Authentications: Apostille or Certification
News and Notices
Expansion of Authentication Services: The California Secretary of State's Los Angeles office has expanded its authentication
services to include the authentication of the signatures of California notaries public, in addition to county and state official's signatures.
Change to look of Apostille: To closely mirror The Hague Conference on Private International Law's model certificate, the Apostilles issued by the California Secretary of State have changed. (pdf ~54KB)
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 Certification.
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 authenticates signatures only on documents issued in the State of California signed by a notary public or the following public officials and their deputies:
- 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
- Authentication requests can be submitted by mail to our Sacramento office. The processing time is typically eight to ten business days from the date the request is received in the Sacramento office.
- When submitting a request for authentication by mail, please include the following items:
- The original notarized and/or certified document(s). A photocopy is not acceptable.
- A cover letter stating the country in which the document will be used.
- A check or money order for the authentication fee of $20 per authentication certificate made payable to Secretary of State and payable in U.S. dollars.
- A self-addressed envelope for the return mail. If you wish to use a mail tracking service, please provide a pre-paid air bill. If you do not use a
prepaid service, our office will mail your document(s) by U.S. Postal Service regular mail at no charge.
- Authentication requests can be presented in person to our Sacramento or Los Angeles office locations for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). A $20 fee for each authentication certificate and an additional $6 special handling fee for each different public official's signature to be authenticated is required. When presenting a request in person to either of our offices, no appointment is necessary. Customers are served on a "first come first serve" basis. Payments can be made by check, money order, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Cash is only accepted in person at the Sacramento office. Please refer to Contact Information for office addresses.
- An "ABCs of Apostilles" (pdf ~ 1.67 MB) brochure that provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and the Convention's operation has been prepared by the Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and is provided with the Permanent Bureau's permission. The Permanent Bureau hopes this brochure will assist the millions of users of the Apostille Convention around the world.