How CYB is helping transform the legal profession with e-Apostille
Caution Your Blast Ltd (CYB) is proud to announce, having worked closely in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the UK Legalisation Office and the Notaries Society of England and Wales, the launch of a milestone service for the legal industry and the UK Government.
The e-Apostille (e-APP) service enables documents to be legalised digitally for the very first time in the UK. After a pilot initiative that began on 15th December 2021, the service was launched this month, marking a significant change in moving from a paper-based process to a digital service.
CYB has helped find a solution to the FCDO’s long-standing ambition to offer a digital Apostille service, continuing our work in leading the digital transformation of UK industry and making good our aim of using digital as a force for good.
What is e-Apostille?
e-APP is an electronic certificate that legalises documents for use overseas. Legalised documents are required for many international transactions, such as obtaining work visas and buying property.
Before e-APP, this process was always completed on paper, with all the associated courier, post, admin and efficiency costs. Physical documents would be posted to the Legalisation Office for validation, who would then send the documents back with a paper certificate attached – this is known as an Apostille, which officially legalises a document for use overseas.
With the e-APP service, applicants will be able to use the digital service to securely upload their documents rather than post them, with documents signed by a UK notary or solicitor using either an Advanced Electronic Signature or a Qualified Electronic Signature (the highest level of security and validation).
Customers are then sent their documents back electronically. Both the documents and the e-APP are attached to a PDF, which is signed by the Legalisation Office for integrity.
The benefits of e-Apostille
e-APP has clear benefits for all parties, from people who need documents legalising to the notaries whose job it is to sign and legalise documents:
The end-to-end process is made significantly easier for notaries, the legalisation office and the general public
A cheaper service for everyone is ensured by removing courier and postage costs
A quicker and more efficient service is ensured by removing manual admin for the legalisation office and notaries
A higher level of validation for individuals, with verified identity virtually eliminating the chances of fraud
Record keeping for notaries is made simpler
Enhanced security of documents, helping with international trade and commerce
It encourages other government departments to standardise the use of electronically signed documents, furthering digital transformation
The transition from paper to digital is good for the environmentally
At present, between 500,000 and 600,000 documents are legalised every year in the UK, around half of which are signed by notaries – a significant number of people that are now having their lives made easier thanks to the work done by CYB. UK e-Apostilles have so far been approved in Italy, the Netherlands, Panama and the Philippines. But with over 100 countries signed up to the Hague Convention obliged to accept the document, there is huge scope for e-Apostilles to be used extensively throughout the world in the near future.
Praise for e-Apostille
e-APP is already having a significant impact within government. The Industry Working Group on Electronic Execution of Documents, set up by the Ministry of Justice, recently produced an interim report that praised e-APP. The report started: “The advent of the e-Apostille (e-APP for short) has added a tremendous boost to the initiative to enable the use and circulation of electronic Notarial acts” (pg.47).
The report recommended that the UK Government do everything in the coming years to encourage and increase the uptake of electronic signatures across all government departments and sectors of everyday life. At CYB, we are delighted that our work on the e-Apostille service is leading that culture change, and that we are at the forefront of the digital transformation across the UK Government and industry as a whole.
Chris Ward, Head of Public-facing Services, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said:
‘I’ve worked with the CYB team for the last 18 months developing the FCDO’s digital legalisation service. They have a broad range of expertise which enabled them to deliver such a niche service, working exceptionally hard to understand the existing service from the ground up. CYB were easy to work with and challenged our thinking about the product we needed with the end result being a user-centric product that could easily be developed incrementally in the future”.
Michael Lightowler, Notary Public and Member of the Notaries Society of England and Wales said:
“It is easier now, the process is straightforward and efficient. It’s the speed of turnaround that is really helpful in terms of processing the document and getting the e-Apostille - it’s a lot, lot quicker. There’s no paper, post or couriers which reduces cost for customers. Record keeping is simpler as you can save a file without scanning it. It’s quicker and more convenient. It’s a big step for us. And CYB have been friendly, courteous, helpful, knowledgeable and diplomatic throughout”.
Jonathan Hewitt, Solicitor and Notary Public, said:
“CYB took the time to really understand what it was we were doing and to make sure the FCDO knew it was worth it for us. We got what we needed out of the system, as originally what was thought about wasn’t going to work. It’s been a good experience, CYB has been very receptive to ideas. To have somebody who wanted to listen to us for once was actually quite nice”.
Caution Your Blast is looking for passionate developers, user researchers and designers to join its team at an incredibly exciting time for the company. If you think our organisation and the role matches your skills, experience, and interests, send your CV along with a few paragraphs outlining why you’d like to take on the role to firstname.lastname@example.org.