Apostille or Notarial Certification?

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Apostille or Notarial Certification?

Apostilles and Notarial Certifications FAQs.


What is an apostille?

The 1961 Hague Convention established the apostille as a form of authentication for its member states. An apostille is authentication of a public document in a foreign country. A public document is a document issued by an elected or appointed public official or has been notarized.

The Office of the Secretary of State provides apostille and authentication service to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals on documents that will be used overseas. Types of documents include corporate documents such as company bylaws and articles of incorporation, power of attorney, diplomas, transcripts, letters relating to degrees, marital status, references and job certifications, home studies, deeds of assignments, distributorship agreements, papers for adoption purposes, etc. The U.S. State Department provides general information about document authentications and apostilles under the Hague Convention of 1961.

The apostille certifies the authenticity of the issuing official or notary public’s signature. Each state designates a Competent Authority who issues an apostille for a public document. The Florida Secretary of State is the Competent Authority in Florida. Only the Competent Authority can issue an apostille.


What is a Notarial Certification?

Countries that are nonmembers of the 1961 Hague Convention are not issued an apostille; they are issued notarial certificates or certifications.  Like the apostille, this certification authenticates the issuing official or notary signature. In that case, a Certificate of Notarial Authority is issued by the Secretary of State.


I have a State of Florida document that I need to use abroad/out of the country. Does it need to be authenticated by the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of State?

Yes. First, submit your document to the Florida Secretary of State for authentication, and then forward the documentation to the U.S. Department of State, if required for processing.


How can I verify the authenticity of a Florida apostille or notarial certificate?

The certificate is issued on security paper, which cannot be photocopied. Photocopies will have the word “VOID” displayed throughout. Each certificate is assigned a unique identification number displayed on the back of the certificate in the lower left hand corner.

The Florida Department of State will verify the certificate’s authenticity. Send a copy of the certificate along with a written request to our Apostille/Certification Section.


Please feel free to contact us via email or by calling (305) 791-6909 for more information and rates for this particular service or if you have any other questions or comments about the notarial services our team of professional public notaries provides.



The information above described is been based on the “GOVERNOR’S REFERENCE MANUAL FOR NOTARIES” available free to the public on the flgov.com website.

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