An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the signature of a public official on a document for use in another country. An Apostille certifies:
- the authenticity of the signature of the public official who signed the document,
- the capacity in which that public official acted, and
- when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears, e.g. a notary public seal.
The Apostille does not validate the contents of the document.
Apostilles can only be issued for documents to be used outside the United States of America. Accordingly, we do not issue Apostilles for Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or any other American territories or possessions. Generally, the notarial act is sufficient for use in any American territory or possession.
If a certified translation is required, you may wish to consult the Professional Translator.
If the notarization of the document is in English, the California Secretary of State can issue an Apostille. The rest of the document can be in any other language.
What is an Apostille and when do I need one?
An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, a judgment, an extract of a register or a notarial attestation). The Model Apostille Certificate is reproduced at the beginning of this brochure. Apostilles can only be issued for documents issued in one country party to the Apostille Convention and that are to be used in another country which is also a party to the Convention.
You will need an Apostille if all of the following apply:
- the country where the document was issued is party to the Apostille Convention; and the country in which the document is to be used is 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 recognise 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!
An Apostille may not be required if the laws, regulations, or practice in force in the country where the public document is to be used have abolished or simplified the requirement of an Apostille, or have exempted the document from any legalization requirement. Such simplification or exemption may also result from a treaty or other agreement that is in force between the country where the public document is to be used and the country that issued it (e.g., some other Hague Conventions exempt documents from legalisation or any analogous formality, including an
Apostille). If you have any doubts, you should ask the intended recipient of your document whether an Apostille is necessary in your particular case.