What is the legalization or Attestation of the document?

Legalization or attestation of the document refers to the process whereby a diplomatic or consular mission abroad certifies a document issued by their host country as a genuine document and can be used and admitted as evidence in that mission’s own country. In other words, this enables the authorities in that mission’s own country to accept these foreign documents as legal evidence.

For instance, if you have a document made by a private person or government institution in Tanzania, and you need to use this document in another country, say the Netherlands may be, the document needs to pass through the process of validation and authentication by several institutions/bodies for it to be legally acceptable for use in the Netherlands. This whole process is referred to as Legalization.

Why should the documents from Tanzania go through the Legalization process?

Generally, the document issued in one country/state is validly recognized as a legal or genuine document within the territory of the issuing country/state. Therefore, for it to acquire the same recognition out of the issuing country/state’s territory, it must be validated and authenticated by the representatives of the receiving country/state.

The authentication/legalization of a document is for a specific country/state, and it will be only acceptable and recognized as a valid document in that country/state only. If it needs to be used in another country/state, the document holder will have to go through the whole process of legalization specifically for that country/state.

Therefore, the international community through the Hague Convention, of 1961 abolished the Legalization of documents and established Apostille as a modality of authenticating the document to the effect that, once authenticated, and attested by one of the member states it will be legally accepted and recognized as a legal document within the territories of all other member states to this convention.

Tanzania is not a member and has not acceded to the Hague Convention, of 1961 the convention which abolishes the legalization of public documents from its members. The members of the conventions will recognize and accept a public document issued by one of its members as long as it bears the title “Apostille (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961)” in the French language.

Therefore, all the documents from Tanzania have to go through the legalization or attestation process for them to be valid and acceptable in the country of destination.

Whether or not legalization is necessary is within the discretion of the authorities in the destination country. But once Legalization is required the document must undergo the legalization process explained hereinbelow.

Legalization or Attestation of document procedures in Tanzania.

Legalization of the documents originating from Tanzania for use in any country abroad shall follow the below process;

First, the document shall be original and must have been authenticated by the issuing authority, then the document shall be taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, in Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, or Zanzibar, depending on where the document was issued. The MOFA will affix its stamp and sign the document authenticating that the document is issued by the authorized institution in Tanzania.

Thereafter, the document has to be taken to the diplomatic or consular mission of the destination country in Tanzania, where the Mission will also affix its stamp and signature, authenticating the stamp and signature of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania.

Despite affixing its stamp and signature to the document, the consular mission does not authenticate the contents of the document, rather it authenticates the stamp and signature of the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the hosting country.

From there the document will be valid for use only in the country whose diplomatic or consular mission, has legalized/attested the document. In other words, if the document from Tanzania has been legalized/attested by the Italy embassy in Tanzania, then the same document is valid for use only in Italy and not otherwise, in case the document needs to e used in Germany, it has to go through the above process under the Germany Embassy in Tanzania.


The above process might seem easier and straight-forward process, but in reality, it is not, the process is somehow complicated depending on the country of destination, the nature of the document to be legalized, and some other documents might require supporting documents and other technical issues, which can be easily obtained or dealt with by a lawyer.

If you have, ever had to legalize documents within Tanzania for use abroad, then you have no doubt experienced the frustration of having the document signed/executed only to find out later that the documents are not legally valid or acceptable.

To avoid all that, we at Eden law Chambers, can guide and assist you in the whole process of legalization of documents in Tanzania, making sure that only valid and acceptable documents are legalized, saving you time and the cost involved in the legalization process.

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