Apostille is a French word that means certification.
When legal or official documents from one country are to be used in a foreign country, it may sometimes be necessary to authenticate the
validity of the signatures on those documents.
"Authentication" is sometimes called "Verification", "Validation" or "Certification".
Government agencies in most countries require legal and official documents from a different country to be authenticated by a credible
agency in the foreign country before they will accept any documents as valid.
An Apostille is a government-issued document which is used for international validation.
An Apostille is like an international notary stamp.
An Apostille attached to a document legally verifies the signature and the position
of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of any document.
An Apostille is a document which bears the signature and, usually, the seal of an official state agency,
usually the Secretary of State.
An Apostille is attached (usually stapled) to a legal or official document.
An Apostille does not validate the contents of
An Apostille validates only the authenticity of the signature of the official who signed the
document, the capacity in which that official acted, and when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears.
Most, but not all, countries recognize an Apostille as a legal document.
In 1961 a number of countries got together and agreed to some conventions for conducting international business.
Representatives of the countries met in The Hague, Netherlands, and the agreements that were signed became known as the Hague
Convention of 1961.
Part of the Hague Convention has to do with easing the process of using valid documents from one country in another country.
Prior to 1981 the process of validating foreign documents could be cumbersome, expensive and slow.
Countries that signed the Hague Convention have agreed to recognize valid documents
issued by other signatory countries if those documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized
form of authentication known as an Apostille.
The Apostille ensures that documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized
as valid in another signatory country.
Which countries legally recognize Apostille?explain
The following countries have signed the Hague Convention and will accept a document with Apostille attached.
For countries not listed the will issue a which can be affixed to an official
or legal document in the same way in which Apostille is affixed to a document.
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
What if a country does not legally recognize an Apostille for a US document?explain
If a country does not legally recognize an Apostille for a US document then that country probably will accept a
Certificate of Authentication.
All states issue some kind of Certificate of Authorization in lieu of an Apostille.
The Apostille and Certificate of Authorization administrative processes are virtually the same.
First, the document must be notarized or certified.
If a document was issued by a local government agency, then it is probably certified.
The Secretary of State can take a certified, or notrrized, document and attach the Apostille.
You can then show the document to a foreign government and it should be accepted as legitimate.
If the document was not certified by a local government agency, it is still possible to get an Apostille.
First, you have to get the document notarized.
You can appear in person in a notary's office and testify that the document is true and correct, and the notary will
affix their seal.
The Secretary of State can then take the notarized document and attach the Apostille.
If you are in a foreign country and need a document notarized, it may still be possible.
You can ask the body that issued the document to send a new copy directly to the notary; that way the notary knows it's legitimate.
You may be able to get the Secretary of State to notarize the document and then attach the Apostille.
This can be a time-consuming and cumbersome bureaucratic process.
Processing times for getting an Apostille vary from state to state.
Some states take longer than others and some state offer expedited Apostille processing options.
Click on your state in the list below to find out how long it takes to get an Apostille in that state.
How can I get an Apostille from a specific state?
Click on any state in the list below to find out How to get an Apostille from that state