What are legalised documents and how can I get one?

You might have come across a phrase sounding something like ‘you must bring legalised documents with you’. Or, ‘documents with an Apostille’. Okay, sure, I guess I can do that… But what does ‘legalised’ actually mean? This scenario, where you need to bring legalised documents with you, is very probable if you are registering at a Dutch municipality to receive your BSN number. Or, opening a Dutch bank account and applying for residence and work permits. Perhaps even insurances and allowances.

Legalising documents means that they need to be verified before you can use them in the Netherlands. If, for example, you need to show your birth certificate whilst registering at a Dutch municipality, it needs to be legalised. Legalised documents have a stamp, called an Apostille, and might need to be translated. But let's get into more detail about that, shall we?

Image of legalised documents

What sort of documents need to be verified?

It mostly depends on the situation that requires the documents. But, an example could be your birth certificate, diploma or marriage certificate.

What does legalisation mean?

Legalisation or an Apostille (a sticker) just means that your documents are verified. They need to be verified to make sure that it is issued by an authorised person or institution. It also needs to be correctly signed. In short, it is a method of proving authenticity. This process needs to be carried out in order for your documents to be valid and useful in the Netherlands.

Don't forget to translate them

After you have had your document legalised, it may have to be translated. If your document is in Dutch, English, German or French, you are in the clear and you don’t need to get it translated. However, if your document is in any language other than these, you must translate it. This is important, because along with the actual document, the legalisation and the Apostille must also be translated.

You can get your documents translated in the Netherlands. You can find certified translators on the Bureau BTV page, under ‘Ik zoek een tolk/vertaler’.

If you can’t do it in the Netherlands, you can also use a certified translator abroad!

Where can I get legalised documents?

Depending on where you come from, there might be different steps to legalising your documents. For instance, you might have to get your documents legalised at a registry office in your home country. The Dutch government has a really handy website where you can enter your nationality or place where the documents were issued. Then, they will provide step-by-step procedure as well as links to where you can get your documents legalised.

There are also certain requirements that your documents need to meet, depending on the country they were issued in. This is all stated on the government website!

Sometimes, you can get them legalised in the Netherlands at a district court. Use this website to find the nearest one to you!


These are the basics when it comes to legalised documents. You need to get them stamped and translated before you can use them here, especially for financial matters. One thing to keep in mind is that it can take a while to get your documents legalised or used with an Apostille. So, it might be a good idea to check out the procedure beforehand and make the necessary appointments in time!