Document Legalization and Authentication in Nigeria – Step By Step Guide

Getting ready to move to a new country always entails a lot of paperwork! Since certain countries only recognize legalized international certificates, it’s a good idea to have those you’ll need abroad authenticated until you travel. This method verifies that a certificate was issued by a legitimate authority and that the signature is authentic. Learn about the legalization of documents in Nigeria.


What is Document Legalization?

Legalization, also known as document attestation, is a process that involves the formal validation of Nigerian documents for use in other countries. The Embassies and Consulates of the destination countries are usually in charge of this process. For example, if you need anyone in the UAE to look after your property on your behalf, you’ll need a power of attorney from the UAE embassy in Nigeria. They have no legal standing in the UAE until they take this important measure. All Nigerian certificates that are to be used in any foreign country are subject to these conditions.


In Nigeria, document authentication entails the procedure of certifying documents, while document legalization entails the certification of a document that has already been authenticated at the embassy or mission of the foreign country where the document may be used or presented. A document must be authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja before it can be legalized. Nigeria does not issue apostille stamps because it is not a member state to the Hague Apostille Convention, which eliminates the need for legalization for foreign public documents. In Nigeria, the authentication performed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs replaces the apostille.


Document Legalization For Education Purposes

For educational document legalization, three steps and three different authorities are involved in the verification process before the oversea authorities accept the public document.  The documents should be notarized in the Ministry of Education and Science, and also in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After that, all the educational documents are submitted to the consulate or the embassy of oversea country for the final checking.


The 3 Step Procedures & Authorities in the Document Authentication & Legalization Process:

  1. Ministry of Education: Authentication by the Nigeria ministry of education (Incase if needed; It Only applies for educational purposes)
  2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Additional legalization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria
  3. DestinationForeign Country Embassy or Consulate: Completion of the legalization process by the foreign country embassy in Nigeria


In a nutshell, the key measures for document authentication at Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are as follows:

  • If the embassy or destination country requires it, get the document notarized. Otherwise, you may skip this stage.
  • Bring the document to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Abuja headquarters and fill out the authentication forms at the Ministry’s Legal Services Division (LSD).
  • Obtain a cost quote for the document(s) you wish to authenticate, which is priced per page, and then make a REMITA payment to the designated government account (provided by the assigned officer of the Legal Services Department).
  • Return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legal Services Department after making payment to deposit the proof of payment (e.g. bank deposit tellers) and receive an acknowledgment receipt from the ministry.
  • Submit the document for authentication at the required LSD desk at the ministry, and you will be notified when the document has been authenticated.


There is no assurance that the document authentication will be done by the recommended deadline, so you will have to wait and maybe make several trips to the ministry to find out how far along the process is.

The time it takes to authenticate documents in Nigeria varies depending on the type of document, as different documents can necessitate different follow-up actions on the Ministry’s part before final authentication.


What Documents We Legalize

  • Birth certificate or Attestation of Birth Certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce certificate
  • Single status affidavit
  • Police character certificate
  • Nigerian International Passport Data Page
  • Academic documents (results, degree certificates and transcripts)
  • Incorporation documents
  • Authorization letters
  • Declaration of assets
  • Bank statements
  • Sponsorship letters, etc.
  • Death Certificates
  • Change of Name Certificates
  • Diplomas, Degrees, Transcripts
  • Non Impediment to Marriage Certificates
  • Statement In-lieu of Certificate of Non-impediment to Marriage Abroad
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Criminal Record Check Certificates
  • Fingerprints
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada documents
  • Corporate Documents
  • Commercial Invoices
  • Medical Reports
  • etc.


When a birth certificate, police character certificate, or marriage certificate has to be legalized, it must first be notarized by a Notary Public, then validated by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and finally legalized by the embassy. It’s important to note that not all documents are appropriate for legalization. Many embassies, for example, may not legalize any documents that are in violation of their domestic laws or whose material may cause harm to their own people. Any document bearing an unusual seal or stamp that differs from those used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be disqualified for legalization.


Given how time-consuming and burdensome the process is, it might be worthwhile to hire the services of a reputable Law Firm who can complete it quickly using their experienced public notary. Contact us!




Written By:

Ebere Josephine Uba – (Lead Digital Strategist, Olisa Agbakoba Legal)