The FCDO is the only competent authority in the UK that can issue apostille certificates. When a country joins the Apostille Convention, it must designate a Competent Authority. Competent Authority may be assigned to one or many government agencies. Only those designated as a Competent Authority have the privilege to issue an apostille.
The Competent Authority has other obligations on top of issuing apostilles. The Competent Authority is responsible for verifying the origin of a document and following up with the appropriate personnel if appropriate.
When an apostille is issued, the Competent Authority must record the details surrounding the apostille in the Register of Apostilles.
The Competent Authority is also responsible for combating fraud. Activities the Competent Authority looks for include:
- Detaching an apostille from one document and affixing it to a different document.
- The issuing of an “apostille” by a person who no longer works for the Competent Authority
- Using an apostille to give a false document authenticity.
The Competent Authority of each country can be found on the HCCH website