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Ways to legalize documents for a Netherlands visa application

Everyone who applies for a Netherlands visa has to show a list of documents to the competent Dutch authorities. These documents may include civil status documents (such as marriage and birth certificates), court orders, or university diplomas.

Since these types of documents are issued in the applicant’s country of residence, in order to be eligible in the Netherlands, they have to be legalized.

There are competent authorities who are in charge for the legalization of documents for a Netherlands visa.  When a document is being legalized, the competent authorities check:

  • Whether the document was issued by a competent authority in your home country
  • The document’s seal/stamp and signature are authentic
  • The document is issued in the correct format

The way you can legalize a document for a Dutch visa depends on your country of residence.

Legalization of documents for Netherlands Visa through an Apostille Stamp

The Netherlands is part of the Apostille Convention, which consists of 117 member states. The states that are part of the Apostille Convention have made the process of legalizing documents for other member countries easier.

This means that if you are from another country that is part of the Apostille Convention, you do not need to have your documents legalized by both authorities: your own country’s authorities as well as Dutch authorities. All that is needed is an Apostille Stamp which you can receive from the competent authorities in your home country, (typically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

If a document has an Apostille Stamp, the Dutch authorities will accept it as valid for use in the Netherlands.

Requirements for your document

Before the authorities in your country can legalize your document through an Apostille Stamp, the documents have to be up to standard as well.

For one, the document has to be original and complete, and include any other documents or annexes it refers to.

It has to be issued by the official authorities in charge for issuing that document in your country. An official from the issuing body must then sign it. In many cases, you may also need to have it certified by a lawyer or notary.

The document must also be translated into one of the official languages in the Netherlands.

Which documents can be legalized?

The most common documents that can be legalized are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Documents proving unmarried status
  • Academic certificates
  • Business contracts

Legalization of documents for Netherlands Visa for non-Apostille Convention members

If you are from a country which is not in the Apostille Convention, the process of having your documents legalized is slightly longer and more complicated.

The process goes as follows:

  1. Once you obtain a document (which meets the requirements above), you must present it to a competent authority in your home country (typically, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
  2. They confirm whether it has been issued and signed by the correct authorities by placing a sticker or a stamp on your document.
  3. This sticker/stamp informs the Dutch authorities that you received your document from the appropriate authorities.
  4. Next, once your home country’s authorities have confirmed the authenticity of your document, Dutch authorities must do so as well.
  5. It is the Dutch embassy/consulate in your country who must legalize the document and place their own sticker/stamp to it.

Legal translation of documents for Netherlands Visa

All documents that you have to present when applying for a Netherlands visa have to be in one of these languages:

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Dutch

If they are not, you must have them translated by a sworn translator. Your translator must be certified by a Dutch court.

If your translator is not registered in the Netherlands, the translated documents have to be legalized as well.

The only documents that do not require translation are multilingual extracts from civil status records, seeing as they are issued in nine languages.

Legalization of documents for EU nationals

EU nationals who have to present a document to Dutch authorities no longer need to have their documents legalized with an Apostille Stamp.

In February 2019, a Regulation came into force which has made the process of presenting documents between different EU member countries easier.

According to The Regulation on Public Documents (Regulation 2016/1191), which was adopted on 6 July 2016 and came into force 16 February 2019:

  • EU countries must accept public documents, such as birth/marriage/death certificates, which have been issued by another EU member country as authentic without needing an Apostille Stamp.
  • EU citizens no longer have to provide both an original public document and its certified copy. The Dutch authorities, in this case, must accept the document from the other EU country it was issued from.
  • EU citizens no longer have to provide a translation of their public document. In this case, if the document is not in one of the languages accepted by Dutch authorities, you can request that the authorities in your home country issue a multilingual standard form, available in all EU languages.
  • If the EU authorities in the country you are presenting the document (in this case, the Netherlands) require you to provide a certified translation, they have to accept a translation from any EU country as well.

Legalisation of Dutch documents to present in foreign countries

The same procedure applies if you have Dutch documents which you must have legalized before presenting to the authorities of another country.

If the foreign country in which you are presenting the document is part of the Apostille Convention, you must get an Apostille Stamp.

If the foreign country is not part of the Apostille Convention or the EU, you must have your documents legalized at the foreign country’s embassy or consulate. Before that, Dutch authorities have to confirm their authenticity.

You can find a list of the member countries of the Apostille Convention listed on HCCH’s website (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

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