Verification of Educational & Professional Qualifications

One of the jobs that a notary does is to verify the genuineness of educational or professional qualifications. The most typical of these are university degrees, medical qualifications and nursing qualifications.

Verification of documents and qualifications

For some countries it is only necessary for the notary to confirm to the intended recipient that the copy document being sent is a true copy of an original. For others it is also necessary for the notary to verify that the original is a genuine document produced by the educational or professional institution from which it purports to come.

That means that he or she must contact the institution and make his own enquiries direct. Often an additional fee is payable to the university or other body for this.

The reason for this caution is to help overseas bodies avoid the increasing number of fake qualifications being passed off as genuine documents.


Timescales for verification

Some universities take weeks to assist in the verification process, but others will do it within a day. There is no way to speed this up unfortunately. Verifying GCSEs and A-Levels is particularly tricky with some examining boards.

The notary will need to see the original certificates and to identify the client, so usually a personal meeting with the notary is required, and then the client will produce their passport or photo driving licence and a proof of address. If the client is abroad the notary can usually deal with a relative or friend of the client who is able to meet with the notary.

The notary’s work can be done within a day, but the process of verifying the documents with its issuing body is what may add a lot of time to the process.


Apostilles and Legislation

Legalisation is the process by which the identity and qualification of the notary, or such other person who has signed the document (such as a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages) is confirmed unequivocally to the person or body receiving the document.

Many documents produced by notaries also need to be legalised. There are two ways in which this can be done. If the country to which the document is to be sent is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1961, legalisation is by way of an apostille added to the document by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (the FCDO). If not, legalisation involves a certification by the FCDO followed by full legalisation by the UK embassy of the country in question.

For an apostille my consular agents charge £19.20 plus the cost of tracked mail return to the client or courier to the overseas recipient. This comes to either £29.20 or £79.20, depending on which option is chosen by the client.

For full legalisation there are additional fees payable to the consular agents and to the embassy in question. These vary from country to country but usually add around £50 on top of the cost of the apostille for a private client document, and often a lot more for commercial documents. I always provide a detailed quote for these services.

If only an apostille is required this usually takes about a week from the appointment to notarise the document, and if full legalisation is needed it may take two or even three weeks. By choosing the courier method of dispatch a few days can be saved.

Some of the embassies are very bureaucratic, and require additional tasks to be undertaken. For instance the Chinese embassy requires the client to complete, sign and produce a hard copy of a standard form of questionnaire, plus a copy of the client’s passport. Occasionally this adds to the notary’s charge for completing the legalisation process correctly.


If you have any questions at all about the verification of educational or professional qualifications, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss your needs.