An Apostille Certificate dramatically simplifies the formalities associated with using public documents outside South-Africa
If an South-African public document is affixed or attached with an Apostille Certificate certifying its authenticity, it will be automatically accepted as genuine in countries participating in the Hague Convention.
An Apostille Certificate is inappropriate if the country where the public document is intended to be used is not a signatory to The Hague Convention.
For your South-African public document to operate in a non-participating country, it must be "legalised" or authenticated by the foreign country's diplomatic representative in South-Africa, which is often complex and expensive.
It is the signature, seal or stamp of a public official (such as a judge, notary public, or registrar) appearing on the face of an South-African public document that is authenticated.
An Apostille Certificate legalises an South-African public document by certifying its essential features (signature, seal or stamp), are authentic and genuine, and that it has been lawfully issued; it does not however, certify or prove its contents.
Apostilled public documents are accepted in all countries participating in the Hague Convention. Public documents legalised by a country's Embassy or Consulate are restricted in their use to the particular country which undertook the legalisation process in respect of those documents.