Procedure to Authenticate Documents & Certificates With Apostille Stamp in Nigeria

how authenticate documents in Nigeria ministry of foreign affairs authentication of certificate with Apostille stamp legalize documents abuja

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 may be necessary to authenticate such documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. This means that it is important to know how to authenticate documents at the ministry – specifically the procedure,  costs,  and other important details involved in the process.

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 or authentication seal basically lends international legitimacy to a particular document and certifies that it is original and was issued by the appropriate authority as claimed.

Depending on your individual circumstances and objectives,  some of the documents you may need to authenticate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs include: Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Death Certificates, Divorce Decree, Power of Attorney, Transcripts, Single Status Affidavit, International Passport data page,  Copy of Driver License, Authorization Letter, Police Authority, and Academic Certificates (degree, diploma, WAEC, etc).

How to Authenticate Documents and Certificates: The Official Procedure

The procedure to legalize or authenticate documents with Apostille Stamp at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja may seem fairly straightforward on paper, but as with all things that involve the government bureaucracy in Nigeria, artificial bottlenecks characterize the process. This makes it somewhat complicated and frustrating.

Depending on the document you want to authenticate and the country’s embassy you’re presenting the document to, 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.

However, to the best of my knowledge, the notarisation requirement is only applicable when you’re presenting the document(s) to the Chinese Embassy. In other words, if you’re authenticating the document for use in China, then it is compulsory to notarise it before taking it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authentication. However, if you’re presenting the document to other countries’  embassies, it may not be necessary to notarise the document. Simply take the document to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for legalization and authentication.

In the case of the Italian embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue an authentication receipt in addition to the authentication stamp appended on your document. The issuance of this receipt is applicable mainly for documents to be presented to the Italian Embassy, otherwise, the embassy may not honour the authenticated document.

If you’re authenticating an academic certificate such as WAEC certificates, then it is necessary to first authenticate it at the Ministry of Education BEFORE proceeding to the Ministry of Foreign affairs for subsequent legalization.

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 currently about  N300 – N500 per page, for which payment must be made to the Federal 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 or legalized at the ministry.

The official time-frame for authenticating documents and making them ready for collection is 48 to 72 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. Don’t be surprised if the documents take weeks to get authenticated, coupled with the incessant goings and comings you’d have to do to follow up on the status.

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 authentication seal within a couple of days (Monday to Thursday).

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 considerations.

Which Copy Should be Authenticated – Original Document or Photocopy?

A lot of people have asked whether the original copy or the photocopy of a document should be authenticated. The answer to this question is that it depends, as the jury is still out on this one

As a general guide, what we know is that the original copies of documents such as marriage certificate, birth certificate, divorce certificate, Police Authority Certificate and similar documents should be authenticated, whereas the photocopy of your academic documents and credentials should be authenticated.

If the original is too valuable to risk sending it through several tables (and risk losing it in the process), then perhaps you could try using a very good quality coloured photocopy that looks like the real thing.  I believe it is also fine to use good coloured photocopies for documents like birth certificates, as there’s not so much scrutiny in that regard. Then again, this is entirely up to you, and a lot depends on what the embassy you’re presenting it to requires.

The Unofficial and Quick Way to Authenticate Documents  at the MFA

What I described above is the official procedure. But as we all know, in Nigeria,  things can get stuck in man-made bottlenecks and take forever if you choose to follow the official process in government bureaucracy related matters.

Unofficially, you can authenticate documents and certificates at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the same day (in a matter of hours) if you are willing to do things the ‘Nigerian Way’.

When you have notarised your document with a certified Notary Public, (if you are presenting it to the Chinese Embassy)  take the copy 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 premises.

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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. Of course, this costs a whole lot more than the so-called official fee earlier mentioned, but the unofficial fee for authenticating documents (charged per page) varies,  depending on your bargain.

When you reach an agreement, pay and then follow the security man’s instructions. He may ask you to wait around for about an hour or come back later in the day to collect your authenticated document. If you’re very busy or in a hurry and choose to return later, you may collect his phone number and call later to confirm that the document has been authenticated/legalized and ready for collection.

