From 1 April 2011 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes will only accept applications received by post and will process all straightforward applications within 24 hours (excluding postal times). A majority of customers already send their applications by post – they will see the turnaround time halved. A third of customers come to the office in person – they will now need to submit their applications by post.

Julian Braithwaite, Director of Consular Services said: “We constantly look to improve the services we offer and make them more efficient. A postal only service will halve the turn-around time for the vast majority of our customers.”

Legalisation is the official confirmation that the signature, stamp or seal on a UK document is genuine. The legalisation does not certify the authenticity of a document or give Foreign and Commonwealth Office approval of its content. Legalisation is usually required by foreign authorities before they will allow a UK document to be used for official purposes in their country. The Legalisation Office is the only competent authority in the UK to issue legalisation or apostille certificates


What the changes mean for customers using the Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes:

Current Postal customers

Sixty per cent of customers already submit their applications by post – they will see the turnaround time for straightforward applications (excluding postal time) halved from 48 hours to 24 hours.

Current Counter Customers

The 30 per cent of customers who come in person will need to submit their applications by post from 1 April 2011. Updated detailed guidance on how to submit applications from 1 April will be on our website, www.fco.gov.uk/legalisation from 1 March.

Business Customers

Ten per cent of customers are businesses who currently have their applications processed within 24 hours. Business customers who submit large volumes of documents on a daily basis can pre-register to have access to a limited courier drop-off and collection facility at Milton Keynes with the same 24 hours turnaround. There is no additional cost for this facility. Details of how to pre-register will be available from the Legalisation Office website from 1 March.

There will be no change to the service offered at the Legalisation Office at Centre Point in Central London which serves business customers only.

Payments

The Legalisation Office encourages the use of on-line payments as the easiest and most convenient method of payment for customers. Customers applying to the Milton Keynes Office will still be able to pay by banker’s drafts, postal orders and business cheques. However, if the amount is incorrect, the whole batch of documents will be returned (whereas documents paid for on-line will be legalised and only the revised fee charged).

Further information:

For more information on service details and information on how to get documents legalised please go on-line at: The Legalisation Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/legalisation