Procedure to Authenticate Documents & Certificates With Apostille Stamp in Nigeria

For Nigerians travelling abroad to study, settle down, do business, or undertake any transaction that may require their Nigeria-issued documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate and other legal documents, it is compulsory to authenticate such documents by notarising them and getting an Apostille stamp on them at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This means that it is important to know how to authenticate documents at the ministry,  especially the process,  costs,  and other important details.

In order to use public documents (issued in Nigeria) outside the country, such documents must be legalized, certified and authenticated through the Apostille authentication process carried out by the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Apostille Stamp basically lends international legitimacy to a particular document and certifies that it is original and was issued by the appropriate authority as claimed.

How to Authenticate Documents and Certificates With Apostille Stamp

The procedure to legalize or authenticate documents with Apostille Stamp at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja is fairly straightforward on paper, but as with all things that involve the government bureaucracy in Nigeria, artificial bottlenecks characterise the process.

The first step is to contact a certified Notary Public to notarise the document for you. This role is typically played by lawyers, and you should contact a lawyer to inquire about this. The cost of notarising the document is not fixed, as it varies significantly depending on the Notary Public in question and on your bargaining power.

After the document has been notarised by the Notary Public, the second step is to take the document with you to the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the actual authentication process takes place, with the appending of an Apostille Stamp on the document. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ask for assigned officers of the Legal Services Division (LSD), to whom you should directly submit the documents – usually between the hours of 9.am to 12 noon on Mondays to Thursdays.

Cost and How Long it Takes To Authenticate Documents & Certificates 

The Apostille document authentication process at the Ministry of Foreign affairs usually attracts an official fee that is typically less than N500 per page (currently about N300), for which payment must be made to the government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) at any commercial bank. Consequently, you would submit the bank teller to the designated cashier at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the issuance of receipt.

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However, do not expect that the official authentication fee is all that you would part with at the ministry, as you may have to grease some palms with tips in order to expedite the process. Otherwise, your document may take an eternity to be authenticated with the Apostille Stamp.

The official time-frame for authenticating documents and making them ready for collection is 24 hours, but of cause it can take much longer or much shorter than that depending on how ‘nice’ you are to the officials at the Foreign Ministry’s Legal Services Division. If you want your documents treated and stamped expeditiously, then it is advisable to encourage the officials with the little you can afford to spare. If all goes well, you should be able to collect your authenticated document with the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs Apostille seal by the next morning (Monday to Thursday) or within two days at most.

However, depending on the nature of the document, there may be some additional layers of work required – which means a longer waiting time for you to collect it. This is occasionally the case with certain types of certificates (such as marriage or divorce certificates, for instance) which may have to be sent to the issuing authority (e.g. courts or registries) for confirmation of genuineness prior to authentication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is not always the case though, as the additional vetting aspect may be sidestepped depending on certain prerogative considerations.

TheRealUnofficial and Quick Way to Authenticate Documents

What I described above is the official procedure. But as we all know,  things can get trapped in man made bottlenecks if you choose to follow the official process in government bureaucracy related matters on Nigeria. Unofficially, you can authenticate documents and certificates at the ministry within the same day (less than 2 or 3 hours) if you are willing to do things the Nigerian way.

When you have notarised your document with a certified Notary Public,  take the copies you want to authenticate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the main gate,  you would see security officers (policemen and Civil Defence personnel) guarding the place.

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Simply ask one of them to help you get the document across for authentication and indicate your willingness to pay the unofficial fee. It costs between N1, 500 – N2, 000 per document,  depending on your bargaining power. Pay about half of this and collect the security man’s phone number.

The security agent would likely ask you to wait around the premises or come back  a few hours later for the authenticated document. When you call him and he confirms that the document has been authenticated,  you can pay the balance and collect the document. With this unofficial process,  you don’t need to go through the hassles of the frustrating official procedure to authenticate documents.

So there you have it; that is how the Apostille and document authentication process works in Nigeria. If you need further clarification or would like to share your experience during document authentication at the ministry of Foreign Affairs,   feel free to drop your comments here.

34 Comments

  1. You need to pay a couple of thousands to get your documents authenticated quickly , and you can get it same day if you are willing to pay well.

  2. Hi, I need a birth certificate with an apostille stamp , do I need to get my birth certificate first and take it to the MFF for the stamp ?

    1. You should make a colored photocopy of the birth certificate, and then take the photocopy to a Notary Public (ask any lawyer) to get it notarised. After that, you can then take that photocopied version with the Notary Public stamp to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get it authenticated with the Apostille Stamp.

  3. hi ,am travelling to Dubai and I need to authentic my police clearance certificate, please I want to know(1) if I can send it to my brother in Abuja to help me with the process(2)the requirements (3)the amount for the whole process at the ministry of foreign affairs. Thank you

    1. Your brother can help you out with the process only unofficially. If you try to follow the official process, the guys at the ministry of Foreign Affairs would claim that you can not authenticate documents by proxy.

      Send the document to your brother and ask him to get a Notary Public lawyer in Abuja to notarise the police clearance (this coats between N5k to N10k depending on the lawyer).

      Thereafter he should take the document to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ask any of the security men guarding the entrance that he wants ‘express’ authentication. They would handle the process for him in exchange for some money (between N1,500 to N3, 000). The authentication would be done same day if you follow this unofficial process.

