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APOSTILLE (pronounced APO – STEEL)


The apostille proves that a public document is authentic. The apostille certificate certifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted and identifies the seal or stamp on a public document to be genuine so that it will be accepted when presented in another country. Only documents issued by public authorities or public officials can obtain an apostille.

A notarial signing is the process of verifying and witnessing a document being signed. The notarized document will usually be used in the United States. The apostille is a certificate issued by a Secretary of State of the issuing state that authenticates the document to be recognized in 156 foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.  Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the Convention.

For example, the Secretary of State of Texas may issue an apostille on documents issued by persons on file with this agency, including county clerks, notaries public, and statewide officials.

If a document is authenticated with an apostille, it will be recognized and will not need further certification as long as the foreign country requesting the document has joined the Hague Convention.

The Maryland SOS website summarizes it best, “Apostilles do not certify the content of the public document to which it relates. They do not grant authority and they do not give any additional weight to the content of the underlying documents. An apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued.”


Examples for when an Apostille is needed:

  • People going to work in another country
  • People getting married in another country
  • People adopting children from another country
  • People giving a Power of Attorney to someone in another country
  • People establishing a business in another country
  • Background checks

A recordable document is when the recording authority (clerk of the county court, for example) is authorized to record, usually by state statute. If you need any of the following documents to be sent overseas, they must be certified by the Secretary of State as “true copies.” Recordable documents may not be certified by a notary public.

  • birth certificates,
  • marriage licenses,
  • death certificates,
  • divorce decrees,
  • school transcripts
  • diplomas
  • court orders, or
  • documents issued by a federal agency or certified by an American or foreign consul.


Click here to access the Apostille Section and the “ABCs of Apostilles”.