Apostille Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our How to Request an Apostille webpage for instructions on requesting an Apostille by mail or in person.

 1. What is an Apostille and what is its purpose?

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.

 2. Does the California Secretary of State issue an Apostille or Authentication Certificate?

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.

 3. I have a birth or death certificate issued in California. For which public officials’ signatures can the California Secretary of State issue an Apostille?

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 bears the signature of a Health Officer or county Registrar, prior to presenting to our office for authentication, one of the following will be required:

  • have that document certified by the county clerk’s office in the county in which it was issued, or
  • obtain a certified copy from the county clerk or recorder.

The signature, name, and title of the public official can be found at the bottom of a birth or death certificate.

 4. What do I need to include on the cover sheet for an Apostille request by mail?

Use our Apostille Mail Request Cover Sheet if you have access to a printer. If you prefer to write 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.

 5. Who can request an Apostille in person?

An Apostille can be requested by any individual. The individual presenting the document does not need to be related to a person named in the document. For instance, an Apostille for a child’s birth certificate can be requested by any family member or non-family member.

 6. What is the fee for an in-person Apostille request?

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:

Example Scenarios
Apostille Fee
Special Handling Fee
Total Fee
1 document, 1 public official
$20.00 x 1 Apostille
$6.00 x 1 public official's signature
$26.00
2 documents, 1 public official
$20.00 x 2 Apostilles
$6.00 x 1 public official's signature
$46.00
2 documents, 2 public officials
$20.00 x 2 Apostilles
$6.00 x 2 public officials' signatures
$52.00
5 documents, 1 public official
$20.00 x 5 Apostilles
$6.00 x 1 public official's signature
$106.00
5 documents, 5 public officials
$20.00 x 5 Apostilles
$6.00 x 5 public officials' signatures
$130.00

Please note: The $6.00 special handling fee applies to in-person requests only. The special handling fee does not apply to Apostille requests submitted by mail.

 7. My Apostille request is urgent, but I am not able to appear in person. What are my options?

If your Apostille request is urgent but neither you nor someone on your behalf is able to appear in person, you have two options:

  • 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 documents are processed in the order they are received. See mailing instructions by clicking on How to Request an Apostille by Mail on our Request an Apostille webpage.
  • Utilize a private service company. These companies can present the document in person on your behalf for an additional fee. Please note: The California Secretary of State's office does not endorse these service companies nor are they affiliated with the California Secretary of State's office.

 8. Can I get an Apostille for a territory within the United States, e.g. Puerto Rico?

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.

 9. Does the California Secretary of State provide notarial services?

No. If notarial services are needed, you should have the document notarized prior to submitting your Apostille request to the California Secretary of State.

10. Can the California Secretary of State issue an Apostille for a document in a language other than English?

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.

11. Does the California Secretary of State provide translation services?

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.

12. Where can I find out more information about Apostilles?

"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.

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If you still have any questions, please contact the California Secretary of State's office.