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Authentications/Apostilles


Authenticating Documents For Use In Foreign Nations

Apostille, Certificate of Authority, and Certificate of Incumbency
Apostilles are issued for documents that are going to be used in countries that are members of The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (1961), or more commonly known as the Hague Apostille Convention.

Certificates of Authority and Certificates of Incumbency are similar to the Apostille in that the same information and fee is required as when submitting an application for an Apostille. The difference between Certificates and an Apostille is that Certificates are applied to documents that are to be used in countries that are not members of the Hague Apostille Convention.

Since not all countries are members of the Hague Convention, it is important that you list the country where your documents are to be used. We will match the country with the appropriate authentication method, according to the latest information from The Hague.

Requests for Apostilles and Certificates

For Mail-In Service:
Submit a written request by mail to the Index Department in Springfield, IL, along with the following:

Please note: Requests to forward or return authenticated documents that do not include a shipping label “pre-printed” from the FedEx or UPS website will be sent by First Class mail. Mail documents to:
Illinois Secretary of State
Index Department
111 E. Monroe
Springfield, IL 62756

Normal processing time of documents received by mail in the Springfield office is 7-10 business days. Do not send mail to the Chicago office; doing so will delay processing of your documents.

Walk-In Service:
You may bring your application or letter of request and your documents to our offices in Springfield or Chicago between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. In most cases documents will be processed while you wait. All applications are taken on a first-come- first-served basis. Same day service is NOT guaranteed and decisions about processing are based on the number of documents submitted, the time of day, and available staff. When documents cannot be processed on the same day, we will strive to have documents processed as early as possible on the next business day.

Springfield Office:
Secretary of State
Index Department
111 E. Monroe
Springfield, IL 62756
217-782-7017
Chicago Office:
Secretary of State
Index Department
17 N. State Street, Ste. 1030
Chicago, IL 60602
312-814-8218

Note: The Chicago office only processes Authentications. All other Index Department services and records are available at the Springfield office.

Fees

A $2 for each Apostille/Certificate is required. Each document requires its own separate Apostille/Certificate.

Authenticating a Vital Record

When you need a vital record (birth/death certificate, marriage or dissolution of marriage certificate, etc.) authenticated, you should first get a certified copy of the record from the county clerk, local registrar or Illinois Department of Public Health / Vital Records Division. Divorce decrees must be a certified copy from the circuit clerk of the court where the divorce was granted. Do not notarize these types of documents.

Authenticating a Transcript or Diploma

When an applicant needs to authenticate a transcript or diploma for use in a country other than the USA, the authorities in those countries typically require students’ records to be certified by the school or university and then authenticated by the State. To fulfill these requirements, the applicant must have the person in charge of the records (normally the Registrar or Principal) certify and sign the record in the presence of the Notary Public, who notarizes that statement. The notarized transcript or diploma is then sent to the Secretary of State’s office for an Apostille or Certificate of Authority. See the Sample Certificates section for more details.

The Illinois Secretary of State accepts applications for an Apostille or Certificate for documents including, but not limited to:

Business / Corporate Use
Certified copies of business organization documents on file with the Illinois Secretary of State:

Complete the appropriate form, and mail or walk-in the appropriate forms and fees.

Please note: Organizational documents (Bylaws, meeting minutes) that are not on file with the Corporation Division, must be notarized before an Apostille or Certificate can be attached.

Personal / Individual Use
Documents notarized or certified as true copies (not an exhaustive list):

Documents notarized or certified as true copies (not an exhaustive list):

Apostilles and certifications.
(a) A request for an apostille or a certification shall be submitted on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State and must be accompanied by the lawful fee for the apostille or certification.

(b) The Secretary of State may refuse to issue an apostille or certification if:

(1) the document has not been certified by the appropriate authority, if applicable;

(2) the document has not been properly notarized in accordance with the Illinois Notary Public Act, if applicable;

(3) the document submitted to the Secretary of State is not an original document;

(4) the document is intended for use in the United States or in a country not party to the Hague Legalization Convention, if applicable;

(5) the document makes a claim regarding or purports to affect citizenship, immunity, allegiance to a government or jurisdiction, sovereignty, or any similar or related matter; or

(6) the Secretary of State has reasonable cause to believe the document may be used to accomplish any fraudulent, criminal, or unlawful purpose.

(c) A person may not remove an apostille, certification, any part of the apostille or certification, or the "great seal of the State of Illinois" from any document to which the Secretary of State has affixed it. This act or any attempt to do so shall render the apostille or certification invalid.

(d) The Secretary of State shall have the power and authority reasonably necessary to administer this Section efficiently, to perform the duties imposed by this Section, and to adopt rules relating to those duties, in accordance with the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. (Source: P.A. 98-170, eff. 8-5-13.)

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=197&ChapterID=4M

Sample Certificates

Short Form for Witnessing or Attesting a Signature of a School Official
Required elements:

  1. State and county where the document was notarized.
  2. Statement by school official (principal/registrar) as to the authenticity and type of document being notarized.
  3. Signature of the school official. Document must be signed in the notary’s presence.
  4. Statement by the notary indicating who signed the document and the date the document was signed.
  5. Signature line for the notary (signature must be exactly as the seal/stamp reads).
  6. Clear and legible imprint of the notary seal/stamp with the notary’s name, commission number and expiration date on it.

