Find out what it means when your local Dutch gemeente (city hall) requires a document be ‘apostilled’ vs ‘legalized’ or a translated document to be ‘certified’ vs ‘sworn’…
Newly arriving expats planning to stay longer than four months in the Netherlands are required to register with their local ‘gemeente’ (Dutch municipal office) which adds them to the national BRP database. For this to happen, certain documents need to be presented at the local city hall. Most documents from a foreign country require some form of translation and/or legal certification. Pay attention to the document requirements otherwise your documentation will not be accepted and you will need to make another appointment once you have the corrected documentation.
There are 4 different types of document certifications. It is important to understand the differences between them and the type of certification your document requires. This is based on various factors, including the country you/your document is from and the language it is written in.
Document translations and certifications in Netherlands
- Translated Document – This is the most basic Dutch-translated document because it can be performed by anyone who is fluent in Dutch and the original language which the document was written in. This type of translated document is never accepted by Dutch municipalities, Dutch law offices, Dutch notaries or other organizations which require an “official” Dutch-translated document.
- Certified Translation – This type of document is generated by a professional translator and is stamped and signed by the translator signifying he/she stands behind the correctness of the translation. The original document in the foreign language is attached to the translated version. This type of document is accepted when an organization has requested a “certified” Dutch translation. For example, a Dutch university may require a foreign student applying for admission to submit a “certified” Dutch translation of his/her prior school record. This type of document is usually not accepted by departments of local or national administration, such as the Dutch IND (Immigration en Naturalisation Department)
- Sworn Translation – This type of document can only be produced by a translator who is listed in the Raad voor Rechtsbijstand (Rbtv), the Dutch register of sworn interpreters and translators. The translated document is signed and stamped with the translator’s seal (which includes his/her number in the register). The translated document is attached to the original foreign language document. This type of “sworn” Dutch translation document is the type most often required by municipalities, the Dutch IND as well as law firms and notaries for many legal transactions.
- Apostille Certification – In 1961, several countries signed a treaty convention right here in The Hague which allowed certain administrative bodies within each country to be granted the authority to legalize copies of public documents. A document with the affixed ‘apostile’ is accepted as a legal copy of the original document in any country that is a member of the convention. As of today, more than 100 countries are treaty members. ‘Apostilled’ documents are commonly required of Americans, Brits, Australians and New Zealanders among others. An official copy of a document which does not have an ‘apostille’ stamp will be rejected by Dutch municipalities and other administrative organizations, such as the IND.
- Legalized Document – For all other countries which have not signed the ‘apostille’ treaty convention, the process their documents need to go through is that of ‘legalization’. So whereas an American national will need to provide an ‘apostilled’ birth certificate for municipal registration at a local city hall in Holland, a Brazilian national would be required to produce a ‘legalized’ birth certificate.