Authentication of documents signed outside South Africa

If a document is to be signed outside of the Republic for use within the Republic, there are certain prescribed procedures to be followed for the document to be “authenticated” – this usually requires a trip to a Notary public and in some countries to our Embassy or Consulte for the appropriate official to attach an authentication certiciate before the document can be used here. The full rules are as follows:

AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS EXECUTED OUTSIDE THE REPUBLIC FOR USE WITHIN THE REPUBLIC (Rule 63)

In this rule, unless inconsistent with the context –

“document” means any deed contract, power of attorney, affidavit or other writing, but does not include an affidavit or solemn or attested declaration purporting to have been made before an officer prescribed by Section 8 of the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act, 1963 (Act 16 of 1963);

“Authentication” means, when applied to a document, the verification of any signature thereon.

  1. Any document executed in any place outside the Republic shall be deemed to be sufficiently authenticated for the purpose of use in the Republic if it be duly authenticated at such foreign place by the signature and seal of office –(a) of the head of a South African diplomatic or consular mission or a person in the administrative or professional division of the public service serving at a South African diplomatic, consular or trade office aboard (Para (a) substituted by GN R17663 of 13.12.1966); or(b) of a consul-general, consul, vice-counsul or consular agent of the United Kingdom or any person acting in any of the aforementioned capacities or a pro-consul of the United Kingdom; or

    (c) of any Government authority of such foreign place charged with the authentication of documents under the law of that foreign country; or

    (d) of any person in such foreign place who shall be shown by a certificate of any person referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) or of any diplomatic or consular officer of such foreign country in the Republic to be duly authorised to authenticate such document under the law of that foreign country (Para (d) substituted by GN R17663 of 13/12/1966.); or

    (e) of a notary public in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or in Zimbabawe, Lesotho, Botswana or Swaziland; or

    (f) of a commissioned officer of the South African Defence Force as defined in section 1 of the Defence Act, 1957 (Act 4 of 1957), in the case of a document executed by any person on active service

  2. If any person authenticating a document in terms of subrule (s) has no seal of office, he shall certify thereon under his signature to that effect.
  3. Notwithstanding anything in this rule contained, any court of law or public office may accept as sufficiently authenticated any document which is shown to the satisfaction of such court or the officer in charge of such public office, to have been actually signed by the person purporting to have signed such document.
  4. No power of attorney, executed in Lesotho, Botswana or Swaziland, and intended as an authority to any person to take, defend or intervene in any legal proceedings in a magistrate’s court within the Republic, shall require authentication: Provided that any such power of attorney shall appear to have been duly signed and the signature to have been attested by two competent witnesses.