The word “apostille” is from the French language and simply means certifications. An Apostille from the Secretary of State is a special certificate authenticating a document to verify its legitimacy. This is necessary so it is accepted as authentic in countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention. All 50 states in the US, as well as the US Department of State, can issue one.

What Is the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention was organized in 1961 when several countries came together to form a simpler way to legalize documents so they could be recognized internationally. A document, referred to as an Apostille, was adopted, and the member countries all agreed to recognize them.

In October of 1981, the United States joined the Hague Convention and abolished the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents that had formerly in place. The Apostille from the Secretary of State includes notarizing documents that can now be used in the countries that are members of the convention. Documents used in other countries should first be certified by officials in the original jurisdiction where it was executed.

Items Included on an Apostille from the Secretary of State

Each Apostille has a unique number and a specific numbering system is used so they are sequentially numbered. There are 10 mandatory references on an Apostille from the Secretary of State:

  • Name of the country of origin

  • Name of the person signing the document

  • Title or capacity of the signee

  • Official seal or stamp of the authority certifying the document

  • Name of the person affixing the seal or stamp

  • Name of the city in which certification was granted

  • Date of certification

  • Issuing authority

  • Certificate number

  • Signature of the authority issuing certificates

If you need an Apostille from the Secretary of State, visit the USA Authentication website for more information.