Frequently Asked Questions
I need to have a document authenticated but do not know whether I need an apostille or another form of authentication. How do I determine which method of authentication I need?
An apostille is issued if the document is going to a country that is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention. For a list of countries that accept the Apostille, please visit the official Web site of Hague Convention. For all non-party countries, a gold seal certification will be issued.
The country to which my document is going is not part of the Hague Convention. What additional steps do I need to take?
Certificates of authentication (known as legalization) must first be processed by the U.S. Department of State before being sent to countries that are not party to the Hague Convention. For information on what additional steps may need to be taken, visit the U.S. Department of State, Office of Authentication.
How long will it take to process my request for an Apostille or Certificate of Authentication?
Mailed requests for apostilles are processed in 2 to 3 days. Walk-in requests are processed while you wait and no appointment is necessary.
What is the fee for Apostilles & Authentications?
The fee is $5 for each apostille/authentication.
What types of payments are accepted?
When submitting documents by mail, please send a check or money order that must be issued by United States bank. Our office is unable to accept foreign checks/money orders. If submitting in person, you may also use cash.
Can you translate my marriage certificate to Spanish and then authenticate/apostille?
The Secretary of State does not translate documents. If it requires translation, you will need to have the translation notarized before our office can issue the apostille.
I have multiple signatures within a packet of documents that need authenticated. Can I just authenticate the entire packet of documents or must each signature be authenticated individually?
There are limited circumstances when a cluster of documents can receive a single apostille. It is best to contact our office prior to requesting an apostille to determine if a single apostille is appropriate.
I need to add a page to the document you already authenticated; can I remove the certificate, add the page, and reattach the authentication certificate?
No. Do not remove apostille or authentication certificates once they are attached (removal will invalidate the certificate).
I have an FBI background check that I need authenticated. Can you do that?
No. On FBI background checks, you must request the authentication at the time you submit your request for the background check. See their website, www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/cjis.htm, for criminal background checks and their Frequently Asked Questions page for further information. If there is a notarial certificate/affidavit attached to the copy of the background check that states it is a true and accurate copy, this office can attach an apostille to that certificate/affidavit only. You should check with the destination country of the document to ensure this method is adequate.
I have documents from Federal Courts and/or Federal Agencies. Can you authenticate those?
Certified documents from Federal Agencies should be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State. Federal court documents should be authenticated by the Federal Court in which it was issued.
I was born/married outside of the United States, how can I have my birth/marriage certificate authenticated?
If you were born to U.S. parents, contact The U.S. Dept. of State, Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, 1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705, (202) 955-0307, or visit their website for your birth certificate. Let them know you need that authenticated for use outside of the United States.
What steps need to be taken in order to have my school records authenticated?
The school records presented for authentication must be notarized. Notarization of original school records would require you to have the school official sign an affidavit in the presence of the notary public. Notarization of a photocopy of the original school record requires the owner of the original document signing an affidavit on the photocopy, in the presence of a notary public. Further, if a non-attorney notary completes the notarization, the clerk of courts in which the notary resides must certify the notary’s signature before an apostille can be attached.
Where can I go to obtain more information about Apostilles?
For more information on apostilles visit the Hague Convention website at www.hcch.net.
Also, try the U.S. Department of State, Authentications - A very informative site covering apostilles, certification of documents by the federal government, and links to passport and consular information.