Although apostilles don’t have expiration dates, some overseas authorities might reject older documents, causing delays and frustrations for those relying on them. This is especially relevant for apostilles issued more than a decade ago.

The first step you could take is to ask the requesting authority if they would accept the existing apostille certificate.

Send them a scan of your existing apostille and ask them if they would accept it as it is.

If they don’t accept your old apostille certificate, this article outlines steps to take to either verify an old apostille certificate or how to get a replacement.

Bear in mind that in some cases, you may also have to replace the underlying document to which the apostille is attached.

Always remember that you need to make sure that the requesting authority will accept the legalised document. Old or new.

If you don’t want to get a new apostille and want to ensure that the existing one is accepted – find out what you should do next.

What’s considered an old apostille certificate?

While apostilles technically never expire, the age at which they raise potential acceptance concerns varies greatly depending on the specific overseas authority involved. Here’s a breakdown:

Generally accepted age range:

No specific limit: Many countries are lenient and accept apostilles regardless of age.

5-10 years: This range seems widely accepted without much scrutiny.

10+ years: This is where questions might start to arise, particularly for documents susceptible to frequent updates like:

  • Criminal record checks: Some countries prefer recent checks within 3-6 months.
  • Certificates of no impediment to marriage: Recent versions ensure accurate information.
  • Educational transcripts: Some institutions might request updated versions for verification.

Factors beyond age:

  • Stricter countries: Certain jurisdictions have stricter policies, applying age limits even for documents not prone to change (e.g., birth certificates).
  • Purpose of use: The reason for using the apostille can influence acceptance. Older apostilles might be questioned for critical purposes like visa applications.

First step:

Contacting the receiving authority directly.

Reaching out to the requesting authority directly is the crucial first step in verifying or securing acceptance of your old UK apostille.

Here’s how to approach communication effectively:


  • Tailor your communication: Adapt your message to each specific authority’s requirements and tone.
  • Keep records: Maintain copies of all communications and responses for future reference.

This direct approach ensures you receive the most accurate and up-to-date information and demonstrates your diligence in complying with their regulations.

Enquire about any additional requirements or steps you may need to take to ensure the document is accepted, such as undergoing further verification or obtaining a newer apostille.

Here is an email template that you could use:

Verifying Acceptance of my UK Apostilled [Document Type]


Dear [Name of Receiving Authority],

I am writing to enquire about the potential acceptance of my UK apostilled [document type] issued on [date] for your requirements.

I understand that some countries have specific regulations regarding apostille validity, and I would appreciate clarification on whether my document, at its current age, would be considered acceptable.

The document details are as follows:

  • Type: [Document type]
  • Issuance Date: [Date]
  • Apostille Issuing Authority: UK Legalisation Office
  • [Include any additional relevant details, such as reference number or unique identifier]

I have attached a scanned copy of the apostille certificate to this email for your convenience.

I am particularly interested in understanding:

  • Are there any age limitations for accepting UK apostilles in your jurisdiction?
  • Are there any specific reasons why an older apostille, such as mine, might be rejected?
  • Do I need to take additional steps to ensure the document’s acceptance, such as obtaining a newer apostille?

Thank you for your time and assistance in this matter. I appreciate your prompt response and look forward to hearing from you soon.


[Your Name]
[Your contact details]

An alternative route:

The UK FCDO legalisation office

While directly contacting the overseas authority is crucial, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) legalisation office is another avenue worth exploring. (email template below↓)

They maintain records of issued apostilles. While not guaranteed for older entries, contacting them might be helpful.

They can verify the authenticity of older apostilles by accessing their internal records.

You can find contact information on the GOV.UK website:

The Legalisation Office
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Telephone: +44 3700 002 244
Fax: +44 1908 716 911
General enquiries:
Contact persons: Mr. Chris Ward

Initiate contact: briefly explain your situation through email or phone, seeking clarification on the potential acceptance of your old UK apostille by a specific overseas authority.

Ask detailed questions about:

  • Age limitations: do they have any known age restrictions for accepting UK apostilles from that particular country?
  • Verification methods: can they verify your apostille directly or suggest alternative verification methods?
  • Known precedents: have they encountered similar situations involving older UK apostilles for that specific country?
  • Additional guidance: can they offer any further advice or resources to strengthen your case for acceptance?

