The process to authenticate documents in Nigeria is unfortunately more stressful than it should be. However, this article makes things easier for you by explaining the procedures involved and the key points to note before you proceed with authentication of documents such as results, birth certificate, marriage certificate, CAC company registration certificate, and other documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria.
In a nutshell, the steps to authenticate documents in Nigeria (at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja) are summarized as follows:
- Get a Notary Public to notarize the document – if required by the embassy or destination country (e.g. Chinese Embassy), otherwise you may skip this step.
- Take the document to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Abuja and fill the authentication forms at the Legal Services Division (LSD) of the Ministry.
- Obtain the appropriate cost quote for the document(s) you wish to authenticate, which is priced per page and then head to any major commercial bank to make a REMITA payment to the designated government account (provided by the assigned officer of the Legal Services Department).
- After making payment, return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legal Services Department to deposit the proof of payment (bank deposit tellers) and obtain an acknowledgement receipt issued by the ministry.
- Submit the document for authentication at the appropriate desk of the LSD at the ministry, after which you would be told when to check back for the authenticated document.
There is no guarantee that the document authentication process would be completed at the recommended date, so you need to be patient and possibly endure repeated visits to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ascertain the status of the authentication process.
The time frame for authentication of documents in Nigeria may depend on the kind of document or certificate in question, as different documents may require different follow up actions on the part of the ministry, prior to final authentication.
Accordingly, it is important to shed more light on the requirements for attestation of documents commonly handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria.
Authentication of Birth Certificate or Attestation of Birth
The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would authenticate birth certificate after determining that it is duly issued or ratified by the National Population Council (NPC), or that an affidavit to that effect is duly sworn or attested to at an appropriate court.
Note that birth certificates issued outside Nigeria (for individuals born abroad) cannot be authenticated by Nigeria’s ministry of Foreign Affairs. Instead, you have to authenticate it in the issuing country (i.e. country of birth).
Authentication of Marriage Certificate, Divorce Certificate, and Single Status Affidavit
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will authenticate marriage certificate only after determining that the marriage was duly contracted and that the certificate is authentic and issued by a competent registry or court.
On the other hand, authentication of divorce certificate by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is usually very rigorous and time-consuming if you follow the official protocol.
The Ministry will need to confirm that the divorce certificate is authentic, and was duly issued by a court to dissolve a lawfully contracted marriage.
Single Status Affidavit is also authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after determining that you deposed a legal affidavit affirming that you are indeed single and not currently in any marriage contracted under customary or statutory law.
Authentication of Police Character Certificate
The Police Character Certificate is the equivalent of what is known as Certificate of Good Standing in other countries abroad.
It essentially certifies that you do not have a criminal record and that you are not facing any criminal investigation in Nigeria currently. In other words, the Police Character Certificate certifies that your character is ‘clean’ in terms of criminal matters in Nigeria.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would authenticate the two pages of your Police Character Certificate – i.e. the main certificate itself and the second page bearing your fingerprints in the front and photograph at the back.
Nigerian International Passport Data Page
After confirming that your passport number corresponds with a duly issued and authentic Nigerian passport, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will authenticate your passport data page to validate your identity in line with the embassy’s requirement.
Authentication of Results and Academic Certificates (Degree Certificate, Transcripts, WAEC, NECO, Etc.)
To authenticate your academic results or other academic documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you must first certify the documents at the Ministry of Education.
Since the purpose of authentication or attestation is to certify that a document is authentic and duly issued by the appropriate authority, the Ministry of Education has the responsibility to determine the authenticity of your degree certificate, WAEC, etc.
After the Ministry of Education Certifies the academic document, you can then take it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authentication.
Bear in mind that these academic documents will be authenticated on a page by page basis. For example, if you want to attest your university transcripts, each page of the transcripts must be authenticated separately and costed accordingly.
Authentication of Other Documents
In addition to the common documents mentioned above, there are numerous other documents that you may need to authenticate, depending on the purpose for which you intend to use them in the destination country. Some of these other documents include:
- Corporate documents (Corporate Affairs Commission CAC Certificate of Incorporation, notarized contracts, affidavits, etc)
- Letter of Sponsorship
- Medical Report
- Declaration of Assets and Income
- Bank Statements
The authentication of these documents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs generally follow some kind of confirmatory actions to determine their authenticity and legal status.
Helpful Information and Important Points to Note
If you need to authenticate documents in Nigeria, it is advisable to make thorough inquiries from the embassy of your destination country (or the foreign authorities you will present the documents to) whether any additional conditions ought to be fulfilled as part of the legalization requirements.
For example, the Italian Embassy in Nigeria typically requires the authentication receipt issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for legalization of Italy bound documents. In essence, when you must present the receipt along with the authenticated documents when dealing with the Italian Embassy.
For individuals traveling to countries like Poland, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia, Czech Republic, and India for studies, the embassies typically require what is known as Letter of Eligibility along with the authenticated academic documents.
The letter of Eligibility is issued by the Ministry of Education when they want to certify your documents (especially degree certificate) there. In this case, you must obtain the Letter of Eligibility from the Ministry of Education, and then authenticate the letter along with your degree certificate and other academic documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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