Documents you will submit to My U.S Authentication Services.
Notarized documents – Tell us in which country each document will be used. If a document needs to be legalized for more than one country, you must submit a separate notarized original of the document for each country.
Documents already certified by the Secretary of State of the state where the document was executed (notarized). Tell us in which country each document will be used.
We will obtain the U.S. State Department authentication and/or embassy legalization.
Note: Documents which are certified under the official seal of a Federal agency do not need to be notarized and certified by the Secretary of State. Tell us in which country it will be used and we will obtain the U.S. State Department authentication or apostille certification and embassy legalization.
Facts on Document Authentication and Legalization
Documents issued in one country to be used in another country must be “authenticated” and/or “legalized” before they can be recognized as valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals and signatures are placed on the document.
The number and type of authentication certificates you will need to obtain depends on the nature of the document and whether or not the foreign country is a party to the multilateral treaty on “legalization” of documents.
If your document is intended for use in a country which is a party to a treaty called the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (“Hague Legalization Convention”), obtaining a special “apostille” certificate is generally all that is required. Click HERE for list of countries that have joined “The Hague Convention.”
If the country where the document will be used is not a party to The Hague Convention, you will have to begin the cumbersome, time-consuming process of obtaining a series of certifications known as the “chain authentication method”. This is literally a paper chase in which authorities will have to attest to the validity of a succession of seals beginning with your document and ending with the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States.
The following conditions must be met for all documents requiring authentication:
- All seals and signatures must be originals.
- All dates must follow in chronological order on all certifications.
- All documents in foreign text must be accompanied with a certified (notarized) English translation.
- Whenever a copy (if acceptable) is used, it must include a statement that it is a true and accurate copy.
- Foreign governments require the U.S. Department of State to authenticate documents in order for the documents to be considered legal.
Requirements for authentication: (signed before a notary public)
- Certified by the Clerk of Court of the county in which the notary is commissioned*; and
- Certified by the Secretary of State of the state in which the document is executed.
* Not necessary if the authority in item 5c will certify directly to the notary.
STATE AND LOCAL DOCUMENTS
- Certified originals
- Certified by the Secretary of State of the state in which the documents are recorded. The Secretary of State should be requested to certify to the officials signing the document under the impressed Seal of the State.
FEDERAL AGENCY DOCUMENTS
Certified under the official seal of a Federal agency
ANIMAL HEALTH CERTIFICATES
Must be certified under the official Seal of the United Sates Department of Agriculture in the state in which the document originates.
If your document is to be used in one of the countries on “The Hague Convention” list, it should be:
- Certified by the Clerk of Court of the county
- Certified with the Apostille by the Secretary of State of the state in which the document is being executed.
After the above steps have been fulfilled, the document requires no authentication by the U.S. Department of State. It is ready to go directly to the country of use.
Documents requiring certification with the Apostille by the U.S. Department of State are the ones which have been executed under a Federal agency seal or certified by an American or foreign consul.