Apostilles are a form of certification of a document originating in one country for use in another. A document issued in one country may not be recognized in another country as a result of differences in language, certification, and legal effect of the document without proper certification, an apostille. An apostille (a French word meaning certification) is an international certification comparable to a notarization in New York law.
To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be certified by an officer recognized by the authority (in New York, the New York Department of State) that will issue the apostille. For example, in New York, the Secretary of State maintains specimen signatures of all officers of a certain level of government, such as County or City Clerks, so documents that have been executed and certified by the Clerks are eligible for apostilles.
If not directly eligible for issuance of the Apostille, intermediate certifications may be required before the document will be eligible. Therefore, before presentment to the New York Department of State, the document will be required to be notarized and the notary’s signature authenticated by the County Clerk.
A list of the documents that require notarization prior to issuance of the apostille may be found at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/corps/apostille.html.
A list of the participating countries may be found at http://hcch.e-vision.nl/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=41.
Instructions on obtaining an apostille seal:
1) The document must have an original signature of a Notary Public, Commissioner of Deeds, stamped signature of a Registrar of Vital Statistics with a raised seal, or signature and seal of an official recognized by the New York State Department of State.
2) If required, (and this is the usual case), the document is then be presented to the County Clerk’s Office for an Authentication. An Authentication certifies that the signature of the notary, commissioner or is genuine. The authentication can only be obtained from the County Clerk with whom that particular signature is filed. There is a $3 fee per Authentication.
3) A representative of New York State Department of State then will attach an apostille to the document:
Send by mail to:
Department of State, Miscellaneous/State Records Bureau
One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Avenue
Albany, N.Y. 12231
The document(s) may also be processed in person at the Albany Office between the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
• The request for apostille should be accompanied by a letter stating:
-The customer would like the Secretary of State to attach an apostille to the document(s);
-The country to which the document is being sent (Guam, Philippines, Northern Mariana Islands, United State Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, as territories of the United States, are not considered foreign countries); and
-Customer’s day-time phone number and address so the document can be returned to them. We recommend that you enclose self-addressed, stamped envelopes for return of the document.
• The customer must also include a certified check, bank draft, money order or attorney check (no personal checks) of $10.00 made payable to “New York Department of State”
If a customer gives the County Clerk’s Office the document and includes with it a postage-paid envelope to the Department of State, the $10.00 fee, the cover letter to the Department of State and a return envelope to the customer’s address, the County Clerk’s Office will send it to the Department of State on their behalf.