Apostille of Official Documents in the United States: A Step-by-Step Guide

Moving to a new country often requires a multitude of paperwork, and one of the most important aspects of this process is ensuring that your official documents are recognized by the foreign government. This is where the Apostille comes into play. This article will guide you through the process of obtaining an Apostille for your official documents in the United States.

What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is a certification that verifies that a document has been issued by a competent authority in one territory, allowing it to be legally recognized in any country that is a member of the Hague Convention. This means that a document with an Apostille can be used legally in any of these countries.

What Documents Can I Apostille?

You can Apostille any document issued by a public entity. This includes birth certificates, university degrees, marriage certificates, and more. However, these documents must be registered in the public records of the authorities to be legally recognized in other countries. When requesting an Apostille, you must ensure that the document:

  • Has been issued by a competent authority, and the name of the department must appear.
  • Contains the original signature of the issuing officer, along with their full name and public office. If the document was issued digitally, it must contain the electronic signature of the officer.
  • Includes the folio with which the certificate was registered within the institution’s books.
  • Contains the date it was issued.
  • If the document is in a language other than English, you must provide an official translation.

When Do I Need to Apostille My Documents?

You will need to Apostille your documents if you are carrying out a procedure abroad. This certification will only be useful in those countries that are part of the Hague Convention.

What is the Purpose of an Apostille?

By Apostilling your documents, they will be presumed to be legal in any country where you use them. When you submit a procedure abroad, you will not face obstacles in having the validity of your American-origin documents recognized.

What is the Procedure and Cost?

Embassies and consulates of the United States of America are not authorized to carry out the Apostille process. You will need to go to one of the following departments:

  • If the documents were issued by federal authorities, go to the Department of State.
  • If they are sentences or agreements issued by federal judges, you must request the procedure with the officials of the Federal Court.
  • If you want to Apostille a text that has been notarized or issued by administrative authorities, go to the Secretary of State.

Once you have selected the corresponding authority, you must attend their offices. It is recommended that you request an appointment to be attended. Present the original document to be Apostilled and your official identification. Attach the filled-out application with your details and submit it at the window. The price can vary. At the Department of State, to Apostille a document, you will need to pay a fee of 20 American dollars. You can request information about the costs at each of the departments mentioned above.

The process can take up to 7 days. You will be notified via email when your document is ready. You can track the procedure online with the folio provided to you.

How to Request an Apostille by Mail

If you are not in the USA, another way to request an Apostille is through the mail. Depending on the context, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the procedure may take longer. Here’s how to make the request:

  • Complete a DS-4194 application form for authentication services, specifying the country of use of the document.
  • Attach the documents that need to be Apostilled.
  • Pay the Apostille service fee of 20 dollars by

check or money order made out to the “U.S. Department of State.”

  • Include a prepaid envelope with the address to which the document should be delivered.

Send the envelope to the following address:

Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1206
Sterling, VA 20166-1206

Please note that FedEx services are not accepted for return mail. The application may take between 2 and 3 weeks to be processed from the date of delivery. The U.S. government advises using USPS tracking mail.

Conclusion

Are you ready to request the Apostille of your documents? The process in the U.S. will be straightforward. We hope you have resolved your doubts about this procedure and can simplify your procedures abroad with American-origin documents.

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