Documents originating in the United States (whether notarized by a US notary or produced by a US governmental agency) must typically be certified before being used in foreign countries. That certification process is dictated by Convention 12 of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which abolishes the need to legalize documents between those countries which are part of that Convention. Because not every country is party to Convention 12, the process of certifying documents for use in every country is complicated and the terminology may be confusing.
Fortunately, the experienced staff at Capitol Services is well-versed in the intricacies of certifying documents for use in foreign countries and is available to assist you.
Essentially, documents are certified at each level of government as required for use in a particular country. For example, an Assumed Name Certificate filed with a county clerk is certified by that office; the county clerk’s certification is then certified by its Secretary of State; the Secretary of State’s certification is then certified by the US State Department; and finally, this endlessly certified document is presented to the foreign country’s embassy or consulate for its certification.
These are some of the more commonly used terms involved in the process:
Apostille refers to a certification authorized by the Hague Convention which allows a government office (for example, the Texas Secretary of State) to recognize a document for use in a foreign country without certification from either the US State Department or the country’s embassy or consulate. This option is only available to countries which are part of Convention 12 of the Hague Conference.
Authentication is the process by which the US State Department certifies the signature or seal of another US government agency (for example, the Delaware Secretary of State) on a document for use in a foreign country.
Legalization is the certification of the signature or seal of a US government agency by a foreign embassy or consulate on a document for use in a foreign country.
Capitol Services can handle every step of the apostille, authentication, and legalization processes. From obtaining notary certificates at state or county level, to authentication at state and federal agencies, to apostille or legalization at foreign embassies and consulates, we can help.
Call us today at 800-345-4647.