An apostille certificate is used to authenticate the origin of a public document. For the apostille to be considered, both the issuing and receiving countries must be a member of the Apostille Convention. The documents that need apostilles are school diplomas, birth certificates, power of attorneys, transcripts, marriage certificates, and death certificates.
Apostilles are used when public documents are transferred between countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. This international treaty aimed streamlined the cumbersome, traditional procedure for authenticating documents, but the authentication rules differ across states.
An apostille certificate is issued by the Secretary of State’s office or by any Notary commissioning agency. Once verified and prepared, the apostille services providers send it along with the notarized documents. Notaries cannot provide the apostille services themselves. Although, most documents that require an apostille have to be notarized first.
Authentication certificates are used only for non-members of the Hague Convention destination countries. Instead of a single apostille certificate, the document needs other authentication certificates, including those from the commissioning agency, the consul of the destination country, the U.S. Department of State, and potentially another government official from the destination country.
There are several variables to be considered before providing apostille services. Each state handles an apostille request differently, and this is exactly where the confusion starts. For instance, some states charge a different fee per document; Texas costs $15 per document apostille while Indianadoes not charge a fee for apostille documents. The service delivery time also differs across states like Texas and New Mexico give same-day delivery, but Indiana does not provide any definite deadline.
For providing seamless apostille services, these top confusions need to be addressed:
Country of destination: If the document is to be used in a non-Hague country, then it will require authentication, not apostille certification.
State of origin of the document: The state of origin will determine which who needs to issue the apostille. The originating state issues apostilles. For instance, a resident of Mexico needs to submit an apostille of his college in Carolina to his office in Mexico. He needs to forward the request to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office for a Mexico apostille.
Type of document: The kind of document determines the approval authority. For example, an FBI Federal document for use in Mexico must be apostilled by the U.S. Department of State and Mexico being a member of the Apostille Convention does not require any authentication other than the apostille.
Date of the document: Rules regarding the date on the documents vary from state to state. For instance, if a Texas resident applies for his birth certificate with a date that is more than three years old, a fresh certified copy of the document needs to be requested. In Texas, birth certificates requiring an apostille cannot be more than three years old.
The process of apostille is cumbersome and confusing as rules vary in different states. Infact, the diverse nature of authentication rules across the United States has made things complicated for people as well as notaries. The best example to consider is the confusion regarding the I9 verification services. People don’t even know whether it needs notarization or not. Even the notaries are confused regarding their authority to provide I9 verification services or stamp the document. To conclude, the dynamic nature of the US verification processes should be the major concern to provide apostille services, I9 verification services, or any other legal authentication services.