Certified Translation: Foreign Marriage Certificates for the Purpose of Divorce in the UK

Translation of foreign marriage certificates for general use in the UK, such as the Passport Agency, the Home Office etc, require our basic certification only. This means we attach a declaration to the translated document stating that it is an accurate translation of the document presented to us.

However, when we translate a foreign marriage certificate for use in a UK court for the purpose of divorce, the certification must be made with an affidavit, signed before a Notary Public.

This is stated within The Family Proceedings Rules 1991, from which I have extracted the relevant paragraph:

Evidence of marriage outside England and Wales

10.14—(1) The celebration of a marriage outside England and Wales and its validity under the law of the country where it was celebrated may, in any family proceedings in which the existence and validity of the marriage is not disputed, be proved by the evidence of one of the parties to the marriage and the production of a document purporting to be—

(a) a marriage certificate or similar document issued under the law in force in that country; or

(b) a certified copy of an entry in a register of marriages kept under the law in force in that country.

(2) Where a document produced by virtue of paragraph (1) is not in English it shall, unless otherwise directed, be accompanied by a translation certified by a notary public or authenticated by affidavit.

(3) This rule shall not be construed as precluding the proof of marriage in accordance with the Evidence (Foreign, Dominion and Colonial Documents) Act 1933[82] or in any other manner authorised apart from this rule.

It is worth mentioning that many judges around the country have accepted translations with only our basic certification, so it is always worth contacting the court to find out what type of certification they would accept.

Please, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly with any queries!

Certified Translation: Foreign Marriage Certificates for the Purpose of Divorce in the UK

Legalisation: How to get it right – Foreign Documents

Documents issued outside the United Kingdom cannot usually be leagalised in the UK. They may need to be legalised in the country of origin.

However, the Legalisation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK will legalise certified copies of foreign documents as long as the copy is certified with a separate sheet of paper, i.e. if the solicitor or Notary Public takes a copy of the original document, then stamps the same sheet of paper, the FCO will not legalise it. Just to complicate matters, this does not apply to certified copies of Academic certificates – they can be legalised without a separate sheet.

The solicitor or Notary Public must issue a separate sheet, stating “this is a true copy of the original document” or something similar; they would then need to stamp and sign this sheet and attach it to the copy of the document. The FCO will then attach the apostille on this certification.

Remember also that the solicitor must sign their own name, not the company name, as this cannot be legalised.

Points to remember:
1. Foreign documents should be certified with a separate sheet (except Academic Certificates)
2. Original foreign documents should not be attached – only copies.

Legalisation: How to get it right – Foreign Documents

Legalisation: How to get it right – GRO Documents

By the end of this post you should know exactly what to do in order to have GRO (General Register Office) documents legalised and how to avoid delays caused by documents prepared incorrectly.

In our office, we receive hundreds of documents every week for legalisation at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and we have noticed some common mistakes.

Some of the most common problems are related to General Register Office (GRO) documents, such as birth, death and marriage certificates.

The FCO will only legalise copies issued by the GRO themselves. Even if the copy has been authenticated by a solicitor or Notary Public, the FCO will still not legalise it. The reason for this is that they have been advised that the General Register Office (GRO) or local Registry Offices are the only designated authorities in the UK who may issue certified copies of these documents.

The same applies to Certificates of No Impediment (CNI) and “No Trace” letters issued by the GRO.

So basically, nothing needs to be done to this kind of document before they are legalised. There is no need for any certification to be added to them. Just send them for legalisation as they are.


Legalisation: How to get it right – GRO Documents