Legalizations FAQs

What is Document Legalization?

In order for a document from the United States to be used in another country, the document must be authenticated or “legalized”. This is done by having the document notarized and then having official seals from US government bodies as well as the Consulate or Embassy of the destination country placed on the document so that they can be recognized as a legal document outside the US. The procedures can vary, depending on the country where the document will be used.

Do I need to notarize the document?

All documents must be notarized by a notary public in order to be authenticated and legalized, or to receive apostille – except official, certified government issued documents.

How do I notarize a document?

Specific procedures may vary, but typically the document can be taken to a notary public (often available at banks, law offices, etc.). The notary will require valid ID, and will witness the document being signed. The notary public attests to the signature and places their seal on the document.

What is Notary Certification?

This is when the County Clerk of Court at the courthouse puts their seal on a document to authenticate that the document has been witnessed by a valid notary registered in their county. This can be done at the courthouse, after the document is notarized.

Do I need Notary Certification from the local Clerk of Court?

Documents that have been notarized for legalization must be taken to the local courthouse in the same county as the notary public for notary certification; this proves that this notary is authorized to endorse this document in the state where the document originates.

What documents should be submitted to the State Secretary of State?

Documents other than US Federal Government documents must be submitted for authentication by the State Secretary of State.

  • For apostille certificate to use documents in Hague Convention member countries, the document must be submitted to the State Secretary of State.
  • For legalization of documents to use in countries that are not part of the Hague Legalization Convention, the document must be submitted to the State Secretary of State. After the State Secretary of State has placed a seal on the document, it can then be sent to Travisa to process with the US Department of State and the Embassy of the destination country.
  • US federal government documents, for example, documents issued from the FDA, USDA, USPTO, EPA, or US Department of State, do not need a seal from the State Secretary of State. In this case, the documents can be sent directly to Travisa to process the document legalization.

What is State Secretary of State Authentication?

Documents issued by a US court or government agency can be submitted directly to the State Secretary of State for authentication. Other types of documents must first be notarized and certified with the county clerk of court’s seal, before sending the documents to the Secretary of State. If the document will be used in a country that is a member of the Hague Convention, the Secretary of State will issue an apostille. If the destination country is not a member of the Hague Legalization Convention, the Secretary of State will issue a seal authenticating the document, so that the document can be legalized.

Documents need either apostille from the State Secretary of State to be used in a Hague Convention member country, or they need a seal from the State Secretary of State in order to be legalized by the US Department of State and the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country. Therefore all documents need to be submitted through the Secretary of State in the US State where the document originates.

Do I need a US Department of State Seal?

Unless the country where the document will be used is a member of the Hague Legalization Convention, most documents must have a seal of authentication from the US Department of State and a seal from the appropriate Embassy or Consulate legalizing the document. Travisa will process the authentication and legalization for you. There are other exceptions, when the US Department of State seal is not required. In this case, Travisa will process the legalization directly through the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

How do I obtain the US Department of State Seal?

Follow the steps provided by Travisa to place your order. Make a full set of copies of all document(s) per set, and send the documents to Travisa. Travisa will process the US Department of State authentication and the legalization with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

How do I obtain the Government Seal from the country where I will use this document?

Follow the steps provided by Travisa to place your order. Make a full set of copies of all document(s) per set, and send the documents to Travisa. Travisa will process the US Department of State authentication and the legalization with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

What is an Apostille?

The apostille certificate is a special seal that is used for documents that are for use in countries that are members of the Hague Legalization Convention. Members of this convention have agreed to abolish the requirement of legalization of public documents between members States.

What is the Hague Convention?

The “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents” is an agreement between certain countries that the requirement for diplomatic and consular legalization will not be required for public documents to be used in other member countries. Public documents can include documents issued by a court or an administrative authority (such as civil records), and executed before a notary. Such documents require an Apostille certificate, which can be issued by a State Secretary of State, and should not need any further authentication.

Is the US a member of the Hague Legalization Convention?

The United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents since October 15, 1981.