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Old 05-26-09, 11:25 PM   #1
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Default Apostille Authentication for US Documents

What is an Apostille and How Do I Get One?

There are many types of legal transactions in Mexico that will require certified or notarized copies of documents from back home. Especially when dealing with immigration or the court system. For that document to be accepted in Mexico you will often need to have it authenticated with an Apostille stamp.

What is an "Apostille"?
Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille". The Apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country.

The sole function of the Apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature on the document; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document.

An Apostille issued by the Secretary of State is a one page document embossed with the Great Seal of a State. The Apostille includes the facsimile signature of the individual issuing the certificate.

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. Mexico will ask for an Apostille.

The most common types of documents submitted for authentication include:

Marriage Licenses
References and Job Certification
Birth Certificates
Patent Applications
School Records
Corporate Documents
Powers of Attorney
Certificates of Non-Marital Status

The California Secretary of State can only authenticate documents issued in the State of California by the following public officials and their deputies:

County Clerks
County Recorders
Judges of the Superior Court
Court Administrators
Executive Officers
Executive Clerks
State Officials
Notaries Public

Any document that has been executed by County Health Officers and County Local Registrars can only be authenticated if the document is first certified by the county clerk's office. The only public officials our office can authenticate are the ones listed above.

These documents must be current certified copies or must have been notarized by a California Notary Public. For school records you must obtain a notarized copy of record from the high school, college, or university, etc. prior to forwarding to the Notary Public Section for authentication.

Any document requiring Authentication of a public official’s signature, may be mailed (include a cover letter listing the country of destination and a self-addressed stamped envelope), or hand delivered, to the Sacramento Main Office of the Secretary of State for processing. Additionally, documents requiring Authentication of a public official’s signature, but not including notaries public, may be hand delivered for over-the-counter service to any of the Secretary of State regional offices. Office locations are as follows:


Notary Public Section
1500 11th Street 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

mailing address:

Notary Public Section
Post Office Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001

Counter hours: 8:00 - 4:30
Monday - Friday
Approximate processing time:
- via mail 10 - 15 workings days**
- over the counter 10 - 30 minutes, dependent on the number of counter customers

**Authentication requests are processed as quickly as possible. However, processing time may be longer than the stated 10-15 working days, dependent on the volume of pending requests. Please submit documents as soon as possible to allow ample time for completion.


Over-the-counter service to any of the Secretary of State's regional offices. The Secretary of State's regional offices can only authenticate a notary public's signature if the document is first certified by the county clerk's office. To do this, follow the procedures below:

1) Take the document that has been notarized by a California notary public to the county clerk's office in the county as indicated on the notary public's stamp.

2) The county clerk will then certify to the notary's signature and place a county certification on the document.

3) Take the document to one of the Secretary of State's regional offices listed below for over-the-counter services:

1315 Van Ness Ave. Suite 203
Fresno, California
(559) 445-6900

Los Angeles
300 South Spring Street, Suite 12513
Los Angeles, California
(213) 897-3062

San Diego
1350 Front Street, Suite 2060
San Diego, California
(619) 525-4113

San Francisco
Two Rincon Center
121 Spear Street, Suite 420
San Francisco, California
(415) 904-2344

Please Note
Having a document certified at the county level is only required for authentication at one of the regional offices. The Secretary of State's Main office located in Sacramento can authenticate documents notarized by a California notary public without being certified at the county level.

*Please call the individual regional office for Authentication processing hours and approximate wait time.

Authentication (Apostille or Certification), per document

In addition to the Authentication fee, the following fee is applicable to documents hand delivered to the Sacramento Main Office for over-the-counter expedited processing or delivered for processing at any regional office.
$6.00 Special Handling Fee, per public official, per transaction

Please make all checks payable to the Secretary of State since cash or credit cards will not be accepted through the mail.

Fees collected at the Sacramento main office counter may be made by check, money order, cash or credit card (Visa or Mastercard).

Fees collected at the regional office locations are as follows:

Checks, money orders, cash or credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) are accepted at the San Francisco regional office.

Only checks, money orders and credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) will be accepted at the Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego regional offices. Cash will not be accepted at these locations
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Old 01-25-11, 07:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Apostille Authentication for US Documents

This is a rather old post, but just to update, most of the state offices are closed. The quickest way to get an apostille in California by mail is through

Apostille, Attestation, Authentication

The apostille is done when they receive the docs.

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