General (6)

What does authentication mean?

When the Secretary of State authenticates ‘a document’, it is only validating that the notary public or department head is in fact a legitimate notary. The Secretary of State is not authenticating, confirming or authenticating the document itself. For example, they do not determine the status or legitimacy of a school, college, university, financial institution or any other record; the country to which the document is presented retains the right to accept or deny the actual information

What is the difference between an Apostille and a Foreign Certificate?

An Apostille is a type of authentication; it is the type used for those countries that are a part of The Hague Convention. Authentications issued for other countries are issued Foreign Certificates. Some authentications for any country may be “Department Head” certificates if they are those signed by a notary public.

What type of documents will Secretary of State authenticate?

The Secretary of State authenticates documents notarized by a notary or those certified by a Department Head (ex: Birth certificates, DC Public School Diplomas, MPD [DC] FL-20 clearances). The Secretary of State may authenticate copies of some foreign documents such as birth or marriage certificates and copies of a passport if they have been notarized by a notary.

Are there any documents that The Secretary of State cannot authenticate?

Yes. The Secretary of State cannot authenticate most federal documents (examples, FBI fingerprints and original passports) or any that have not been notarized by a notary public

Once my document is authenticated, are there any other steps I need to take?

If your country is a part of The Hague Convention, and we have put an Apostille on it, then the process is completed. If the country is not part of The Hague Convention, you will need to send the document to the US Authentications Office. Find more information on the US Authentications Office website

Do I have to be present to have a document authenticated?

No. Since The Secretary of State is only authenticating that the notary public is valid, not authenticating the actual document anyone may bring the document to the office or the document may be mailed to the office along with the proper amount of money, a pre-paid self-addressed return envelope, and the form on the website telling us the country for which the document is needed and your contact information.