Visit our Request an Apostille webpage for instructions on requesting an Apostille by mail or via drop box.
An Apostille is a certificate that authenticates the signature of a public official on a document for use in another country. An Apostille certifies:
- the authenticity of the signature of the public official who signed the document,
- the capacity in which that public official acted, and
- when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears, e.g. a notary public seal.
The Apostille does not validate the contents of the document.
The California Secretary of State issues a single Apostille for documents to be used outside of the United States, regardless of the country of destination.
For birth and death certificates, the California Secretary of State can issue an Apostille for the signatures of:
- county clerks and their deputies,
- county recorders and their deputies, and
- the State Registrar (California Department of Public Health).
If your birth or death certificate was issued by a city- or county-level agency and has the signature of a Health Officer or County Registrar (e.g. Local Registrar, Registrar of Vital Records), prior to presenting to our office for authentication, one of the following may be required:
- have that birth or death certificate certified by the county clerk’s office in the county in which it was issued, or
- obtain a certified copy of that birth or death certificate from the county recorder or State of California Department of Public Health.
The signature, name, and title of the public official can be found at the bottom of a birth or death certificate.
Use our Apostille Mail Request Cover Sheet. If you prefer to create your own cover sheet, please include:
- the country in which the document will be used,
- return address, and
- name and contact information such as telephone number and email address.
Any individual can request an Apostille. When requesting an Apostille via drop box, no person(s) named in the document must be present. Additionally, the requester does not need to be related to any person(s) named in the document.
For example, Louise is Alfred's neighbor, and they are not related in any way. Alfred can remain at home while Louise takes Alfred's document to the Secretary of State's office and submits the request on Alfred's behalf.
There is a $20.00 fee for each Apostille requested, plus an additional $6.00 special handling fee for each different public official’s signature to be authenticated. Please see example scenarios below:
|1 document, 1 public official||
|2 documents, 1 public official||
|2 documents, 2 public officials||
|5 documents, 1 public official||
|5 documents, 5 public officials||
Please note: The $6.00 special handling fee applies to drop box requests for the Sacramento Office only. The special handling fee does not apply to Apostille requests submitted by mail.
Documents are processed in order by the date they are received in our office.
If your Apostille request is urgent but neither you nor someone on your behalf is able to appear in person, you may wish to mail your documents overnight via a service such as Fedex, UPS, or DHL and include a prepaid overnight label to return your documents after processing.
Please note, this does not expedite the processing of your documents once they are received in our office, however it does expedite the time it takes for your documents to arrive to our office and the time it takes to receive your documents once completed.
See mailing instructions by clicking on How to Request an Apostille by Mail on our Request an Apostille webpage.
No. Apostilles can only be issued for documents to be used outside the United States of America. Accordingly, we do not issue Apostilles for Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or any other American territories or possessions. Generally, the notarial act is sufficient for use in any American territory or possession.
No. If notarial services are needed, you should have the document notarized prior to submitting your Apostille request to the California Secretary of State.
Yes. If the notarization of the document is in English, the California Secretary of State can issue an Apostille. The rest of the document can be in any other language.
No. If a certified translation is required, you may wish to consult the American Translators Association.
If the notarization of the document is in English, the California Secretary of State can issue an Apostille. The rest of the document can be in any other language.
"The ABCs of Apostilles" (PDF) brochure provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and the Convention's operation that 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.
If you still have any questions, please contact the California Secretary of State's office.