Apostille and Authentication Certificates
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 a complete 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 public's, 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 Louisiana state accredited university registrars, presidents, deans, etc.
In order to provide that certification, the Louisiana Department of State will need the following information:
A written request for the apostille or certificate stating the country to which the document will be sent. Our office will determine which authentication is appropriate for the receiving documents. Please include a daytime telephone number. See Authentication Request Form.
The original notarized document, with the printed name of the notary underneath his/her signature, must accompany the request form.
The notarization must fully comply with Louisiana Notary Law or the document will be returned for correction. We do not accept photocopies of birth or death certificates.
To order a copy of your birth certificate, see Vital Records Registry.
The fee is $20 per certificate issued, except for adoptions which are $10 per certificate.
Always use our physical address when using FedEX, UPS, DHL, etc.:
Louisiana Secretary of State Commissions Division 8585 Archives Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70809
We do not pay for courier service. You must provide a pre-paid mailing envelope or a completed return label with the customer's account number for us to have the certified documents returned by courier service. Do not list or show the Secretary of State name or address on the return label.
For regular mail, use the following address:
Louisiana Secretary of State Commissions Division P.O. Box 94125 Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
Walk-in customers are also welcomed. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For additional information, call 225.922.0330.