Example Form

Short Form for a Photocopy of Document
Required elements:

  1. State and county where the document was notarized.
  2. Date of notarization.
  3. Statement to the effect, and type of document in possession.
  4. Signature line for the notary (signature must be exactly as the seal/stamp reads).
  5. Clear and legible imprint of the notary seal/stamp with the notary’s name, commission number and expiration date on it.

Example Form

The notarial certificate is the necessary framework of the notarization. It ties the other elements together and provides details about the notarial act being performed. Even if the notary signs and has affixed their seal the notarial act does not comply with statutory requirements if the notarial certificate is missing. For more information about notary certificates see 5 ILCS 312/6-103 through 6-105.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Authentication?
An authentication certifies the authenticity of the signature, seal and position of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of a public document. An authentication is also used to certify the good standing and authority of a notary public who has notarized a document.

An authentication can be in the form of an Apostille, when the document is destined to be used in a nation that is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention (as explained above). When the document is destined to be used in a nation that is not a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, authentications will be in the form of a Certificate of Incumbency or a Certificate of Authority.

An Apostille, Certificate of Incumbency or Certificate of Authority enables a public document or a notarized document issued in one country to be recognized as valid in another country.

The Office of the Secretary of State does not regulate what documents are required by the foreign country. To verify the required documents necessary to complete your transaction, contact the embassy or consulate of the country to where the documents are intended to be used.

A certificate of authentication is affixed to documents intended for countries that are not party to the Hague Convention. Apostilles require no further diplomatic or consular legalization, while certificates of authentication must first be processed by the U.S. Department of State before being sent to countries that are not party to the Hague Convention.

What is the Hague Convention?
The Hague Convention of 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents is an international treaty. The United States signed this treaty on October 15, 1981. The Convention simplified the authentication process of public documents to be used in nations that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention. Only those nations party to the Hague Treaty will recognize the apostille certification. For more information please visit their website: http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=41

Can you forward my authenticated documents outside of the United States?
Our normal practice is to return all authenticated documents by first class mail with the self-addressed, stamped envelope you provide. However, FedEx and UPS have a scheduled pick-up at our office each business day, so if your document authentication request includes an International shipping label, pre-paid and pre-printed from FedEx or UPS, as a courtesy we can hand these to the courier.

Please note: Requests to forward or return authenticated documents that do not include a shipping label “pre-printed” from the FedEx or UPS will be sent via USPS by First Class mail.

How would I obtain a U.S. passport?
You must contact the U.S. Dept of State, at 877-487-2778 or TDD/TTY: 888-874-7793. Passport Information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., EST, excluding federal holidays. Or, visit their website at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.

How do I certify documents Issued by Federal Courts or Agencies?
Documents issued under the seal of a federal court or agency should certified by the U. S. Department of State. To find out more information on how to obtain apostilles through the U.S. Department of State you may visit their website at: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/ or through the mail at:
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT
1st Fl.
1150 Passport Services Pl.
Dulles, VA 20189-1150

Are you open during the lunch hour?
Yes, our offices are open Mon. – Fri., 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., (even on your lunch hour); except for major Holidays.

I have an FBI background check that needs to be authenticated. Can you do that?
No. With regard to FBI background checks, you must request the authentication at the time you submit your request for the background check. See the FBI website, and their Frequently Asked Questions for further information on criminal background checks.

Can you tell me what I need to get dual citizenship for my child?
You should check with the Consulate or Embassy of the foreign nation to determine what documents are required for dual citizenship. Once completed we will provide the appropriate authentication for Illinois state and local government certified documents and documents notarized in Illinois by an Illinois notary public.

I was married in Illinois and I need an authentication of my marriage license. Can you do that?
Yes. The marriage certificate must be signed by the county clerk, local registrar or Illinois State Registrar.

I have my birth certificate from Michigan and my marriage license from Indiana, can you authenticate them?
No. We can only authenticate Illinois vital records. You will need to contact Michigan to authenticate your birth certificate and Indiana for the marriage license. The Secretary of State of each state in the United States is authorized to issue Authentications for documents created within that state's jurisdiction.

I need to add a page to the document you already authenticated; can I remove the certificate, add the page, and reattach the authentication certificate?
No. Do not remove Apostille or authentication certificates once they are attached to your document. Removal of the authentication will invalidate the Apostille or Certificate.

Can the Secretary of State translate my marriage certificate to Spanish (or other language) and then issue an apostille or certificate?
No. The Secretary of State does not translate documents. When a translation is required, you need to have the document translated and have the translation notarized. You may then apply for an authentication of the notary public’s authority.

I was born/married outside of the United States, how can I have my birth/marriage certificate authenticated?
If you were born to U.S. parents, contact The U.S. Dept. of State, Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, 1111 19th Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705, (202) 955-0307, or visit their website at http://travel.state.gov/law/family_issues/birth/birth_593.html for your birth certificate. Let them know you need that authenticated for use outside of the United States.

To be sure of the requirements for such transactions, you may check with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office: USCIS Application Support Center, 721 Southwest 14th Avenue, Portland, OR 97205-1904. Or visit their website at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis.

Otherwise, you should check with the country of origin about a certified copy of the certificate(s).