What is an Apostille?
In short, an Apostille authenticates the signature of a public official on a document that is intended for use outside of the United States of America. An Apostille does not bear witness to the authenticity of the actual contents of the document, but rather to the authenticity of the signature of the official who signed the document and the authority in which that official acted. In essence, an Apostille is an extra step of precaution that is taken in order to ensure the integrity of the identity of the signatory and the officials certifying his or her identity.
For example, you have in your possession a document, such as a Power of Attorney, that has been issued by your company for use in an international document signing transaction. In order to obtain an Apostille for this particular document, you must first seek out a notary public who will verify your identity as the signatory and seal the document with an official notarial certificate and the stamp that was issued by the Secretary of State. Then, you must submit the officially notarized document to the County Clerk or Recorder to substantiate the fact that the notary public who verified your identity as the signatory is appropriately commissioned and in good standing with the state. Once this step is completed, you must submit the duly certified document to the Secretary of State in order to authenticate the signature of the County Clerk or Recorder. When all of these conditions are met, the Secretary of State will affix an Apostille to your original notarized document, thereby legalizing it for use in foreign countries. Again, the Apostille does not authenticate the contents of the document, but rather the integrity of the identity of the signatory and the officials certifying his or her identity.
What types of documents require an Apostille?
The following are common types of documents that ordinarily require an Apostille for use in another country:
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage Licenses
- Death Certificates
- Power of Attorney
- Background Check
- Papers for Adoption Purposes
- Certificates of Non-Marital Status
- Mortgage Loan and Real Estate Documents
- School Records, such as Diplomas and Transcripts
- Corporate Documents, such as Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Good Standing, Bylaws, Mergers, Amendments, etc.
History of the Apostille – The Hague Convention
The Apostille was established in 1961 by the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. At this conference, a number of countries gathered together to create a simple procedure for legalizing documents and agreed to recognize the Apostille as the method of authenticating foreign documents. Today, the Apostille is used for certifying foreign documents and is valid in countries that are in compliance with the provisions of the Hague Convention.
The nations involved in the Hague Convention are listed on the following website:
Apostille vs. Certificate
Put simply, member nations of the Hague Convention only require an Apostille. Non-member nations require further signature verification by means of a Certificate and possible authentication by the United States Department of State.
How do I obtain an Apostille in Los Angeles?
There are two ways of obtaining an Apostille in Los Angeles. You can follow the steps on your own or you can hire a mobile service to take care of the entire process for you. Getting an Apostille can be a daunting and complicated process, especially if you are not used to working within the parameters of what is required, but it can be done.
If you want to obtain an Apostille in Los Angeles on your own, you will need to contact the office of the California Secretary of State and ask what steps are required for the particular document you have in your hand. This may take quite some time on hold. You will also spend time on the phone as the employees advise you of the steps you need to take in order to complete the process successfully. The requirements vary by document. Once you have discerned what steps you need to take, you will spend most of the day following and fulfilling them. As long as you follow the steps correctly, it can, however, be done. It will simply take time and effort on your part. Whether you have that time or not is up to you.
For example, if you want to obtain an Apostille on a Power of Attorney document in Los Angeles, you need to contact a local notary and ask them to notarize your signature on the document. You can find a local notary on Yelp! or Google. Then, you need to take the notarized document to the County Clerk’s office in Norwalk, wait in line, and ask the County Clerk to verify that the notary who notarized your document is commissioned and in good standing with the State of California. The County Clerk’s office is located at 12400 Imperial Highway, Norwalk, CA 90650. You can reach them at (800) 815-2666. After that, you need to take the notarized, certified document to the California Secretary of State office in Los Angeles, wait in line, and ask one of the state employees to affix an Apostille. The California Secretary of State office is located at 300 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013-1260. You can reach them at (213) 897-3062.
As you can see, obtaining an Apostille is a daunting and complicated process. The steps listed in the example above are guidelines for one type of document. Each type of document carries with it a different set of rules. If you do not want or need to become an expert in the Apostille process and what it entails for each type of document and, if you do not have an extravagant amount of time to spend driving around Los Angeles in order to meet the various requirements that need to be met before the California Secretary of State office in Los Angeles will affix an Apostille to your document, it is more cost-effective, time saving, and better all around to contact a reputable and professional mobile Apostille and notary service in Los Angeles. You can find reviews on Yelp! and Google that will assist you in selecting the best service for your needs.