If you intend on remarrying abroad, you may be required to give legal evidence of the divorce by providing an apostille stamp on your decree absolute document.

At Notary.co.uk, our team of professional and expert notaries can assist you with authenticating your document.

Find out more about what a decree absolute is and our process for legalising this document.


Jump to…

  1. Process to Apostille a Decree Absolute
  2. What Documents Are You Required to Provide When Applying for an Apostille Certificate?
  3. Check your document
  4. Why You Might Need an Apostille for a Decree Absolute
  5. What Is a Decree Absolute?
  6. How to Get a Copy of Your Decree Absolute
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Process to Apostille a Decree Absolute

To obtain an apostille, you will need to submit your decree absolute document to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Legalisation Office (FCDO). 

There are two Legalisation Office counters – one in London (Premium Service) and one in Milton Keynes (Standard Service). We offer a premium next-day apostille service for urgent matters and a standard 3-5 working day apostille service if you are not in a rush.

Notary.co.uk can assist you with our fast and cost-effective services and walk you through every step of the process:

  1. If your decree absolute document has been issued with an original court seal or has been signed by a district judge, you will only be required to use our apostille service. However, if it does not contain either one of the above, then our highly trained team of notaries public can assist you with notarising the document.
  2. Contact us and tell us what you need.  We will ask you to complete our online Client Registration Form and explain how we will complete the identification and verification process.
  3. You can book an appointment to deliver the original decree absolute to us, email us a scan at info@notary.co.uk or post the original to our London Victoria office.
  4. We will then have the document certified and apostilled at either FCDO location. If you need consular legalisation, we will also complete that process for you.
  5. Once this has been completed, we will scan the document with the apostille certificate and return the document back to you. We can also arrange to send the document to a third party if needed.

If you need your decree absolute document notarised or issued with an apostille or consular legalisation, we’ll be able to support you with our exceptional services.

What Documents Are You Required to Provide When Applying for an Apostille Certificate?

To get an apostille certificate you will need to provide us with the following:

  1. An original document stamped sealed or signed by a court or an official of the court.
  2. An original document not stamped sealed or signed by a court or an official of the court.
  3. An electronic copy

If you provide us with option 1: an original decree absolute stamped, sealed or signed by the court – this can be apostilled directly.

If you provide us with option 2 an original document not stamped, sealed or signed by the court, or option 3, an electronic copy – these documents will need to be notarised first.  

Our notaries can complete the notarisation for you if needed. If you have already had these documents notarised, we can submit them directly to be apostilled.

Check your document

We notarise many types of documents and can provide different types of certification to meet your needs.

The most popular documents we see are powers of attorney, passports, educational certificates and Companies House documentation. However, there are many other types we see regularly and are familiar with.

If your document is not listed and you are unsure if we can help, email us at info@notary.co.uk and we will be happy to confirm.

Why You Might Need an Apostille for a Decree Absolute

If you plan on remarrying abroad or wish to revert to using your maiden name, you may be asked to apply for an apostille.


An apostille certificate is used to authenticate a decree absolute issued by a UK court or signed by a notary public in the UK for overseas purposes. The certificate gives legal evidence of the divorce to foreign authorities and reassurance that the certificate is valid.

The Hague Apostille Convention in 1961 introduced apostille stamps as a form of legalisation for different types of documents such as a decree absolute. If a country is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, a decree absolute which has been apostilled will be legally accepted in that country. Apostille certificates are accepted by over 120 member countries of the Hague Apostille Convention.  

If a country has not signed up to the Hague Apostille Convention, the decree absolute will need to be apostilled and then legalised by the Embassy of the country where it is going to be used. If you intend on remarrying abroad in a country that is not a member, you will need consular legalisation.

What Is a Decree Absolute?

To end your marriage you must apply for a final order or a decree absolute. A decree absolute is only necessary if your divorce application was issued before 6 April 2022

A decree absolute is a legal document that officially ends a marriage in the UK. It is issued by the court and concludes the divorce proceedings.

After a decree nisi has been obtained, you will need to wait at least 43 days (six weeks and one day) and should apply for a decree absolute within 12 months. It is important to apply for the document within this time frame to prevent court delays.

What Does a Decree Absolute Look Like?

A decree absolute document states the names of both parties, the court and the case number. It includes the date and location of when the marriage took place and that both parties are now legally separated.

How to Get a Copy of Your Decree Absolute

Obtaining a copy of your decree absolute in the UK depends on whether you know the court and case number:

If you know the court and case number:

  1. Contact the court directly: Write or email the court that issued the decree with your details (name, address), case number, and a request for a copy. Include the fee they require (usually around £10-£20).

If you don’t know the court or case number:

  1. Central Family Court search: Fill out form D440 (“Request for search for Divorce Decree Absolute”) and send it to the Central Family Court. The fee is £65 per 10 years searched. Be as accurate as possible with dates and names.
  2. Court search by date: If you know the approximate date of the decree, contact the court you think issued it. They can search a limited timeframe (usually 5 years on either side of your estimate) for a fee of £45.

Processing times can vary depending on the method you choose so make sure you start the process with plenty of time.


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