Document Authentication &
Legalization Services



Documents that are notarized and sent to another country require verification or legalization of the notary's signature and official capacity prior to acceptance by the receiving country. The Hague Convention agreement simplifies the process by allowing the attachment of a single verifying certificate called an Apostille (a French word meaning "note"). The Apostille entitles the document to full recognition in the country of intended use, and no further authentication or legalization by the Embassy or Consulate of that country is required. Each country, or subdivision of that country, has a designated official who is responsible for authenticating notarized documents. The treaty provides a list of officials in the United States with the authority to issue such certifications. In most states (47 out of 50), that authority is vested in the Secretary of State, or one or more of his or her deputies or assistants. Since the treaty came into force for the United States in October 1981, the Florida Secretary of State has been responsible for providing Apostilles for documents notarized in Florida and sent to another country.

Documents destined for countries participating in an International Treaty called the Hague Convention require an Apostille, and that requirement shall be determined by the Secretary of State.  Documents being sent to another state or a country not participating in the Hague Convention may also require certification. In that case, a Certificate of Notarial Authority is issued by the Florida Secretary of State.

The Florida Secretary of State will provide an Apostille or Certificate for:


US Department of State Authentications

The Department of State, Authentications Office is responsible for signing and issuing certificates under the Seal of the U.S. Department of Sate (22 CFR, Part 131) providing authentication services to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals on documents that will be used overseas. It also ensures that the requested information will serve in the interest of justice and is not contrary to U.S. policy.

Authentication Requirements:

All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied with a certified (notarized) English translation. If a copy of a document is used, it must include the statement that is a true and accurate copy.

General (Personal) Documents
   Diplomas, Power-of-Attorney, Agreements, Bylaws, Transcripts, Deeds of Assignments, etc.

  1. All seals and signatures must be originals and all dates must follow in chronological order.
  2. Acknowledged before a notary public;
  3. Certified by the Secretary of State of the State in which the document is executed (see above).

State and Local Documents and Court Records
   Birth, Marriage, Death Certificates and Court Files (Divorce Decrees, Probate Will, Judgments etc.)

  1. Certified originals by the custodian of those records;
  2. Certified documents by the Secretary of State of the State in which the documents are recorded (see above).


Embassy and Consulate Legalization

For documents that are to be used in countries that are not party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, then a Chain of Authentication is applied that eventually includes Legalization by the appropriate Embassy or Consulate of the country of intended use.  Because Legalization requirements vary from country to country, the requirements for each country will not be listed here.  Additionally, not all foreign country legalizations can be performed by PAW Financial & Notary Services. 


The Process

In order to provide Apostille Authentication and Legalization services, the following process and documents are required.