What Are Legalised Documents and How Can I Get Them?

You must have come across something along the lines of  ‘you must bring legalized documents with you’ or ‘documents with an Apostille’ at least once in the Netherlands. But what does ‘legalised’ actually mean? Legalised documents are often needed if you are registering at a Dutch municipality to receive your BSN number or when opening a Dutch bank account and applying for residence and work permits. You might even need them for insurances and allowances.

Legalised documents mean that they have been approved for use in a foreign country by the issuing country's administration. 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. Depending on the language they're in, they might need to be translated. But let's get into more detail about that, shall we?

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What sort of documents need to be legalised?

It mostly depends on the situation that requires the documents. Common documents are: birth certificate, diploma, or marriage certificate.

What does legalisation mean?

Legalisation or an Apostille just means that your documents are verified. They need to be verified to make sure that they have been issued by an authorized person or institution. They also need 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 useable in the Netherlands.

Don't forget to translate them

After you have had your document legalised, it may need to be translated. If your document is in Dutch, English, German or French, 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.

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

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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 a 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!


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 so it might be a good idea to check out the procedure beforehand and make the necessary appointments in time!

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