Managing Property Transactions Across Borders

In real estate transactions, it’s not uncommon for parties to the sale of immovable property to find themselves outside of South Africa during critical stages of the process. This article delves into scenarios where one or both parties are absent from South Africa when required to sign transfer documents by the Conveyancing Attorney.

Authentication of Documents Signed Abroad

Documents signed outside South Africa must be properly authenticated before being considered valid for use in property transactions within the country. Merely signing them in another country and couriering them back isn’t sufficient; specific formalities must be adhered to.

Rule 63 of the Uniform Rules of the High Court

Rule 63 outlines procedures for authenticating documents executed outside South Africa. Authentication involves the signature and official seal of authorized individuals, including South African diplomatic or consular mission heads, designated officials, or notary publics of certain countries.

Hague Convention Stipulations

Under the Hague Convention, documents from member countries can be authenticated with an Apostille, simplifying the process. This certification verifies the authenticity of the signature and is issued by a competent authority of the document’s originating state.

Handling Absentee Signatories

When parties cannot be present in South Africa during the transfer process, several options are available to ensure legal compliance.

Special Power of Attorney

Granting a trusted individual the authority to sign documents on behalf of absent parties via a Special Power of Attorney is a viable solution. This document should be signed before departing South Africa and must be in the original wet ink format.

Considerations and Consultation

Deeds office requirements may dictate specific information and formats for Special Powers of Attorney. Consulting with a conveyancer well in advance of departure is crucial to ensure compliance and smooth execution of the legal document.


Navigating property transactions involving absentee signatories demands meticulous attention to legal procedures and requirements. Whether utilizing Rule 63 authentication or adhering to Hague Convention stipulations, it’s essential to plan ahead and seek professional guidance to safeguard the integrity and legality of the transaction. By understanding and adhering to these protocols, parties can ensure a seamless process even across international borders.

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