Marriage Certificate Apostille – Legalization – Authentication | Call +1 (415) 655-9455

Marriage Certificate Apostille and Authentication Service

A bride holding a bouquet, representing a marriage certificate apostilleIf you need an apostilled marriage certificate, we can help you get it. This page describes the apostille process and the steps to follow.

What is a marriage certificate?

A marriage certificate is a vital record issued by a government agency that records the marriage of two adults. Marriage certificates are often used to prove eligibility for things like insurance payouts and government and employment benefits.

The term “marriage certificate” is used to identify either the original or a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

People sometimes confuse a marriage certificate with a marriage license, but they are different documents. A marriage license is a document obtained from the county recorder before you get married. A marriage certificate is a document issued after the marriage ceremony that proves you’re married. Marriage certificates are eligible for apostille certification, while marriage licenses are not.

What is a marriage certificate apostille?

A marriage certificate apostille is a Hague Convention apostille (a.k.a. Secretary of State apostille) that authenticates a marriage certificate so that it can be legally recognized in foreign countries. Apostilled marriage certificates are often required when applying for immigration, visa, dual citizenship, and estate and other legal matters.

The California Secretary of State (CA SOS) apostille process requires submission of either the original or a certified copy of the marriage certificate. Firstly, a CA SOS staff member reviews the certificate for eligibility and verifies the signature of the County official who signed it. Next, if all is in order, the CA SOS staff member will staple a numbered paper apostille certificate to the marriage certificate. And finally, the apostille is bound to the certificate using a red circular stamp that is half on the apostille and half on the marriage certificate. Our service expedites completion of this process in one to two business days.

Countries that are not members of the Hague Apostille Convention (such as Thailand, the UAE, or Vietnam) require additional embassy or consulate authentication and often U.S. State Department authentication. We will detail the services required and the timeline for obtaining any additional authentication services you need in our price quote (see Step 4).

How Do I Obtain Marriage Certificate Apostille?

Follow these steps to help us obtain an apostilled marriage certificate for you as quickly as possible.

Example of current format of SF marriage certificate1. Confirm that the marriage certificate is eligible for an apostille

Skip to the next step if you need to order a marriage certificate.

Marriage certificates issued in any of California’s 58 counties are eligible for California Secretary of State apostilles. Although we mainly focus on obtaining CA SOS apostilles for clients, if you have a marriage certificate issued outside of California, we might be able to help you. Please email [email protected] with details or call +1 (415) 655-9455 to discuss.

California periodically revises the format of marriage certificates to add new security features that help protect the public against fraud and identity theft. The current format is shown here. The CA SOS may reject marriage certificates in retired formats if they are presented for apostille certification.

A valid original or certified copy of a California marriage certificate will have the following features:

  • Full color (mostly blue)
  • County seal
  • Signature of the County official near the bottom right corner
  • Certificate issue date near the bottom left corner

In our experience, requesting overseas parties will usually reject self-certified/notarized photocopies and older certified copies of marriage certificates, even if the CA SOS attaches an apostille to the notarized photocopy. In addition, informational marriage certificates are not eligible for apostille certification.

2. Obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate if needed

You can obtain a certified copy of a marriage certificate in person, or you can order one online or by mail. Please choose the relevant Bay Area County below for detailed instructions. For other California counties, please contact the county directly for ordering instructions.

Please note that if you order a marriage certificate online or through the mail, it can take several weeks for your application to be processed and the certificate to be delivered to you. If you need your marriage certificate quickly, and your are not able to pick it up in person, we can retrieve it for you from the Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, or Santa Clara County office for an additional fee. Please email [email protected] or call +1 (415) 655-9455 to learn more about this option. See the FAQs at the end of this page for additional information.

