What is an Apostille Stamp?

What is an Apostille Stamp?

An Apostille is the accepted form of Attestation required to acknowledge the validity of the foreign documents. The Apostille stamp approves the authority of the signer, in which he or she acted , not the content of the document.

What does the word “Apostille” mean?

Apostille is pronounced as a·pos·tille \ə-päs-’til\

The term “Apostille” is a French word, which means “to certify”, was first suggested by the signatory countries to the Apostille Treaty Hague Treaty 1961 to describe the accepted international form of authentication to legalize foreign public documents. The word is also pronounced “ Apostila” in Spanish.

Sample of US Apostille Certificate

The accepted Apostille attestation in the United States must contain fixed information in order for the document to be recognized abroad. Although every state issues different form of Apostille Stamp, However, each Apostille must contain this information regardless of the designated authority that issued the Apostille.

US Apostille Sample

Sample of US Apostille Certified Stamp
Sample of US Apostille Certified Stamp

US Apostille Certificate must contain the following:-

  • The Country (The origin country in which the document was issued)
  • This Public document has been signed by ( The name of the person that signed the documents)
  • Acting in the capacity of (The position/ function of the signer)
  • bears the Seal/ Stamp of (The designated authority of the signer)


  • At ( in which State it was certified)
  • The ( the date of issuance the apostille)
  • By ( Name )
  • No. (The number of the Apostille certificate)
  • The Seal/Stamp ( the golden Apostille stamp of the authority that issued the apostille).
  • Signature ( the signature of the designated authority that issued the apostille).

Apostille Hague Convention Treaty 1961

The Apostille Convention is an international treaty, held in the Netherlands on 1961, to abolish the requirements of foreign documents.

Each signatory country to the Apostille Convention designated a competent authority to affix the Apostille Certificate to public documents destined for use in one of the other Hague Treaty members.

U.S. responsible authorities for issuing an apostille Stamp

The US government has assigned TWO different authorities to issue the Apostille attestation on documents destined for foreign use depending on the document type:-

Secretary of State office

The Local Secretary of State offices in all 50 states in the designated authority to issue the apostille attestation on public state documents such as:

  • Court documents.
  • Notarized documents by local Notary Public Like Power of Attorney, Affidavit
  • Vital Records like Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce Certificate.
  • Corporate documents like Agreements, Certificate of Formation.

US department of State in Washington DC

It is the designated authority to issue the Apostile Stamp on documents issued by the federal Agencies in the United States such as:

  • The Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA).
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  • The Homeland Security Agency.
  • Social Security Agency

Hague Convention Participating Countries

Since 1961, many countries have ratified the Apostille treaty to abolish document legalization procedure of foreign public documents. Here is a list of the countries that accept the Apostille form as an evidence of the document’s authenticity:

Apostille Convention Countries


Difference between legalisation and apostille service

International Certification in the United States

International Certification in the United States

If you want to work, live or study abroad, you will need to certify your documents/certificates in order to be valid for use abroad.

Depending on your destination country, you might need “Apostille” or “embassy legalization.” This post will display the key information to know the difference between apostille and legalization.

We will also show you how you can certify your documents easily, timely, and above all, with the best available price.

Difference between Apostille and Legalization:

Difference between Apostille and Legalization

In the Hague, Netherland, 1961, the apostille treaty was signed and approved to abolish documents’ legalization requirements and replace it with a unified sample of the “Apostille Stamp.

Countries that have signed the treaty are no longer require document legalization from the embassy of the destination country in Washington DC and replace it with only an Apostille that can be obtained from the local Secretary of State or the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC for federally issued documents.

On the other hand, many countries didn’t join the Apostille treaty and still require the legalization of its embassy on any U.S. document to recognize its validity.

Documents issued in the United States and destined for use in a non-Hague country require certification from the Local Secretary of State, authentication from the U.S. Department of State, and finally, legalization from the embassy of the destination country in Washington DC.

How to apostille U.S. documents?

To apostille, a document is much easier than legalizing it. The Apostille is a one-step only, and then you are done.

While document legalization requires two steps before you can even go to the embassy for the final step, how can you obtain your Apostille by yourself? Here is how:

What is the type of your document?

If you have a state-issued document, then you can get your apostille from the local Secretary of State office in 50 States.

If you have a document issued by one of the federal agencies in the United States such as FDA, FBI, USPTO, USDA, EPA, U.S. Homeland Security, it will require an apostille from the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC.

Note: Documents signed by state officials such as (vital records) birth, death, marriage, article of incorporation does not require a prior notarization.

If you have documents signed by an individual, such as a power of Attorney, Affidavits, diplomas, then it will require being notarized in front of a notary public in the same State that issued the document.

Here are some documents you may have the Apostille on:

•             Circuit Court documents.

•             Birth and death documents.

•             School transcripts.

•             Marriage and divorce certificates.

•             Warrants.

•             Trademarks.

•             State criminal background checks.

•             Power of attorney.

•             Certificate of existence

•             Certificate of Incumbency

•             Patent Assignment

•             Trademark Assignment

•             Technical Data Sheet

•             Certificate of Free Sale

•             Certificate of Analysis

•             an ISO Certificate

What are the steps and procedures to request the apostille seal from the Secretary of your State?

