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Authentication of Documents - Frequently Asked Questions

The answers to our Frequently Asked Questions are provided for informational purposes and are not intended to provide legal advice or to substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you have specific legal questions, consult your attorney.

  1. What is an Apostille?
  2. What does an Apostille do?
  3. Who issues Apostilles?
  4. What kind of documents do I need an Apostille for?
  5. How do I get an Apostille?
  6. If I have two documents issued by the same authority, do I need two Apostilles?
  7. What is the guidance about the propriety of authenticating or legalizing certain notarized documents as provided by the U.S. Department of State?
  8. My receipt for mail delivered to the Secretary of State shows TPASS/CPA signed for it, is this correct?
  9. What if my documents need to be translated?
  10. Will you issue a Apostille on a document where the stamp of office is not affixed?
  11. What if my school records need to be authenticated?
  12. Where can I obtain more information about Apostilles?
  1. What is an Apostille?

    An Apostille is a form of certification set out in the 1961 Hague Convention, to which the United States became a subscriber in 1981. It is a form of numbered fields, which allows the data to be understood by the receiving country regardless of the official language of the issuing country.

  2. What does an Apostille do?

    The object of the Apostille is to "abolish the requirement of diplomatic or consular legalization for foreign public documents". The completed Apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, and identifies the seal/stamp which the document bears.

  3. Who issues Apostilles?

    Each subscribing nation may designate those authorities which may issue Apostilles for their jurisdiction. The United States has appointed the Secretary of State (or their counterpart) of the various states as said authority. The Secretary of State of Texas has expanded this authorization to include the Deputy Secretary of State and the division directors.

    The Secretary of State of Texas may issue an Apostille on documents issued by persons on file with this agency, including county clerks, notaries public, statewide officials. Recently issued birth/death certificates issued by locals registrars must have been issued within the past three (3) years in order for the Secretary of State to issue an Apostille.

    The competent authority for issuance of Apostilles on documents issued by the federal government are the clerks of the federal courts.

  4. What kind of documents do I need an Apostille for?

    The Apostille may be obtained to transmit public documents executed in one subscribing country to another subscribing country wherein the documents need to be produced. The Hague Convention defines 'public documents' as:

    1. those originating in a court, clerk of a court, public prosecutor or process server,
    2. administrative documents,
    3. notarial acts,
    4. official certificates placed on documents

    These types of 'public documents' would include birth/death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, school transcripts and diplomas/degrees, among others.

  5. How do I get an Apostille?

    A request for an Apostille may be made in person or through the mail. The document(s) will be handled by the appropriate division within this agency. Requests for corporate documents requiring an Apostille should be directed to the Corporations Section. Requests for Apostille on documents executed before a Texas notary public, documents issued by statewide officials (such as the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, district judges, motor vehicle custodian of records, etc.), and recently issued certified copies by county officials and local registrars should be submitted to the Authentications Unit.

    Along with the document(s), please provide us with the name of the country to which the document(s) will be transmitted.

    There is a statutory fee of $15.00 per Apostille being requested unless the Apostille is requested for use in adoption proceedings. If the Apostille is requested for use in proceedings related to an adoption, the fee is $10.00 per Apostille, and the total fees may not exceed $100.00 for the adoption of each child. Checks and money orders should be in favor of the 'Secretary of State of Texas'. This office also accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards (PDF).

    A self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of the document(s) and Apostille must be included with the request. If overnight mail service is required, a pre-addressed, prepaid airbill and envelope must be included.

    Walk-In Service

    Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday (call for holiday hours)

    Processing time is dependent on the number of Walk-In customers
    and the number of documents being processed.

    Mail-In Service

    Please allow at least ten (10) business days for processing any request received by mail.

    Our office does not offer expedited service for mail-in requests. The use of overnight mail service does not expedite processing time.

    Street Address P.O. Box Address
    Corporations Section:
    Corporations Section:
    (512) 463-5555
    Secretary of State
    Corporations Section
    1019 Brazos, B-13
    Austin, TX 78701
    Walk-In Service: Room 105
    Secretary of State
    Corporations Section
    P.O. Box 13697
    Austin, TX 78711-3697
    Authentications Unit:
    Authentications Unit:
    (512) 463-5705
    Secretary of State
    Authentications Unit
    1019 Brazos, B-13
    Austin, TX 78701
    Walk-In Service: Room 105
    Secretary of State
    Authentications Unit
    P.O. Box 13550
    Austin, TX 78711-3550
  6. If I have two documents issued by the same authority, do I need two Apostilles?

    This is a question that should be directed to the authorities in the country in which the documents will be deposited.

  7. What is the guidance about the propriety of authenticating or legalizing certain notarized documents as provided by the U.S. Department of State?

    The Apostille does not provide any form of immunity. It is inappropriate to place the Apostille certificate on a document that suggests that the Apostille has such an effect. Moreover, the Apostille should not be placed on any document by state Secretaries of State or Notary Public Administrators if the document is intended for use in the United States or in a country not party to the Hague Legalization Convention. It is only for documents to be used in countries that are party to the Convention. See the Hague Conference on Private International Law web site for a current list of countries where the Convention is in force.

  8. My receipt for mail delivered to the Secretary of State shows TPASS/CPA signed for it, is this correct?

    Yes, this office has an interagency agreement with the Comptroller of Public Accounts (Texas Procurement and Support Services) to pick-up and sign for agency mail.

  9. What if my documents need to be translated?

    If a document needs to be translated then a notary would witness the translator's signature on the translation and the document being translated would be submitted along with the notarized translation for authentication.

  10. Will you issue a Apostille on a document where the stamp of office is not affixed?

    No, the Apostille that is issued states on it that the document bears the stamp of office so therefore the stamp needs to be on the document itself.

  11. What if my school records need to be authenticated?

    The school records presented for authentication must be notarized. Follow one of these procedures:

    1. Notarization of ORIGINAL school records would require you to have the school official sign an affidavit in the presence of the notary public.
    2. For notarization of a PHOTOCOPY of the original school record, the owner of the original document must sign an affidavit on the photocopy, in the presence of the notary public. In either case, the notary must complete the appropriate notarial certificate acknowledging the date the signer appeared before him/her.
  12. Where can I obtain more information about Apostilles?

    The “Apostille Section” of the Hague Conference website includes the electronic version of the “ABCs of Apostilles” – a brochure that provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and its operation. Click here to access the Apostille Section and the “ABCs of Apostilles”. Brochure prepared by the Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and reproduced with its permission.