The Apostille Process

What is an Apostille?

An Apostille is an authentication of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. Some countries only will recognize your Birth Certificate or other type of official document if is authenticated by the Secretary of State which the document was issued. This authentication can be an Apostille or a Certification. The country of destination will determine whether they require an Apostille or Certification.

Whose signatures can be authenticated (apostilled)?

The California Secretary of State only authenticates signatures on documents issued in the State of California signed by a notary public or the following public officials and their deputies:

  • County Clerks or Recorders
  • Court Administrators of the Superior Court
  • Executive Clerks of the Superior Court
  • Officers whose authority is not limited to any particular county
  • Executive Officers of the Superior Court
  • Judges of the Superior Court
  • State Officials

What documents are typically submitted for authentication?

  • Birth Certificates
  • Bylaws
  • Certificates of Non-Marital Status
  • Corporate documents such as articles, mergers, amendments, etc.
  • Deeds of Assignment
  • Distributorship Agreements
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Papers for adoption purposes
  • Powers of Attorney
  • School records such as diplomas, transcripts, letters relating to degrees, etc.
  • References and Job Certification
  • Trademarks

How do I get an Apostille on my Birth Certificate?

You must first have the signature of Health Officer verified by the County Clerk, located at 701 Ocean St., Room 310, in Santa Cruz. The fee for signature verification is $15 per document, cash or check made payable to the County Clerk.

Follow procedures below regarding how to obtain an Apostille from the Secretary of State.

How do I get an Apostille on my Marriage License?

Marriage licenses are issued by the Santa Cruz County Clerk Tricia Webber. The Secretary of State verifies her signature.

Follow procedures below regarding how to obtain an Apostille from the Secretary of State.

How do I get an Apostille on a notarized document?

Notary signatures may be verified by the Secretary of State or by the county in which the notary is registered. The Santa Cruz County Clerk maintains signatures of notaries in Santa Cruz County.

Follow procedures below regarding how to obtain an Apostille from the Secretary of State.

How do I obtain an Apostille from the Secretary of State?

To avoid delays that may result from out-of-date documents, a document certified by a county official (e.g. county clerk) should have a certification date within the last five years or a new certified copy should be obtained from the appropriate county official.

You must identify the country of destination when the documents are submitted to the Secretary of State. To facilitate the processing of documents submitted by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and your daytime telephone number.

Documents can be dropped off in person to the Sacramento office for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). In addition, there are regional offices in San Diego and Los Angeles. For regional office locations, click here. The Sacramento address is:

Office of the Secretary of State
1500 11th St., 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Or the documents can be mailed to the Sacramento office ONLY.

P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001

Secretary of State’s Fee: $20 per signature to be authenticated and a $6 special handling fee (per public official for documents submitted over the counter).

Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Secretary of State.

Background on the Apostille Process

In 1961 many nations joined together to create a simplified method of "legalizing" documents for universal recognition in each other's countries. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents (33 U.S.T 883), adopted a document referred to as an Apostille that would be recognized by all member nations.

Documents sent to member nations, completed with an Apostille at the state level, may be submitted directly to the member nation without further action.

Documents sent to non-member nations requiring a Certification of the signature of the state's public official at the state level, will need to be transmitted to the Office of Authentications of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. for the authentication of the State Official's signature if requested by the receiving country.