While the FCDO legalisation office cannot guarantee overseas acceptance, their insights and information can significantly contribute to your understanding and potentially bolster your case for obtaining approval.

Here is an email template that you could use for the FCDO:

Subject: Seeking FCDO Assistance for Old UK Apostille Verification – [Specific Country]

Dear [Recipient Name],

I am writing to request assistance from the FCDO legalisation office regarding the validity of my UK apostille for use in [specific country].

I previously contacted the requesting authority in [country name] on [date], inquiring about the potential acceptance of my apostille issued on [date] for [specific purpose].

They kindly advised me to consult with your office to confirm the continued validity of my apostille due to its age of [number] years.

I understand your office maintains records of issued apostilles and might be able to verify the authenticity of my specific document. Having this verification could significantly bolster my case for acceptance by the [country name] authority.

I understand that your office cannot guarantee overseas acceptance, but your information and assistance would be invaluable in navigating this process.

I have attached a scanned copy of my apostille and a copy of the communication from the requesting authority for your reference.

Thank you for your time and assistance. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


[Your Name]
[Your contact details]

Turning to experts:

FCDO-registered apostille agents

Sometimes, directly contacting the overseas authority or the FCDO might not be feasible due to time constraints, lack of clear answers, or the need for more personalised assistance.

In such cases, consider engaging the expertise of FCDO-registered apostille agents. These professionals specialise in navigating the complexities of legalisations and apostilles.

How can an FCDO-registered apostille agent help:

  • They could take on the communication burden, directly contacting the overseas authority on your behalf, saving you time and effort.
  • They possess an in-depth understanding of specific country requirements and potential acceptance hurdles for older apostilles.
  • They handle the entire process, including any required follow-ups, allowing you to focus on other priorities.


  • Not a magic bullet: while agents offer valuable assistance, they cannot guarantee acceptance by overseas authorities.
  • Clear communication: share all relevant information upfront, including details about your old apostille and communication attempts with other entities.
  • Set realistic expectations: understand that the process may still take time and involve additional costs.

By tapping into the expertise of FCDO-registered apostille agents, you gain valuable support and potentially expedite the acceptance of your old UK apostille.

Frequently asked questions:

Maybe. Apostilles certify signatures, not document content. So, big changes (like a name change on an ID) might raise red flags for foreign authorities.

Play it safe and get a new apostille for your updated document. It’s always best to check directly with the authority requiring the document to confirm their specific requirements. Remember, an apostille stays with the original document, so you can’t just move it to a new one.

Then you need to order a new apostille certificate for your document. Customers often also use a newer version of the document whenever possible. Although a new apostille can be attached to the existing document with the old apostille.

The main risk is potential non-acceptance by the authority you need it for. Verifying its authenticity and confirming its acceptance beforehand can mitigate this risk. Consulting a lawyer specialising in international law is recommended for high-stakes situations.

Not exactly, but age can cause issues. Some countries want apostilles less than a year old for certain documents. Getting an apostille for documents older than 10 years, especially 20+ years, can be tricky or impossible.

This is because officials who signed the document might no longer be available, or their signatures recognised. So, while your old apostille might technically be valid, newer ones might be safer depending on where you’re using it.

Verifying or replacing an old UK apostille might seem like a bureaucratic labyrinth, but you can confidently approach this challenge with the knowledge and resources outlined in this guide.

Remember, the key is to be proactive, resourceful, and persistent.

  1. Start with direct communication: Contact the requesting authority, clearly stating your needs and seeking their verification methods and acceptance criteria.
  2. Consider the FCDO Legalisation Office: Explore their insights and guidance, especially if contacting the overseas authority proves difficult.
  3. Don’t hesitate to seek expert help: Utilise the expertise of FCDO-registered apostille agents for streamlined communication, tailored strategies, and reduced stress.

Remember, age doesn’t necessarily diminish the validity of your apostille. By taking the initiative and following these steps, you increase your chances of securing international recognition and achieving your goals.

This article has been written by experts and fact-checked by experts. We only link to high-quality sources like government information & data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. Reputable publishers are also sourced and cited where appropriate to support the facts within our articles. [editorial policy]

Government Websites:

Blogs and Articles:

Please Note: This list is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a qualified legal professional for specific guidance and assistance.