San Francisco County           Alameda County           San Mateo County

3. Email us for a price quote

In order to get a quick price quote, email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Your name, telephone number, and current physical location
  • The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the person to whom we will ship the apostilled marriage certificate
  • The destination country (e.g. France)
  • The physical location of the marriage certificate, ordering status (if you ordered one), or your need for assistance obtaining a marriage certificate
  • A statement about whether the marriage certificate is confidential or non-confidential

We will respond with a price quote without delay. Once we’ve agreed upon a price, we will send you an invoice and start the apostille/authentication process.

4. Send the marriage certificate to us (when applicable)

If you are shipping us a certified copy or recent original of a marriage certificate and we have given you the green light to proceed, please send the marriage certificate to:

SF Notary + Apostille Sacramento
2511 Carlsbad Ave
Sacramento, CA 95821

If you are including payment by check or money order, please make it payable to “AMN SF, LLC.”

5. We’ll take it from there

As soon as we have the marriage certificate, we will obtain an apostille from the Secretary of State in Sacramento. If you need the marriage certificate authenticated for a non-Hague apostille country, we will obtain the extra legalization. In either case, once it’s properly authenticated, we will ship the marriage certificate to you or the specified recipient.

We use FedEx Priority Overnight Service for USA destinations and FedEx International Priority Service for overseas destinations. Moreover, for any document shipped overseas, we will also send you a scan of the apostilled marriage certificate for your records.

Frequently Asked Questions about California Marriage Certificate Apostilles

Can I get an apostille on a photocopy of a California marriage certificate?

Although the California Secretary of State will issue an apostille on a signed and properly notarized statement written directly on a photocopy of a marriage certificate or on a separate page attached to a photocopy of a marriage certificate, the requesting party overseas will often reject marriage certificates that are certified this way. Please confirm with the requesting party whether or not they will accept a self-certified photocopy.

Can I get an apostille on an informational marriage certificate?

Informational marriage certificates that bear a disclaimer—such as “INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY”—are not eligible for CA SOS apostille certification. You will need to obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

What if it’s a confidential marriage certificate?

The process for obtaining certified copies of confidential and non-confidential marriage certificates can be different. In some counties, they are handled by separate departments. Prior to placing your order, double-check whether or not the marriage certificate is confidential.

What if the marriage certificate is old?

Recipients may reject older marriage certificates. Check with the requesting party to ensure that the issue date on the marriage certificate (found near the bottom left corner) is recent enough for your matter. Clients have reported that their marriage certificates were rejected because they were older than six months or a few years.

Whose marriage certificate can I order?

California marriage certificates are not public record, so only certain individuals are authorized to obtain a certified copy. You can generally request a copy of your own marriage certificate and those of your spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, and certain extended family members.

In addition, you can also give authority to a third party by power of attorney or other legal instrument to obtain one of these marriage certificates on your behalf.

What if I’m located outside of the county, state, or country?

If you are located outside of the county in which the child was born or you don’t have time to run to the county office to obtain a marriage certificate, you can order a certified copy of the marriage certificate online or via mail and have it shipped to yourself or a third party (which could be SF Notary + Apostille). Please email [email protected] or call +1 (415) 655-9455 to discuss.

Please note that online and mail-in applications usually require notarization of the applicant’s signature. If you are in another county or state, you can visit your local notary public in person or have your signature notarized using a remote online notary service. If you are outside of the country, you might have to visit a US notary at the US Embassy in person or use a remote online notarization service. Regardless of your location, we can help to arrange an electronic notarization—please contact us for more information.

How long does a marriage certificate take to arrive?

Online and mail-in marriage certificate application processing times often exceed several weeks (we’ve recently seen quotes of six weeks on county websites). In contrast, a faster option is to have an authorized family member, your attorney, or us pick up the marriage certificate. In general, we can obtain the certified copy within a couple of business days.

If you want us to pick it up, you will need to execute a limited power of attorney granting us authority to retrieve the marriage certificate on your behalf. Generally, this will require you to appear before a notary public in person or remotely using a remote online notarization service, which we can help arrange. Please contact us to discuss.

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.