With this unofficial process,  you don’t need to go through the hassles of the frustrating official procedure to authenticate documents. If you prefer to do things the official way and follow due process, then be prepared to end up waiting for weeks and wasting transport money going back and forth from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. This is unfortunate, but then, This is Nigeria.

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.

OPTIONAL DOCUMENT AUTHENTICATION SERVICE:

If you’re not based in Abuja and would like to get someone to help you authenticate your documents, we might arrange this for you, to help you save transport costs and the associated risks and logistical inconveniences. You could email us the soft copy of the document and then we will print it out and authenticate the copy for you, after which it will be sent to your location via courier. Alternatively, if necessary, you could send the hard copy document(s) via one of the popular transport companies or courier services to us in Abuja.

We will print out or physically receive the documents and sort out the authentication/legalization process on your behalf and then send the authenticated document back to you via courier or waybill. The whole process should take less than three days. Considering the logistics and effort involved here,  this is a premium service for which a premium fee will be charged. Kindly note that this optional service is not ‘cheap’, but at least you will be sure of getting your document duly authenticated/legalized and delivered to you with peace of mind.. Feel free to contact us if you need this service.

Email Address: impressions.ng@gmail.com

Phone Number+234 905 613 7169

82 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 (preferably 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. Note that the notarization requirement is if you’re going to China. Otherwise, you may not need a Notary Public. Simply take the photocopy of the birth certificate to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authentication.

  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 follow the procedure laid out here.

  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

    1. Thanks for the heads up. For those in Lagos, in case you’ve been wondering, there you have it.

      You need to find someone in Abuja to help you with the authentication process if you can’t make it there yourself.

  17. Wow. This thread has been very helpful. Thanks Impressions. I want to ask, hope the Russian embassy will not ask for the RRR and receipt like the Italian embassy? Also, do you have an agency that can help with documents authentication at the MFA in Abuja? Am in Ibadan and I do not know anyone in Abuja. Thanks in anticipation.

  18. Good day. Am currently working on a study visa and I don’t know the variety of docudocum that are needed to be authenticated.

  19. Good day. Who has a contact at the MFA on this authentication processes. I would be very grateful if I can get a timely response.

    Thanks.

  20. Pls I learnt we are to take the documents to the ministry of Education for authentication too before taking I it to the ministry of foreign affairs. How true is that?

    1. What kind of documents do you want to authenticate? I’m not sure whether authenticating it at the Ministry of Education is required and also don’t know the procedure for authentication at the Ministry of Education. But I’m sure you would ultimately need to authenticate the documents at the Foreign Ministry.

  21. Pls where can I certify visas and a death certificate? I was asked to provide a certified copy of both. Thank you

  22. Update: They said the documents must be certified by a person who is equivalent to a justice of peace or by a commissioner for deceleration

    1. Not really. It’s not required to present originals. Just go with (preferably coloured) copy of the document you want to authenticate.

  23. OK..tnx for ur prompt reply..I’m not in abuja and I have sent my documents to a friend to help me out…d copies are not coloured.. Is dat a problem.. Bcos dey are much

  24. Hi please i have a Question I’m a Nigerian living in Italy with an Italian 5 years Resident Permit, my Partner is a German we will be travelling to Denmark to Get Married there as it’s a Little bit easier there, we already contacted the Danish Registry Office we were told that I need My Birth Certificate, Marital Status, Certificate and Maybe the State of Origin, I’m now 23 i was born in 1995 can I still get an Original Certificate in one of the Hospital in My town Local Government even though I’m older than 18 and also my Birth wasn’t Registered. And secondly if I can get those documents how can i Authenticate them with full apostille to enable me to use it in Denmark.and also if my cousin can help me with the process. Please I need your help thanks.

  25. I am a Nigerian Living in Italy with 5 years Resident i have a German Partner. I and my partner decided last month to get Married in Denmark as it’s the Fasted with less paper work to get Married in Europe. But they requested my Birth Certificate and my Marital status Certificate, I will be 23 by September 27 I will like to know if I can get a Birth Certificate or Simply get the Declaration of age from the court in my local Government area. and also the State of Origin Certificate from them there along with the Marital Status Certificate. As I don’t live in Nigeria i have told my Cousin Brother to help me get all the paperwork completed. I don’t know the process of the authentication of the Documents with the Apostille, please can you kindly help me out thanks

  26. I really need your help on authentication of Documents issued in Nigeria, I will like to contact you directly if you can help me pls
    My Facebook name is OVERCOMER NELLY

  27. Well done @Impressions.This is so insightful; you have helped to shed light on an aspect of Government service that so many people do not know exists. The Government should ordinarily provide it freely to Citizens without any bottleneck. Keep up the good work and thanks.

