Apostille, Authentication, and Legalization FAQs | Call: +1 (415) 655-9455


Not sure what an apostille is or how the process works? Read on for answers to our most frequently asked questions or call +1 (415) 655-9455 to ask a human.

What is an apostille?

Every country has different requirements for certifying documents. This can cause delays in international transactions because the receiving country has different requirements than the submitting country.

To speed up the process, countries at the 1961 Hague Conference on International Law signed the the Apostille Convention, which makes any document with an apostille attached acceptable in any other member country. (Apostille is French for “marginal note.”)

Which countries have signed the Hague Apostille Convention?

As of September 2021, 120 countries have signed the Apostille Convention. The apostille on your document will be accepted in any of these countries:

Albania
Andorra
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Burundi
Cape Verde
Chile
Colombia
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominica

Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Estonia
Fiji
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Honduras
Hong Kong
Hungary
Iceland
India*
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Kazakhstan
Kosovo
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Lesotho
Liberia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania

Luxembourg
Macau
Macedonia
Malawi
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Morocco
Namibia
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niue
Norway
Oman
Palau
Panama
Paraguay
Philippines**
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
São Tomé and Príncipe
Serbia
Seychelles
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
South Korea
Spain
Suriname
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Tajikistan
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Venezuela

*India may require additional processing for certain documents

**Philippines now requires an apostille on Special Powers of Attorney (SPAs)

Click on a tab below for more information.

What about other countries?

Countries that are not party to the Apostille Convention, and even some that are, have highly specific authentication/legalization requirements. Select a tab below or contact us to learn more.


China

China requires an Authentication Application Form, a copy of your driver’s license or DMV-issued ID card, and a copy of your passport. The form must be filled out in ALL CAPS and signed twice in wet black ink.

Sound complicated? SF Notary’s China authentication specialists can complete the application for you as your agent. Just email us a request with the company name (if it’s a commercial document), and attach a copy of your passport. We then bring everything to the Chinese consulate, submit it for legalization, and pick it up when it’s authenticated. China charges $25 per document for personal documents and $50 per document for business documents with a five-day turnaround, or $70 for expedited three-day turnaround on personal or business documents.*

*Note: the Chinese Consulate is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19, which is causing major delays in processing times. We have to submit the document electronically for pre-approval, which generally takes one week but can sometimes take as long as four weeks. Once the document is approved, we have to send and receive it via USPS Priority Mail. Expedited service is not available, and regular service is sometimes taking longer than the standard five days due to the inconsistent processing times of the consulate. Unfortunately, we are unable to speed up the process.

Please call us at +1 (415) 655-9455 before mailing any documents that need to be authenticated for China.


India

India is party to the Apostille Convention, but depending on what kind of documents are being apostilled, additional documentation may be required. Visit the Ministry of External Affairs for details.

Please call us at +1 (415) 655-9455 before mailing any documents that need to be authenticated for India.


Philippines Special Power of Attorney (SPA)

The Philippine Consulate is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 precautions. Formerly, the Consulate offered services from Philippines-commissioned notaries who could notarize Special Powers of Attorney (SPA) documents, but that service has been suspended until further notice.Recipients of SPA documents in the Philippines often require SPA documents notarized by notaries in California or other staters and countries to add an additional layer of certification–called an apostille–to give the document the same legal status as if it were notarized by a Philippines-commissioned notary in the Philippines or the Philippine Consulate.We make the process easy for you. We can set an appointment to meet in our Hayes Valley, San Francisco, office to notarize the SPA, bring it to the California Secretary of State, get it apostilled, and return it to you via FedEx Priority Overnight Service for $180.

If you need for us to travel to you, an additional fee may apply. We can also ship your document directly to the recipient in the Philippines via FedEx International Priority Service from Sacramento and send you a scan of the apostilled SPA to save time–for an additional fee. Shipping to the Philippines averages $50, but we require the name, address, and telephone number of the recipient in the Philippines in order to provide a firm shipping quote.

For a price quote, please send us an email message indicating whether you would like to meet in our office or the address of where you would like for our notary to travel to notarize the document and the return shipping information to [email protected]. Or you may also call us at +1 (415) 655-9455 to schedule an appointment to get your SPA apostilled.


Taiwan

Most California documents being legalized for use in Taiwan are processed through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco. Notarized documents must be accompanied by a signed Application Form for Authentication, a copy of your passport or driver’s license, and a business card. When filling out the application, please leave the content in the red box blank. That’s for us, acting as your agent. TECO charges $15 per document for two-day processing or $22.50 for one-day processing.

Note: federal documents (FBI background check, FDA, State Department, etc.) are authenticated at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, DC. In addition to the above documentation, the embassy requires a signed, notarized power of attorney allowing our agent in DC to act on your behalf. Please click here to download a template of this letter.

Please call us at +1 (415) 655-9455 before mailing any documents that need to be authenticated for Taiwan.

Whose signatures can be apostilled?

The California Secretary of State only authenticates signatures on documents that are issued in the State of California and are notarized by a commissioned notary public or any of the following public officials or their deputies:

  • County clerks or recorders
  • Court administrators of the Superior Court
  • Executive clerks of the Superior Court
  • Executive officers of the Superior Court
  • FBI officials
  • Judges of the Superior Court
  • State officials

Does an apostille validate the content of a document?

An apostille is not a guarantee of the truthfulness of document content, and it does not guarantee that the receiving country will approve the document. It is solely a certification that the official who signed and stamped the document (i.e., a notary public, county clerk, court official, etc.) is properly authorized to do so.

Do you offer pickup/shipping services for apostilles and legalizations?

Yes! We can pick up the documents in San Francisco and select Bay Area locations. We will notarize them if needed. Once the documents are apostilled or legalized, we can ship them back to you or send them directly to the receiving country.

How do I schedule an apostille?

Please call +1 (415) 655-9455 or email [email protected] to place an apostille order.

 

Disclaimer: Information on this website is for informational purposes only. SF Notary + Apostille is not a law firm, and its agents are not attorneys. Please contact a licensed attorney or your local bar association for counsel on legal matters.