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Representatives from various nations met on Oct. 5, 1961 at the Hague in Holland to discuss international law. At this meeting, the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (known as the "Hague Convention") was formed. Since then, more than 60 countries have joined the Hague Convention, including the United States of America. A designated official from each country, or subdivision of that country, is responsible for authenticating notarized documents.

Documents which are notarized and forwarded to another country require verification or legalization of the notary's signature and official title prior to their acceptance by the foreign embassy or consulate of that country. The treaty allows the issuance of a single document known as an "apostille," a French word meaning "note." Non-member countries receive a "Certificate of Authentication." Both fully entitle the notarized document to be recognized by the foreign country. View acomplete list of foreign countries that require apostille certificates. All other countries use the Certificate of Authentication.

What are the effects of an apostille?

An apostille only certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document and the capacity in which it was done.

Apostilles do not certify the content of the public document to which it relates. They do not grant authority and they do not give any additional weight to the content of the underlying documents. An apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued. Apostilles are strictly for use of public documents abroad.Apostilles will not be issued for documents intended for use within the United States.

One of the many functions of the Louisiana Department of State is to issue apostilles and authentication certificates. Our office certifies the signature of the acknowledging Louisiana official e.g., notary publics, clerks of court, deputy clerks of court, ex-officio notary, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, judges, justices of the peace and the registrar of vital records which are affixed to State of Louisiana documents only. We also certify official transcripts and diplomas signed by Lousiana state accredited university registrars, presidents, deans, etc. and transcripts and diplomas signed by the Louisiana high school superintendents

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