What is an Apostille?
Simply put, it means that the Secretary of State has authenticated the signature of the signing authority of a public document, and then added a Certificate (which has an official red stamp) for that document’s use outside the USA. Note that an Authentication Certificate (Apostille) only certifies 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. The Authentication Certificate does not validate the other contents of the document.
What does an Apostille look like?
In California, the Apostille will be in the form of a Certificate, with a red stamp on it. This certificate is then firmly attached to the related document. Other states’ Apostilles may look different; all must contain the 10 pieces of information according to the Hague Convention’s Model Apostille Certificate, but may include additional information, such as the website link to California’s e-register for verification by destination countries.
Whose signatures can be certified by the California Secretary of State for issuing Apostilles?
The following public officials, and their deputies:
- Notaries Public
- County Clerks or Recorders
- Court Administrators of the Superior Court
- Executive Clerks of the Superior Court
- Officers whose authority is not limited to any particular county
- Executive Officers of the Superior Court
- Judges of the Superior Court
- State Officials
What kind of documents typically get an Apostille?
Millions of documents each year get Apostilles. All are ‘Public’ documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, divorce and other court judgements, patents, adoptions, university and other academic diplomas and records, and much more.
Do Apostilles work in every country outside the USA?
No. Only countries that are party to the Hague Conference’s Apostille Convention.
What about the countries that are NOT party to the Hague Conference’s Apostille Convention?
You need to contact the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you intend to use the document in order to find out what your options are.
What’s the effect of an Apostille?
It only certifies the origin country of the public document to which it relates, and it certifies the authenticity of the signature (and/or seal) and capacity of the person who signed the document. An Apostille does not certify the content of the document.
How can the recipient of your Apostilled document verify the Apostille itself?
Your recipient may contact the California Secretary of State to have them check that the number assigned to your Apostille matches the CA SOS register. They may even check for themselves on California’s online Electronic Register.
What’s the process of getting an Apostille (from KMS)?
- You take a photo of all document pages (with your phone) and text or email to KMS (925-858-6220 / email@example.com) – Tell me the destination country. Note that “one” document can be more than one page.
- If the documents you need authenticated need to be notarized, and have not been notarized yet, KMS can notarize your document(s) for you. KMS reserves the right to bill for notarization as an additional fee.
- Then we either meet to collect, or ship the original document(s) needing Apostilles to KMS (address for shipping to be provided at time of order). You’ll tell me which Apostille service you need. If you ship the documents, use a service with tracking method. Originals only, no photocopies!
- KMS will drive to Sacramento and get your documents authenticated at the California Secretary of State’s office.
- KMS will ship (or hand back) your processed documents. I can send you photo confirmation if you need me to ship the documents to another entity.
Can you get your own apostille? Of course, but do you know where to start? Where to go? Which documents are eligible? Do you want to spend your time in the car in traffic, or waiting in line at the SOS office? If your document is important enough to need an Apostille, do it correctly the first time!
What if your document originated in a state other than California?
KMS can help with that too – we can handle getting your document(s) authenticated by any state in the U.S.A.
What if you need translation services?
KMS can refer you. Tell us what language and what type of document.