What is an "Apostille" or "Authentication?"
- Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille." The apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.
- When a document is to be used in a foreign country, it may be necessary to authenticate the notarization or certification. Foreign countries often require documents to be authenticated before the documents will be accepted in the foreign jurisdiction. An "authentication" certifies the signature and the position of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of a document.
- The sole function of the apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature on the document; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document.
- For example an apostille issued by the New York State Secretary of State is a one page document embossed with the Great Seal of the State of New York. The apostille includes the facsimile signature of the individual issuing the certificate.
How do I obtain an Apostille or Authentication?
- Each country party to the Hague Convention designates an authority within its territory that can issue apostilles. For example, in the USA, it is the office of the state's secretary. In practice, you should contact a notary to get an apostille. Please note that some notaries may not be familiar with this procedure - they may propose you an ersatz that they are more familiar with. If it does not bear the term "APOSTILLE" in big, that's not it. Also, you don't have to explain why you need an apostille when dealing with your notary - just tell him what you need. Finally, please bear in mind that there are some countries that did not sign this treaty yet and thus no apostilles can be obtained.
- Education documents (transcripts, diplomas or certificates) must be obtained from an official of the school, college or university who must certify that the document is an official record or a true copy of the original document. The official's signature must be notarized by a notary public. The document must then be presented to the County Clerk's Office in the county where the notary public is qualified to certify the signature of the notary public. The document can then be presented to the Department of State for authentication.
- All other documents submitted to the Department of State for authentication must first be notarized and then have the notary's signature certified at the county clerk's office where the notary is qualified. The county clerk's office will affix its seal and signature to the document.
This is a Sample of what an Apostille Looks like
Please note: The document must show the word "Apostille" in the document