    1. I believe it is standard practice to Notarise the document first before authentication. Maybe this can be skipped, but I think it is necessary.

  28. I am a Nigerian Resident in Italy with Full Italian Resident Permit my finance is a German we wanted to Marry in Germany or Denmark. But they required my Birth Certificate. and Marital Status Certificate, as I’m older than 18 years Old can I get a Birth Certificate in Nigeria? I will be 23 by September this year.and also if I can get it through my cousin Brother. He will help me request it and the State or Origin Document. I will also like to know the Process of gettimg it Appostilized as Nigeria is not among the Apostille Hague Convention thanks. I will really like to hear from you soon thanks. And also a Facebook contact will be nice too
    My Username is Nelly Overcomer. Thank you

    1. There’s no rule saying it has to be coloured. But I feel it is safer to use a coloured copy. Nonetheless, you may use a black and white photocopy.

  29. Please i want to authenticate my police character certificate..Do i need to take it to court for notarisation before going to ministry of foreign affairs… Thank you

  30. Must I go to abuja to authenticate my document, is there no ministry of foreign affairs arround lagos ibadan

  31. Hello Everybody.

    Thanks Impressions for this thread and the updates so far.

    The Italian embassy rejected my documents because there was no Remita (RRR) code and payment Receipt for payment to the Ministry of Finance. So I need to re-do the authentication again.

    My problem is that I have been trying to generate an RRR number at Remita website and it is asking me for a GIFMIS code.

    Does anyone knows the GIFMIS code for the MOFA and how much do click to pay for one document?

    @Impressions? Ideas?

    Thank you

    1. For authentication of documents to be presented to the Italian Embassy, an authenticated receipt will be issued by the MFA. I’m not sure about the Remita Code, but I assume it is included in the receipt.

      Were you issued an accompanying receipt with the authentication?

  32. @ CC

    I understand legalization at the Italian embassy is about 30k or 32 but hold 35k just in case. Please how did you generate the RRR for the payment at the Ministry of finance. Remita is asking me for a gifmis code. Do you know the code and how ,much per document?

    1. Well I guess that’s the problem. For documents to be presented to the Italian Embassy, an accompanying receipt needs to be issued by the MFA as part of the authentication. This applies only in the case of the Italian Embassy.

  33. Hi Impressions please do you have any WhatsApp contact so that i can contact you, i really need your help please, i’m in Urgent need of your help.
    Also i have one question, if my Cousin brother or Sister can be able to help me get my attestation of Birth and State of Origin Certificate. Must he be the person to still authenticate in Abuja or can i still use another person to do it, like a friend, i asked because my cousin said he won’t be able to go to Abuja because he’s busy for now, but that he.can help me get it from our Local Government. Please i really need your help and also if i can contact you through WhatsApp so that you can help me. The Nigerian Embassy here in Berlin, Germany is really on my Nerves i really need it

    1. It’s not compulsory that your cousin must be the same person to handle the authentication process in Abuja after getting your attestation of birth and local government certificate. We can help you with this. Send me an email at: Impressions.ng@gmail.com

  34. Please see below part of what i received from the institution that gave me admission in iran.
    This means i should go to iranian embassy to legalized or its the one that you are talking about(ministry of foreign affairs)?

    “Note that your previous degree certificate and transcripts have to get legalization in Iranian embassy in the country that you got the degree. It would be nice if you do legalization at this step and upload the legalized documents in the website. In the case the legalization takes time, please upload the document and manage for the legalization. Note that upon your registration, you have to provide the legalized documents”
    Thanks

    1. What this means is that you should first legalise the documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as explained in this article, and thereafter take the legalised documents to the Iranian Embassy.

  35. hello Bro….. Is it all documents that need(s) to be notarized before authenticating it at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Thanx Boss!

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