  4. Thanks alot for the insight….quite an eye opener..God bless u…
    Btw..i would want to know will the stamp on all original documents or i make coloured copies of all and submit allonh with original for stamping? Secondly, i would want more than one stamp o. Each document…how possible is that?

  5. Thanks alot for the insight….quite an eye opener..God bless u…
    Btw..i would want to know will the stamp on all original documents or i make coloured copies of all and submit along with original for stamping? Secondly, i would want more than one stamp o. Each document…how possible is that?

    1. You don’t have to submit originals for stamping. Just make a coloured photocopy of the document you want to legalize or authenticate and then submit that photocopy for both the Notary Public Stamp and the authentication stamp. It’s advisable that original copies of your important documents should not be tampered with.

      If you want more than one stamp, no problem. Just make as many photocopies of the document (after notarising it) and submit the photocopies for authentication accordingly. However, note that this will cost you more. Any amount of money you pay for document authentication at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is based on one copy alone, so be prepared to pay that amount on each copy of the document you want the authentication stamp on.

      1. Please…I need urgent helps about my documents, should I translate my document into italian language before going for authentication in abuja and before I will later sumit it to italian embassy…..please any use information
        Reply

        1. NO. You do not need to translate your documents first before taking them to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You get it authenticated and legalized at the Ministry first before you go for translation.

          TAKE NOTE. Do not give anybody/ the security men at the entrance of the Ministry money for them to go in at do it for you. The Italian embassy will not accept it if you don’t have the receipt and remita number which you used to pay for it. So you must first generate a Remita code called RRR at Remita website, then pay 300 naira for each document you want to authenticate at the bank and then go to the MOFA

  6. Please…I need urgent helps about my documents, should I translate my document into italian language before going for authentication in abuja and before I will later sumit it to italian embassy…..please any use information

  7. hello.. thanks for your insights and explanation. You mention that documents have to be photocopied in color in oder that the originals are not tampered with, but what if the require that the original certificates be apostilled not the color copies. what then?

    1. I’m not sure most institutions would require that the original document be stamped. In most cases, it is sufficient to authenticate a coloured copy of the originals, and present the original only for ‘sighting’ purposes. But if you are required to authenticate the original by stamping it, then you may proceed to do so…at your own risk!

  8. Hello please I need help. I am travelling to Singapore for a convention just two days and I was asked to get a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Honestly I really don’t know what to do. Please if any answer.

    1. Are you in Abuja? If you are in Abuja or you have anyone in Abuja to help you, you can simply go to the Foreign Affairs headquarters to get the letter. Besides, you did not specify the kind of letter you were asked to get from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

  9. Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I am not in Abuja and do not have anyone there. Also the letter there are requesting for is called letter of introduction. They say if I cannot provide an nvitation letter from Singapore. Then I should get a letter from Foreign affairs or Nigeria Embassy in Singapore. I am actually going for a convention.

    1. Well, I guess you’d need to go to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to get the introduction letter. The alternative is to find someone already in Abuja to do the running around for you. Of course he or she would have to grease a few palms there to get the stamped letter quickly. Since it is an introduction letter, my hunch is that the ministry would need details about you (name, state of origin, date of birth, etc and perhaps proof of citizenship such as your local government confirmation letter).

      You’ll have to find someone that can get to the ministry and make inquiries on your behalf. Don’t expect to follow the official process, because if you do, I’m sure the introduction letter will not come out until Christmas.

      1. Thank you so much. Presently I don’t have anyone in Abuja that can help. I don’t know if you any one can help out. Let chat privately.
        Thank you

  10. can i do the apostille authentication at the Lagos Office of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs? and can you help with the address ?

      1. I’m not really sure if there’s a Ministry of Foreign Affairs office, but I doubt. You can do a quick check on Google to find out. Otherwise, I think it’s just the headquarters in Abuja.

  11. I’m about to take my translated documents to the Italian embassy for legalization,..do you know how long the legalization would take And how much it costs

  12. Thanks a lot, I had to do an authentication for a client here in Abuja and this thread has been helpful.
    I’ll be in the Ministry of Foreign affairs by tuesday
    Thanks a lo

  13. I want to authenticate my affidavit in the ministry of foreign affairs, the court in my local government stamped already, what else do I need to know? If you have contacts in abuja please let me know, it’s urgent

  14. At the ministry of foreign affairs office in Lagos with address 15A Awolowo road ikoyi Lagos, can I authenticate my police clearance certificate there? Urgent reply please.

    1. I’m not really sure if you can authenticate documents at the Lagos office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Perhaps you’ll have to go there to find out if you’re in Lagos.

    1. I think the previous commenter would check the Lagos office after the holidays, hopefully, he or she would give feedback here if the Lagos office is able to handle authentication of documents.

  15. Hello, I’ll like to authenticate my international passport, I saw somewhere that I’ll need an immigration stamp on a photocopy of the data page before it can be authenticated at the MFA. Is this true please?

    1. Yes, that’s the procedure,. You can get this done at any immigration office near you before heading to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authentication.

      But of course, since this is Nigeria, I wouldn’t be surprised if that requirement can be skipped altogether if you grease a few palms at the MFA to get your passport authenticated right away.

  16. Please I don’t know if u know how long it takes the Italian embassy to do the verification of documents on family reunion. Thanks

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