  • Notarized document (if required, depending on the type of document).
  • A cover letter contains; your name, address, name of the country where you wish to use your documents, and an e-mail address.
  • A self-addressed envelope for the return & a prepaid airbill if you wish to use express mail.
  • A check or money order payable to the Secretary of State.

– Some States may require a signature from the local county office prior to notarization

Most of the time, all Secretaries of State require the same points mentioned above.

How to legalize a US document?

If you are going to use your document in a non-Hague country, it will need to be legalized first. The document needs to be certified by the Local Secretary of State office, authenticated from the US department of State and legalized from the embassy of the destination country in Washington DC.  

Legalization and Apostille Services

You can use the help of a legalization and Apostille service providers in the United States. One day apostille offers the lowest apostille and legalisation fee in the United States. Choose your destination country ( Apostille Countries or Legalization Countries ) to know fees, procedures and turnaround time. 


How to Apostille a Document | The Definitive Guide

How to Apostille a Document

apostille a document

Apostille is the official form of authentication that is required to validate the use of documents outside the United States. Your document must be affixed with an Apostille stamp from the correct designated authority to be valid for use in any Apostille convention participating countries.


What is an Apostille Convention


The Hague Apostille Convention was held in the Hague “ the Netherlands” in 1961, to facilitate the complicated legalization procedures of foreign documents and to replace it with the Apostille Stamp or” Apostille Certificate”. All the following countries have signed the Apostille treaty:


If you are going to use your document in any of those countries, you will need to affix your document with an Apostille to be valid for use abroad. There are 2 designated authorities in the United States, which are responsible for the issuance of Apostille certificates on documents destined for use in the Hague Convention Signatory Countries.


  1. US Department of State of State Apostille for Federal Documents


  • Examples of Federal documents including:



FDA Documents FBI Document Homeland Security Documents
Sanitation Certificate Criminal Background Check Naturalization Certificate
BSE- Free Certificate. USPTO Documents Social Security Documents
Certificate of Free Sale (CFS). Patent Social Security Benefit Letter
Certificate of Exportability. Trademark
Certificate to Foreign Government (CFG). USDA Documents
Certificate of Non-Clinical Research Use Only Materials Certificate. Plant certificate
Good Manufacture Practice Certificate (GMP). Animal Health Certificate
Certificate of Pharmaceutical products (COPP). Phytosanitary Certificate
Certificate of Pharmaceutical product- Foreign Manufacturer IRS Documents
Specified Risk Material of Bovine, Ovine, and Caprine Origin Materials. Form 6166‐ US Tax Residency



  • How to get an Apostille from the US Department of State?


Your document must be an original document ( not a photocopy) and issued from one of the federal agencies in the United States and bear the federal stamp or signature. After you ensure that your document meet the previous requirement, prepare an envelope that contain the following items and send it to the US Department of State in Washington DC to get your document apostille. The envelope must include:


  1. The document that need to be apostilled.
  2. You payment: $8.00 per document, make your payment payable to the
    “US department of State”.
  3. Download and fill the order form then include it with your envelope
  4. Include a prepaid airway bill to return your documents
  5. Send your package to the Following address:
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
600 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

  • The process will take about 3- 4 Business days. After your receive your package from the US Department of State, your documents will be ready for use outside the United States.
  1. Secretary of State Apostille for Public State and Personal Documents


  • Examples of Federal documents including:



Corporate Documents
Minutes of Organizational Meeting of directors Certificate of Incumbency Power of Attorney. Shareholder List
Restated Certificate of Incorporation Certificate of existence Certificate of Analysis letter of Intent
Foreign Certificate of Registration Agency Agreement Letter of Resignation Operating Agreement
Shareholder certificate of Interest Business Letter Distributor Agreement Asset purchase Agreement
Foreign Certificate of Registration Letter of Authorization Amendment Bill of Sale
Termination of foreign Corporation Articles of Incorporation ISO Certificate Certificate of Formation
Shareholder Contribution Schedule Certificate of Merger Technical Data Sheet corporate Consolidation
Agreement to Form a Corporation Corporate Resolution Affidavit Change of Agent
Statement of Dissolution Company Bylaws Free sale Certificate Consolidation Certificate
Stock Purchase Agreement Business License Stock Certificate Certificate of Good Standing
Export Documents
Commercial Invoice Dangerous Goods Certificate Shipper Letter of Instruction
Certificate of Origin Consular Invoice Certificate of Analysis
Packing List Pro Forma Invoice Pre-Shipment Inspection
Bill of Lading (Air, Ocean, Truck, Rail) Letter of Credit Veterinary certificate
Insurance Certificate Export License Sales certificate
Halal Certificate Bank Draft Weight Certificate
Kosher Certificate Export Declaration Fumigation Certificate
Health Certificate Phytosanitary Certificate
Educational Documents Vital Records
School/ College Transcript Birth Certificate
School/ College Diploma Death Certificate
Teaching Credentials Marriage Certificate
TESOL Certificate Divorce Certificate
Bachelor Degree/ Certificate Divorce decree
Graduate Record Examination GRE Driver License
Doctorate Certificate US Passport
Master Degree
Associate Degree
Doctorate Degree



  • How to get an Apostille from the Office of the SOS in your State?


Each State has a Secretary of State office, which is responsible for the issuance of Apostille Certificates on public state documents (the above mentioned documents). You will need to follow the requirement of your state in order obtain the Apostille timely and without any complications.

Stay tuned to our next article about how to obtain an apostille from the Secretary of STate Office