How to go about legalization and authentication of documents for visa application in Nigeria


By Olushola Samuel

Document legalization is a crucial step in many visa application processes. Following the authentication of documents at the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you may need to proceed with legalizing them at the embassy of the destination country. It's essential to note that procedures, prerequisites, and fees for document legalization in Nigeria vary among different embassies.

Let me give a summary of some common countries that do or do not require legalization of documents below:

📍Austria - Legalization

📍 Poland - Legalization

📍 Finland - Legalization

📍Germany - Legalization

📍Belgium - Legalization

📍Spain - Legalization

📍Portugal - Legalization

📍Italy - Legalization + Translation

📍Czech Republic - Legalization

📍Malta - No legalization

📍The UK - No legalization

📍Sweden - No Legalization

For instance, if you plan to use your Nigerian marriage certificate for a residency permit in Dubai, UAE, you must first authenticate it at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. Subsequently, the document should be taken to the UAE Embassy, also located in Abuja, for legalization.

To simplify this process, I will provide detailed information on the document legalization procedures we have encountered at certain embassies. This guidance will prepare you for what to expect when presenting your authenticated documents for legalization at the embassy in Nigeria corresponding to your travel destination.

It's important to note that, irrespective of the embassy or destination country, the initial requirement is always to authenticate your documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Keep in mind that legalization costs for each embassy are subject to change without notice and can fluctuate based on current exchange rates.

Legalization Procedures at Various Embassies in Nigeria:

Austria Embassy in Nigeria

Full legalization is necessary due to the absence of current bilateral agreements with the issuing country. Ensure that the original document is certified, legalized by the appropriate Austrian representative authority in the issuing country, and bears all required stamps before translation. The translated document must be permanently attached to the original document. This is as follows: legalization by the relevant government ministry ministry of education and additional legalization by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, and completion by the Austrian embassy in Abuja. The cost of legalization per document is €80.

UAE Embassy in Nigeria:

For individuals heading to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the UAE Embassy in Abuja imposes a legalization fee of around N20,000 Naira per document page. Notably, only original documents, not photocopies, are accepted. Prior authentication at the Ministry of Education is mandatory for academic records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents. Academic results require an additional letter of eligibility from the ministry of education. Processing at the UAE embassy usually takes two to three days, but delays may occur due to network issues.

Qatar Embassy in Nigeria:

The Qatar Embassy in Abuja mandates notarization and Ministry of Foreign Affairs authentication before document legalization. Original documents must be presented, and legalization services are available only on Mondays and Wednesdays. As of July 2023, the fee is approximately N25,000 Naira per document, with an average processing time of 3 to 7 days. Completed legalizations can be collected on the next operation day (Monday or Wednesday).

Poland Embassy in Nigeria:

The legalization process at the Polish Embassy in Abuja is known for its stringency, costliness, and complexity. Similar to the UAE embassy, only original documents are accepted, and a letter of eligibility from the Ministry of Education is required for academic results. For representation by a third party, a letter of authorization specifying the person's name is necessary. Booking a legalization appointment through embassy agents unofficially costs about N30,000 Naira. On the appointed date, the official legalization fee of 30 Euros (approximately N35,000 Naira, depending on exchange rates) per document is paid via bank transfer. The entire process, from booking an appointment to document submission and collection, spans roughly one month.

Portugal Embassy in Nigeria

Legalization at the Portuguese embassy in Abuja, Nigeria is now done only on Thursdays and usually between the hours of and 12. noon. However, it involves  you  going to the embassy as early as possible in order to register and beat the long queues of individuals that also came for legalization.

You would have to go to the bank and pay the official Portuguese embassy legalization fee of approximately N16, 500 per document and then present the payment receipt along with the document to be legalized.

You or your representative would then be given a form to be filled and provide a copy of your International Passport data page before you submit the document you want to legalize. The procedure may take about two or more days to finalize, although you typically need to go to the embassy very early in the morning to book a legalization appointment. You would be issued a receipt along with the legalized document.

It is important to note that legalization at the Portugal embassy is now particularly  stressful, difficult and expensive all-round. Since they only open on Thursdays, there’s usually a large crowd of applicants who would arrive before day break. The embassy only attends to about 30 legalization applications per Thursday, so it is a challenge to make it through the hundreds of applicants you would have to contend with.

Besides, for documents such as marriage certificate, birth certificate and police character certificate, the Portugal embassy carries out a verification procedure before proceeding with legalization of the documents. You would need to pay significant fees for this verification procedure which can take between one week and three weeks, before you then pay the official embassy legalization fee for your documents.

Legalization of Documents at the China Embassy

The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria (located in Lagos) requires that you must notarize the document in addition to the standard authentication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before it can be presented for legalization.

The China Embassy accepts authenticated and notarized photocopies of documents such as academic results and marriage certificates (except for documents such as Police Character Certificate). However, you must present the original of the documents to be authenticated for sighting and confirmation purposes.

The embassy also requires that you provide a letter stating the reason why you want to legalize the document and the purpose of your intended travel to China. A copy of your international passport data page is also required to be submitted in addition to the documents that need to be legalized.

The official legalization fee for the Chinese Embassy is approximately N10,000 Naira and the processing time can range from 2 to 5 working days.

Legalization of Documents in Italian Embassy in Nigeria

The Italian embassy is located in Lagos, and that is where all activities pertaining to legalization of documents meant for Italy will take place. As part of the legalization requirements for the Italian Embassy in Nigeria, you are expected to provide the official authentication receipt issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in addition to the authenticated documents. Without this receipt, the Italian Embassy will not legalize your documents.

Authentication of documents in Nigeria

Authentication of documents is done before legalization/Verification at the embassy. Authenticating documents in Nigeria, particularly at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, can be a complex and daunting task for those unfamiliar with the bureaucratic procedures. To simplify this process, I outline the necessary steps and crucial details for document authentication. Documents that may require authentication are academic results, birth certificates, marriage certificates, company incorporation documents, police character certificates etc. The steps involved is as follows:

1. If required by the embassy or destination country (e.g., Chinese Embassy and Qatar Embassy), engage a Notary Public to notarize the document; otherwise, skip this step.

2. Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Abuja, complete authentication forms at the Legal Services Division (LSD), and submit the document.

3. Determine the applicable official document authentication fees, make a REMITA payment at a major commercial bank to the designated government account, and provide proof of payment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to obtain an acknowledgement receipt.

4. Submit the document for authentication at the LSD desk, and await notification on when to retrieve the authenticated document.

Be prepared for potential delays, as there's no assurance that the authentication process will be completed on the suggested date. Patience and possible multiple visits to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be required to track the status. The timeframe for document authentication varies based on the document type, with different documents necessitating distinct follow-up actions by the ministry prior to final authentication.

Agency Assistance By Globereach Career Consult

If you need expert assistance with authentication of documents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and subsequent legalization of documents in Nigeria, at the embassy of the country you intend to travel to kindly contact us.

Please note that our assistance for embassy legalization is conditional, as we are not always able to undertake the legalization process at every embassy. However, if within our ability, we will be glad to advise you on the best way forward and possibly assist you for a fair service fee.

For more information on any of our services, contact us on:

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