An Apostille is a type of certification established in the 1961 Hague Convention; The United States became a signatory to the Agreement in 1981. The form contains numbered fields that allow the country that receives the document to understand it, regardless of the official language of the country that issues it.
What is an Apostille used for?
The purpose of the Apostille is “to eliminate the requirement of diplomatic or consular legalization of foreign public documents”. Once the Apostille is completed, it certifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person has acted when signing the document, and identifies the seal/stamp that the document bears.
Who issues Apostilles?
Each signatory nation may designate which authorities may issue Apostilles for its jurisdiction. The United States has designated the Secretary of State (or its equivalent) of the various states as such authority. The Texas Secretary of State has expanded this authorization to include the Assistant Secretary of State and division directors.
The Texas Secretary of State may issue an apostille for documents issued by persons on file with this Office, including county clerks, notaries public, and state level officials. Birth/death certificates recently issued by local registrars must have been issued within the last three (3) years for the Secretary of State to issue an Apostille for such.
Federal court clerks are the competent authorities that issue Apostilles for federal government documents.
What types of documents need to be Apostilled?
The Apostille can be obtained to transmit public documents executed in a signatory country to another signatory country where the documents must be presented. The Hague Convention defines “public documents” as:
- Those from a court, court clerk, prosecutor or bailiff,
- Administrative documents,
- Notarial deeds,
- Official certificates placed on documents
These types of “public documents” would include birth/death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce certificates, school records, and diplomas/bachelor’s degrees, among others.
How do I get an Apostille?
An Apostille can be requested in person or by mail. The appropriate section within this Agency will be responsible for the document(s). Please go to the Corporations Section with requests for corporate documents that require an Apostille. For Apostilles of documents issued before a Texas notary public, documents issued by state officials (such as the Chief of Vital Records, district judges, transportation records administrator, etc.), and certified copies recently issued by county officials and local registrars, please submit your requests to the Authentication Section.
In addition to providing us with your document(s), please indicate the name of the country to which the document(s) is/are to be transmitted.
A statutory fee of US$15.00 (fifteen dollars) is requested for each Apostille requested, unless it is for use in adoption proceedings. If the requested Apostille will be for use in procedures related to the adoption, the cost is US$10.00 (ten dollars) for each Apostille with a maximum total sum of US$100.00 (one hundred dollars) for the adoption of each child. Checks and money orders should be made payable to “Secretary of the State of Texas”. This office also accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards (PDF).