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All you need to know about Apostille

Updated: Aug 4, 2022



What is an Apostille?


An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. In the United States, Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a federal agency or certified by an American or foreign consul. An apostille certifies the document(s), so the document can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.


When do I need an apostille?


You will need an Apostille if all of the following apply:

  • the country where the document was issued is a party to the Apostille Convention; and

  • the country in which the document is to be used is a party to the Apostille Convention; and

  • the law of the country where the document was issued considers it to be a public document; and

  • the country in which the document is to be used requires an Apostille in order to recognize it as a foreign public document.


An Apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued – Apostilles are strictly for the use of public documents abroad!


The best way is to ask the intended recipient of your document whether an Apostille is necessary in your particular case.


In which countries does the Apostille Convention apply?


Apostilles can only be issued if both the country where the public document was issued and the country where the public document is to be used are parties to the Convention. Here is a comprehensive and updated list of the countries where the Apostille Convention applies.


What do I do if either the country where my public document was issued or the country where I need to use my public document is not a party to the Apostille Convention?


If your public document was issued or is to be used in a country where the Apostille Convention does not apply, you should contact the Embassy or a Consulate of the country where you intend to use the document to complete the multi-step authentication or legalization.


What documents can be apostilled, and where do I get an apostille?


In the United States, the documents can be categorized into the following types, and there are different competent authorities that can issue apostilles for them.


Document notarized by a local notary, like notarized affidavits, agreements, powers of attorney, diplomas, and other documents. These documents can be apostilled by the secretary of state in the state where the documents were notarized.


Local and state documents, like birth certificates, marriage certificates, Death Certificates, Divorce Decrees, court judgements and orders. These documents can be apostilled by the Secretary of State from the state in which the documents were issued.


Federally-issued documents or documents notarized by a consular officer, like FBI Background checks, FDA Certificates, U.S. Federal court documents, etc. These documents can be apostilled by the U.S. Department of State.


What do I need to know before requesting an Apostille?


Before you get started to get an Apostille, you should consider questions such as:

  • Does the Apostille Convention apply in both the country that issued the public document and the country where I intend to use it?

  • Which authority is responsible for issuing an Apostille for my public document?

  • Can I get an Apostille for my public document?

  • If I have multiple documents, will I need multiple Apostilles?

  • Are there other documents (in addition to the public document) or additional information that I need to provide to get an Apostille?

  • How much does an Apostille cost?

  • How long will it take to get the Apostille?

Answers to all these questions vary and are based on your document type, be sure to check with us before you get started. If you don't want to spend a lot of time and energy getting into it, your best bet is to let a professional do it for you.


💁‍♂️ Order the service below for State and Local documents signed by a notary.


💁‍♂️ Order the service below for Federally-issued Documents.


Do all Apostilles have to look exactly the same?


No. An Annex to the Apostille Convention provides a Model Apostille Certificate. The apostille certificates are not exactly the same, but they should conform as closely as possible to this Model Certificate. In particular, an Apostille must:

  • be identified as an Apostille;

  • include the short version of the French title of the Convention (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961); and

  • include a box with the 10 numbered standard informational items.


Model Apostille Certificate

How are Apostilles affixed to public documents?


An Apostille must be placed directly on the public document itself or on a separate attached page. Apostilles may be affixed by various means, including rubber stamps, self-adhesive stickers, impressed seals, etc. The apostilles can be attached to the underlying public document by a variety of means, including glue, grommets, staples, ribbons, wax seals, etc.

Apostille Certificate from the U.S. Department of State

Apostille Certificate from the Utah

What are the effects of an Apostille?


An Apostille only certifies the origin of the public document to which it relates: it certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document and the capacity in which this was done. An Apostille does not certify the content of the public document to which it relates.


Once I have an Apostille, do I need anything else to show that the signature or seal on my public document is genuine?


No. An Apostille issued by the relevant Competent Authority is all that is required to establish that a signature or seal on a public document is genuine and to establish the capacity of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document.


If the recipient of my Apostille wants to verify my Apostille, what should I suggest?


Each Competent Authority is required to keep a register in which it records the date and number of every Apostille it issues, as well as information relating to the person or authority that signed or sealed the underlying public document.


Recipients may contact the Competent Authority identified on the Apostille and ask whether the information on the Apostille corresponds with the information in the register.


Can Apostilles be rejected in the country where they are to be used?


Apostilles issued in accordance with the requirements of the Convention must be recognized in the country where they are to be used.


Apostilles may only be rejected if and when:

  • their origin cannot be verified (i.e., if and when the particulars on the Apostille do not correspond with those in the register kept by the Competent Authority that allegedly issued the Apostille);

  • their formal elements differ radically from the Model Certificate annexed to the Convention;

  • your apostille certificate is perfect, but the recipient has other requirements for your document, such as your public document should be original, not a copy or translated version. From this point of view, they are not rejecting the apostille certificate but the form of your original document; or

  • one or both countries are not a party to the Apostille Convention.


 

American Notary Service Center Inc. provides fair, fast, confidential, and professional document notarization and certification services for our clients. We also provide various assistance services to small businesses led by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Our service helps small businesses obtain federal government contracts, gain a foothold in the market, and boost their sales. For more information, please visit our website at www.usnotarycenter.com, and contact us by calling 202-599-0777 or by email at info@usnotarycenter.com.

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