Apostille or Certification
The California Secretary
of State provides authentication of public official signatures on
documents to be used outside the United States of America. The country
of destination determines whether the authentication is an Apostille or
Apostilles and certifications only certify to 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 apostille or certification does not validate
the contents of the document.
- The California Secretary of State can only
authenticate signatures on documents issued in the State of California
signed by the following public officials and their deputies:
|County Clerks or Recorders||
|Judges of the Superior Court|
|Officers whose authority is not limited to any particular county||
- Some examples of documents submitted for signature authentication are:
|Papers for adoption purposes|
|Certificates of Non-Marital Status||
|Powers of Attorney|
|Corporate documents such as articles, mergers, amendments, etc.||
|School records such as diplomas, transcripts, letters relating to degrees, etc.|
|Deeds of Assignment||
|References and Job Certification|
submitted to the Secretary of State for signature authentication must
be currently certified by the appropriate public official or must be
notarized by a California Notary Public.
requiring authentication of any school records (e.g., college
transcripts) must obtain a notarized copy of the record from the high
school, university, etc., before submitting the documents for
Any document executed by County Health Officers and County Local Registrars can be authenticated only if the document is first certified by the county clerk/recorder.
Secretary of State’s four regional offices (Fresno, Los Angeles,
San Diego and San Francisco) can only authenticate a California notary
public’s signature if the county clerk/recorder (on the
notary public’s stamp) first authenticates the signature. The
customer must take the document with the notarized signature to the
county clerk/recorder for certification and then submit the certified
document to one of the four regional offices for authentication. Having
a document certified at the county level is only required for
authentication at our regional offices. The Secretary of State’s
Sacramento office can authenticate a California notary public signature
on a document without the notary public’s signature being certified at
the county level.
- To avoid delays
that may result from out-of-date documents, a document certified by a
county official (e.g. county clerk) should have a certification date
within the last five years or a new certified copy should be obtained
from the appropriate county official.
- The customer must
identify the country of destination when the documents are submitted to
the Secretary of State. If documents are submitted by mail to the
Sacramento office, a letter identifying the country of destination must
accompany the documents. To facilitate the processing of documents
submitted by mail, please include a self-addressed envelope.
- Documents can be
hand delivered to any office location for over-the-counter processing
between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday
(excluding holidays) or mailed to the Sacramento office. Regional
offices do not process mailed in documents. Office locations are as
Sacramento Office Street Address: Mailing Address: Notary Public Section
1500 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Notary Public Section
Post Office Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Regional Offices Fresno: Los Angeles: 1315 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 203
Fresno, CA 93721
300 South Spring Street, Room 12513
Los Angeles, CA 90013
San Diego: San Francisco: 1350 Front Street, Suite 2060
San Diego, CA 92101
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14500
San Francisco, CA 94102-7007
- When submitting documents to any of our offices for
over-the-counter processing, no appointment is necessary. Customers are
served on a “first come first serve” basis.
- Documents submitted for over-the-counter processing are
normally processed within an hour. The average processing time for
documents submitted by mail is approximately two weeks.
- There is a $20.00 processing fee (per signature
authenticated) and a $6.00 special handling fee (per public official
for documents submitted over the counter). Payments for documents
by mail to Sacramento can be made by check or money order.- over-the-counter in Sacramento can be made by check, money order, cash, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard).- over-the-counter
in any of the four regional offices can be made by check, money order,
or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Regional offices are not able to
Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Secretary of State.
In 1961 many nations joined together to create a simplified
method of “legalizing” documents for universal recognition in each
other’s countries. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague
Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign
Public Documents (33 U.S.T 883), adopted a document referred to as an
Apostille that would be recognized by all member nations.
Documents sent to member nations, completed with an Apostille at the state level, may be submitted directly to the member nation without further action.
Documents sent to non-member nations requiring a Certification of the signature of the state’s public official at the state level, then must be transmitted to the Authentication Office of the Department of State in Washington, D.C. for the Authentication of the State Official’s signature.