If you live in the Netherlands, you may have to present official documents such as birth certificates for a variety of reasons – for example to apply for a residence permit at the IND. However, documents from other countries are not always suitable for use in the Netherlands. In many cases, an authority must first ‘legalise’ the documents, to prove that they are genuine. This is usually done in the country where the document comes from, which is often called the ‘issuing country’.
If important events in your life happened in another country, you must register these in the Personal Records Database (BRP) of your municipality. This could include presenting ‘source documents’, which include certificates of birth, paternity acknowledgements, adoption, marriage, divorce, or death. Doing so is crucial because it gives the municipality the information it needs for other official processes, such as registrations for family members or applications for citizenship.
Does My Document Need to Be Legalised?
- Certificates issued by an EU-member state: Certificates issued by an EU- government usually do not require legalisation nor translation. Certificates issued in a language other than the Dutch, English, French or German language, should be supplemented with a multilingual standard form. The multilingual standard form can be obtained at the authority which issued the certificate. Additional information on the multilingual standard form can be found here.
- Certificates issued by a non-EU-member state: Non-EU certificates may require legalisation and/or translation for use in the Netherlands. Documents from abroad must be translated into Dutch by a sworn translator in the Netherlands. If foreign documents have been issued by the relevant authority in French, German, or English, these will often be accepted. For country specific information on legalisation and translation requirements, please visit Netherlandsworldwide.nl
How to Legalise Your Documents
Other documents may need legalisation, but this process is different depending on the issuing country. Check how this works for your country on the Dutch government website.
For documents from some countries, you only need to get an ‘apostille’ instead of full legalisation. This process can be slightly faster because only someone in the issuing country needs to check and stamp the document. For other kinds of legalisation, you may need to repeat the process with Dutch authorities.
Both legalising and getting an apostille can be lengthy processes, so make sure to allow plenty of time. Registering documents at the BRP is free, but legalisation and apostilles cost money.
Translating Foreign Documents
In addition to legalisation or apostilles, you may need to have your documents translated by an official translator, listed on the register of sworn translators (website in Dutch). Note that documents in Dutch, English, French, or German don’t need to be translated.
Alternatively, if your document has been translated in the issuing country, you may also be able to legalise the translation together with the original document.
Learn more about official matters, formalities, and personal administration to arrange when moving to the Netherlands, such as car documents and household bills; get information about work and residence permits and other immigration issues; or find out about pensions in the Netherlands.