Apostille of documents (Hague Convention countries)
Apostille ("ah-po-steel") is a simpler form of certification used by Hague Convetion countries.
In 1961, a group of countries created a simplified method of “legalizing” documents for use among Hague Convention countries. The United States government joined the convention on October 15, 1981. Now the apostille can be issed by the Secretary of States of all 50 states and the US Department of State.
China and Canada are not Hague Convention countries, thus documents to be used in China must follow the authentication procedures instead.
I. Apostille of documents: basic procedures
1. Prepare your document, then sign before a notary public, or obtain certified copy of the document from state agencies, federal government agencies, US consulates aboard.
2. Apostille by the Office of Secretary of State of the state issuing the document OR by the US Department of State
- Some states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland) require the notarized document to be sent to the notary public's county clerk for verification before presenting to the Office of Secretary of State.
- This step is usually completed by you -- we may not help with this step.
- If the document is a federal document, it will be apostilled by the US Department of State.
- We can help with this step.
II. Steps to apply for apostille of documents through YWPW
- Please fill out the online order form of our agency. Please specify the document to be apostilled under "US Department of State Authentication" or "Secretary of State Certification". Under "Document Name/Description", specify the country to be used, e.g. "Birth certificate (used in Spain)".
- Print the confirmation page.
You order ID, our mailing address, payment information (including credit card payment) and other
instructions are shown on the confirmation page.
- Mail us the documents listed in the "Documents needed" section below.
- Tell us the time and method
you mailed your documents, including tracking number, so that we can track the movement of your mail.
- Upon receiving your documents, we will check your application, and contact you if there is any issue. We then submit your application to the consulate, pick it up, and mail it back to you.
- We update your order status by email and online when we:
a). receive your documents; b). submit your application to the consulate;
c). pickup and mail back your documents.
We usually send emails and update status in the evening hours, but if there is anything goes wrong, we may contact you during the day.
III. Processing time and fees
- The US Department of State step takes about 1 week, and the DOS fee is $8 per document.
- The time for the Secretary of State apostille step varies, but normally 10-15 days. The SOS fee ranges from $2 to $25 per document.
- We charge a service fee of $56.96 per document (volume discount available if more than 2 documents).
Please note: the US Department of State and Offices of Secretary of State usually do not provide rush service.
IV. Documents needed for apostille
- YWPW order confirmation page.
- The "original" documents to be apostilled.
V. Questions and Answers
I have multiple documents, do I need to attach an application form for each document?
No. No matter how many documents, as long as they all belong to the same applicant, you only need to provide one authentication application form.
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