Essentially, an Apostille authenticates and verifies that the person who signs any public legal document (these include: birth certificates, marriage certificates, single status declarations, divorce decrees, death certificates, academic documents, etc.) as well as documents that are notarized with Jurat Notarizations (of which all of ours are notarized in this fashion) and the person who signed the document (county clerk, civil registrar or notary) is indeed the person working in the capacity of the position he or she signed the public legal document or notarized document (this can include a notarized translations).
This subject is a bit confusing and needs to be fully comprehended. Therefore, use this informational webpage to fully grasp the concept, the purpose, as well as the common confusion that often surrounds the need to obtain apostilles.
THE COMMON CONFUSION ISSUE: This is the first dilemma that comes up. Let’s say you need to take a U.S. issued document abroad for legal reasons to a foreign country. For example, you might be planning on getting married outside the U.S. You might be told or read that in order to get married in X city, you need to bring your birth certificate, a translation of it, and an apostille. This sounds simple and straight forward, but for what are you really being asked? Are you being asked to obtain an apostille for your English language certificate? Are you being asked to obtain an apostille of the document’s translation? Or, are you being asked that both the English language document and its translation into X language BOTH be apostilled?
Strangely, this information is rarely provided with any clarity. In most cases, it may be imperative to contact the requesting office (like a Civil Registry) and ask the person in-charge exactly which documents must be apostilled.
As a precaution, be sure to ask this local office where you are submitting everything if they accept translations done abroad. On occasion, they may require a local expert translator to perform the translation. If a local person does the translation and is certified to do so, you would not be required to have an apostille on the target language translation, just the source language certificate/document in English.
The two terms mean the same thing. Whether you obtain an Apostille from New York, California, Florida, Texas or even Mexico, the style and format is basically the same. Below you can see what to expect if you need to obtain an Apostille for your foreign document.
|Apostille Certificate issued in the United States||Apostille Certificate issued in Peru|
An apostille is a type of document or certificate. We’ll often refer to it as an “Apostille Certificate”. The apostille certificate is PHYSICALLY adhered to the document it is “apostilling”. Therefore, an apostille is not an independent document that stands on its own. This physical adhesion of an Apostille certificate cannot be used on any other document to which it does not pertain since it is: 1) intended for use on only the document it is apostilling; 2) it is either printed on the back-side of the document OR 3) It is stapled to the front side of the referenced document having a bent-in corner that is stamped and stapled. This means the apostille and the apostilled document have both parts of the overlapping stamp. This is a simple, but effective security feature making its authentic use on another document nearly impossible.
Let’s say you live in Phoenix, Arizona and have a birth certificate issued from California and you are going to the Dominican Republic. After you called the local Civil Registry (Registro Civil) in Santo Domingo near the locality where you intend on turning in these documents, they insist that both the original English language birth certificate (or other public legal document) and the translation of that birth certificate needs to be apostilled. Who issues which apostille?
How do you determine this? The answer is tricky but not always easy. Simply remember the function of an apostille: It is intended to authenticate that the signer of the public legal or academic document is indeed the person in-charge at the time of its signing. As for translations, it is a bit different. They are not authenticating the translator signing the translation, but rather they are authenticating the person who NOTARIZED the signature of the translator.
Therefore, in the above example, you would send the original English language document to the Secretary of State of California as they issued the original birth certificate. The translation would be sent to the Secretary of State of Arizona as all our notarizations are done in Arizona. This can be confusing sometimes to even the office of the Secretary of State. They’ll see a translation that resembles the style and format of a California birth certificate and may think it needs to be apostilled in California, but since it is translation that is in Arizona, they are confirming the identity of the Notary, not the translator or even authenticating the contents of the translation.
|Nebraska||Nevada||New Hampshire||New Jersey||New Mexico|
|New York||Wisconsin||North Carolina||North Dakota||Ohio|
|Oklahoma||Oregon||Pennsylvania||Puerto Rico||Rhode Island|
|South Carolina||South Dakota||Tennessee||Texas||Utah|
|Vermont||Virginia||Virgin Islands||Washington||West Virginia|
Each State has a Secretary of State’s office in the State Capital, and some have satellite branch offices in other cities. Each of these offices have a website and on each website, there are instructions on how to obtain the apostilles which usually consist of sending in the document to be apostilled, filling out a form they’ll provide to download, send these two items (original document and form) along with the payment amount they’ll indicate and a self-addressed stamped envelope to return back to you.
Some of these offices are open to the public and you can get them in-person if you are close to them, however, after Covid, many Secretary of States’ offices are closed to the public and only accept mailed-in requests. Many have re-opened, but others have not, or if they have, may require appointments. In any case, what was once a fast process can now take from 5-15 business days.
For this reason (Covid and the closing of our local secretary of state’s offices) we no longer offer the service of obtaining apostilles as a client can do it just as quick or nearly as quick without us charging them additional fees. Since it is all mostly done by mail now, you can do this yourself at a much more economical price.