Apostille FAQs

Question mark on chalkboard representing apostille FAQ page
Not sure what an apostille is or how the process works? Scroll down for our apostille FAQs or call +1 (415) 655-9455 to talk with us directly.

What is an apostille?

An apostille, according to the California Secretary of State, “is a certificate that authenticates the signature of a public official on a document for use in another country. An Apostille certifies:

  • the authenticity of the signature of the public official who signed the document,
  • the capacity in which that public official acted, and
  • when appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears, e.g. a notary public seal.

The Apostille does not validate the contents of the document.”

What is the Hague Apostille Convention?

As the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) explains, “The Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (HCCH 1961 Apostille Convention) facilitates the use of public documents abroad. The purpose of the Convention is to abolish the traditional requirement of legalisation, replacing the often long and costly legalisation process with the issuance of a single Apostille certificate by a Competent Authority in the place where the document originates.”

Which countries have signed the Hague Apostille Convention?

As of February 2024, 128 countries have joined the Hague Apostille Convention. Accordingly, any of these countries should accept the apostille on your document:

🇦🇱 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
🇨🇦 Canada
🇨🇻 Cape Verde
🇨🇱 Chile
🇨🇳 China
🇨🇴 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*
🇮🇩 Indonesia
🇮🇪 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
🇵🇰 Pakistan
🇵🇼 Palau
🇵🇦 Panama
🇵🇾 Paraguay
🇵🇭 Philippines
🇵🇪 Peru
🇵🇱 Poland
🇵🇹 Portugal
🇷🇴 Romania
🇷🇺 Russia
🇷🇼 Rwanda**
🇰🇳 Saint Kitts and Nevis
🇱🇨 Saint Lucia
🇻🇨 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

🇼🇸 Samoa
🇸🇲 San Marino
🇸🇹 São Tomé and Príncipe
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
🇸🇳 Senegal
🇷🇸 Serbia
🇸🇨 Seychelles
🇸🇬 Singapore
🇸🇰 Slovakia
🇸🇮 Slovenia
🇿🇦 South Africa
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇪🇸 Spain
🇸🇷 Suriname
🇸🇿 Swaziland (Eswatini)
🇸🇪 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

** Rwanda has signed the Hague Convention, but its membership will not enter force until 5 June 2024

What about other countries?

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

How long does an apostille take?

The processing time for a California apostille is one to two business days. We also offer US State Department apostille service in as little as three weeks. Please call us at +1 (415) 655-9455 to discuss your document(s).

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, health officers, and 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. As a matter of fact, 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 I need to be in California to get the apostille?

This is one of the top apostille FAQs we get, and the answer is: sometimes. It is true that certain documents require notarization in order to be apostilled. In this case, you will need to sign in front of a notary public. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, our mobile notaries can come to your location to notarize your document, and then take it to be apostilled.

Contrarily, other documents–such as academic records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates–do not require your presence. We will let you know whether or not you need to be present once we know the scope of your apostille needs.

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 for an additional fee. We will notarize them if needed. After apostille and/or legalization, we can ship them back to you or send them directly to the receiving country.

Thanks for these apostille FAQs. Now how do I schedule an apostille?

Ready to schedule or still have questions after reading these apostille FAQs? Please call +1 (415) 655-9455 or email [email protected].

Disclaimer: Information on this website is for informational purposes only. These instructions are based on our knowledge and experience and are meant to be helpful; however, they might contain errors. Please let us know if you encounter mistakes so that we can promptly correct them. 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.