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Los Angeles California Apostille

Even though the Los Angeles office of the Secretary of State of California for apostilles is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that does not mean we can't help you obtain an apostille or legalization on your documents.

What is an Apostille or Certification?

Both apostilles and certifications are used by foreign governments to assess the authenticity of an official signature on a document; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted; and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document. When the Department of State authenticates a document with an apostille or certification, the department verifies that the person who signed the document is a California official and the Secretary of State has given "full faith and credit" to the official's seal and signature.

Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention.

Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille." The apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country. Apostilles require no further diplomatic or consular legalization.

For documents intended for use in countries which are not signatories to the Hague Convention, the Department of State attaches a certification. Note that unlike apostilles, which require no further legalization, certificates of authentication may require further diplomatic or consular legalization before being sent overseas. This may require further authentication by the U.S. Department of State and the Foreign Embassy of the country of intended use.

A certification performs the same duty as an apostille; however, its appearance and places of use are different.

Although apostilles and certification serve the same purpose, substituting one for the other will delay the use of your documents. It is essential that you inform the Department of State as to where the documents are to be used.

The apostilles and certifications issued by the Secretary of State are attached to the dossier document exclusively by means of a staple. This is the only procedure for attachment in California. California state law and custom do not allow for the documents to be sewn, riveted, glued or attached together by ribbons. California also does not number pages or affix seals for purposes of sealing documents together. It is furthermore the understanding of this office that the 2003 Special Commission of the Hague Conference on Private International Law concerning the practical operation of the Hague Apostille Convention concluded that stapled documents meet the obligations of the Hague treaty.

The California Department of State issues Apostilles for documents that were issued in California, including:

Birth certificates

Death certificates

Marriage certificates

Divorce certificates

Educational documents, such as school transcripts and diplomas

In Los Angeles, there is no margin for error with the authentication or apostille process. If mistakes are made, both your time and money will be wasted and you'll have to start all over again. If you want to look into outsourcing this part of preparing to studying abroad to someone with experience, please email me at or call 848-467-7740 to request my services or learn more.

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