website http://www.hcch.net. The website also provides information on the authorities issuing such a certificate in the different countries that are party to the Convention.

Certain public documents issued by authorities in EU Member States are accepted without an Apostille. You will find the EU countries at europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries_fi.

Translations

Documents are accepted in Finnish, Swedish or English. Documents in other languages must be translated into one of the above-mentioned languages. You can have the document translated in Finland by an authorised translator. More information on this is available on the website of the Finnish National Agency for Education (register of authorised translators, in Finnish). The translation will then be accepted as such.

It is possible to attach a multilingual standard form as a translation aid to a public document issued by an EU Member State. You can request more information on these standard forms from the authorities of the state in which you obtain the certificate. Alternatively, you can have the document translated by an official translator in one of the EU Member States.

Other translations made abroad must be legalised according to the above instructions for legalisation.

Legalisation

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