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The following message has been issued by the FCO today (3 April)

Dear colleagues

The FCO is very grateful for your patience whilst we worked to reopen part of the Legalisation service, and for the feedback you have provided us with on your priorities and needs.

We have been authorised to re-open the business drop-off counter in Milton Keynes from Tuesday 7 April for existing customers of the service, subject to the following restrictions:

  • Customers will initially be limited to approximately 50% of their average daily volume when the service resumes to enable us to manage the resulting flood of applications. Registered users of the business counter will receive an email direct from the team informing them of their daily allowance. This limit will be kept under regular review, and as soon as we are able to increase the daily number of documents submitted we will let customers know.
  • We rely on customers of the counter to plan their applications accordingly, prioritising their backlog so that those with the most urgent need are submitted first.
  • The counter will initially be open for four days a week (Monday to Thursday) to enable us catch up on any backlogs which develop during the week and to ensure that we can continue to support urgent legalisations. This too will be reviewed regularly, and increased back to five-day opening as soon as we can.
  • We will not, for the moment, be increasing the number of registered users of the counter. This is to keep the number of customers arriving at our offices each day as low as possible in line with government guidance about minimising unnecessary travel. Any customers who wish to submit an application should do so through one of the existing agents registered with the service. Agents can be found by searching online for ‘UK Legalisation services’ or ‘UK Apostille services’, but please ensure that they are registered with the Legalisation Office as a business customer. Again, we will keep this under review in the light of any changes to government guidance on essential movements of people.
  • The urgent legalisations mailbox will remain open for any customers with very urgent requirements, especially those with one-off needs which might be less suitable for handling through an agent. Customers should continue to contact urgentlegalisation@fco.gov.uk to arrange this; we will not be able to accept any urgent documents which have not been initiated through this route.
  • Business drop-off customers attending the counter in Milton Keynes MUST:
    • Ensure that individuals attending the counter are fit and well
    • Ensure that all instructions about social distancing, queuing distances, hand hygiene and any directions given to them whilst they are on our premises are followed
    • Ensure that applications handed over the counter are securely wrapped in a clean plastic outer cover or box which can be wiped down by our staff, and that the papers within them have been handled by as few individuals as possible in a cleaned environment.
    • Respect the daily limits applied to them; any applications in excess of this will be returned without being processed.

I would be grateful if you could pass this on to your colleagues. The website will be open for business counter users to submit applications from today, and any customers with questions should contact your.businessapplication@fco.gov.uk and we will do our best to help.