Legalisation authenticates a signature and is sometimes mandatory

A legalisation is the confirmation of who has signed a particular document. By legalising a signature on a document, you make the document suitable for use abroad. Some countries require legalisation. If the required documents have not been legalised, your goods will get stuck at the border. This article will tell you when legalisation is needed, which documents require legalisation and how to apply for it at KVK.

Various organisations legalise Dutch documents. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK legalises business and commercial documents, such as a commercial invoice or lease declaration. KVK also legalises certain documents required by the destination country. There are some documents that KVK does not legalise.

By legalising a signature, KVK authenticates online that a document was signed by an authorised signatory from within the company or organisation that created the document. The signatory is an owner or director of the company, or a member of the organisation’s board. As a company or organisation, you can also grant an employee power of attorney.

Legalisation needed

Before closing a sales order with your foreign buyer, check the Access2Markets database to see which documents you need for the destination country. These documents will allow the customs service there to clear your goods. For example, a commercial invoice.

Acces2Markets can also tell you which documents must be legalised and who should do it. Sometimes documents also need to be translated.

Before you can used the Access2Markets database, you need an HS code for your products: a customs classification code. In the database, you enter the details on where your goods are coming from and where they are going. Then click ‘Search’. You will then see the procedures and formalities that apply to the destination country. You can find the required documents under “general” and “specific”, and see whether legalisation is required.

Consular Services Centre

After KVK has legalised a document, legalisation may still be required by the Consular Service Centre (Consulair Diensten Centrum or CDC in Dutch) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And even after that, some countries – China and Arab countries such as Egypt, Kuwait and Jordan, for example – require a third legalisation by their own embassy in the Netherlands.

The contents of the document

A legalisation only confirms who has signed a document. There are rules about what you can and cannot put in the document. For example, statements about religion or race are not allowed. Consult with KVK beforehand to see whether your document can be legalised. 

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Lease statements or driver certificates

A lease declaration or a driver’s certificate (berijdersverklaring) are forms of authorisation that are required in order to drive a lease or rental car abroad. Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Algeria, among others, require a legalised lease declaration or driver’s certificate. 


You can request a legalised lease declaration from your leasing company, and a legalised driver’s certificate from your car-rental company. You cannot arrange this at KVK. The company will do this on your behalf and pass on the costs to you.

For Belarus, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, after legalisation by KVK, the court will put what is known as an apostille on the document. In the case of Algeria, after legalisation by KVK, the CDC will legalise the declaration, after which the document must also be legalised by the Algerian Embassy or Consulate. 

Documents KVK does not legalise

Documents from Dutch government organisations can often be legalised directly by the CDC. The documents below are regularly presented to KVK. However, these are not documents KVK legalises. 

1. KVK Business Register products 

An extract (uittreksel) from KVK, or copies of the financial statements a business has filed, have already been certified by KVK. If you still need a further legalisation, you can ask the CDC. 

2. Free-sale certificate and food/non-food statements

Countries sometimes ask for a free sale certificate or food/non-food declaration when importing products. For example, for cosmetics. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) issues these declarations. The CDC legalises them. Getting a self-made statement from a company legalised is not possible. 

3. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) register of medicines 

Countries may require proof that your medicine is registered with the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EMA issues these statements. The CDC legalises them upon request. 

4. Diplomas

If you are going to work or study in another country, your employer or educational institution may ask for a legalised diploma / certificate. This will serve as proof abroad that your Dutch diploma / certificate is genuine and recognised. You usually have your diploma / certificate legalised first at the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs (DUO) (in Dutch) the Education Executive Agency of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. After that you need an apostille from the court, or legalisation by the CDC. 

5. Force majeure declaration

In your sales contracts, a clause on force majeure and how it might affect the performance of the contracts can be included. For example, a supplier might not be able to deliver goods because of a natural disaster or a war. No organisation will legalise such a statement.

6. Transportation documents

A transportation document is an agreement, such as a bill of lading or a CMR between the customer and a transport company. There is no need to legalise these documents. 

7. Apostille

Dutch courts also legalise documents, for example with an apostille. An apostille is a stamp or a sticker that proves that the signature on the document is genuine. You apply for an apostille, for example, for articles of incorporation of private limited companies or documents from legal bodies such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office, court clerks, or bailiffs. An apostille is not intended for commercial documents or customs formalities. You can apply for an apostille only for those countries that are signatories to the Apostille Convention. 

Applications for legalisation

You can apply online to KVK for legalisation of a document. KVK puts a digital stamp with the date and signature on the document by way of certifying its authenticity. KVK sends you an aggregate monthly invoice for the issuance costs – the fees. See an overview of the tariffs.