Authenticate an official document for use outside the U.S.
Apostilles and authentication certificates are both ways of certifying that U.S. documents are genuine and can be legally recognized in another country. Learn when to use each.
An apostille or an authentication certificate verifies signatures, stamps, or seals on important documents. These documents can include court orders, contracts, vital records, educational diplomas, and more.
The country you will use the document in determines whether you will need an apostille or an authentication certificate.
When you need an apostille
If the country where you want to use your document is on the 1961 Hague Convention member list, you will need an apostille.
- Documents such as vital records issued by a U.S. state will need an apostille from that state's secretary of state.
- Federal documents will need an apostille from the U.S. Department of State.
When you need an authentication certificate
If the country where you want to use your document is not on the 1961 Hague Convention member list, you will need an authentication certificate.
Learn about authentication certificates, including:
- Types of state and federal documents requiring authentication
- The process of getting an authentication certificate
- Checking the status of your document
LAST UPDATED: July 27, 2023