Legalization of documents of foreign origin (authentication)
Verified 01 January 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)
What is the purpose of legalizing a foreigner document? What documents need to be legalized? Does the document have to be translated first? How do I apply? We tell you what to know about the legalization of a foreigner document to make a approach in France.
The legalization of a foreign document may be required to make a approach in France. For example, to apply for French nationality.
Legalization attest the following information:
- Veracity of the signature
- Function and authority of the signatory
- Identity of the seal or stamp
An official legalization stamp is added to the document.
Only one foreigner document intended for French administration must be legalized.
A French document intended for a French administration must not be legalized.
One public foreigner act intended to be produced in France must be legalized.
One act private established abroad may have to be legalized.
That depends on gait for which it is to be provided.
Examples of such documents are: attestation on honor, acknowledgement of debt, letter of recommendation, certificate of accommodation.
physical certification of signature on an instrument private can't be done only in the presence of its signatory.
Some foreigner documents do not no need to be legalized due to a international agreement.
In particular, some public documents issued by a European Union countries.
For example, a birth certificate.
To find out if a document should be legalized, see the summary table of the current state of treaty law in legalization.
You can also find out from the embassy of the country of origin of the document.
Who shall I contact
A document written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation into french made by a authorized translator.
This translation must be done before starting the legalization process.
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Public document of foreign origin
The French Embassy or Consulate established in country issuing the act can legalize one public act of foreign origin.
The act must be pre-legalized by the competent authority of the issuing State.
It may be an act issued by the State of residence or by diplomatic and consular authorities of another State present in the territory of the State of residence.
For example, the French Embassy in Beijing may legalize a Chinese act or a public act issued by the German Embassy in Beijing.
Who shall I contact
Special case of an act of a foreign embassy in France
The French minister of foreign affairs may legalize one public act of a embassy or a foreigners consulate established in France.
This act must be destined to be presented to a other diplomatic and consular foreigner established in France.
Who shall I contact
the legalization office in the ministry of foreign affairs is not competent to legalize a foreigner act.
The time limit for legalizing a document is variable.
It depends in part on the processing time required to the authorities of country issuing the act for “pre-legalize” the document.
Indeed, according to the international custom, the legalization of a foreigners act intended to be produced in France is based on the principle of "double legalization" :
- Legalization by the competent authority of the issuing country (usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Over-Legalization by a French consular authority on site
Most countries subject to legalization follow this principle of double legalization.
Who can help me?
Find who can answer your questions in your region
- Regulation (EU) 2016/1911 on the simplification of the conditions for the submission of certain public documents in the European Union
- LAW No. 2019-222 of 23 March 2019 of programming 2018-2022 and reform for justice
- Constitutional Council Decision No. 2021-972 QPC of 18 February 2022
- Decision of the Council of State No. 457494 of 21 June 2022 (probative force of a legalized act)
- Council of State Decision No. 448296 of 7 April 2022 (annulment of the decree of 10 November 2020 on the legalization of public acts established by a foreign authority)
- Decree No. 2007-1205 of 10 August 2007 on the powers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassadors to legalize acts
- Order of 3 September 2007 on the powers of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassadors and Heads of Consular Post in relation to the legalization of acts
- Legalization or Apostille of a French Document for a Foreign AuthorityService-Public.fr
- Table on the current state of treaty law in legalization (PDF - 793.1 KB)Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
- Presentation in France of a document issued by a State of the European UnionEuropean Union