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Apostilles, Authentications & Legalizations

Home Corporate Services Good Standing Certificate and Document Retrieval Apostilles, Authentications & Legalizations

UCS provides nationwide apostille/legalization services for a variety of personal, corporate and academic documents.

Prior to 1961, if a corporation was required to provide documentation for use in another country they would be required to legalize that document at the state department, embassy and/or consulate of that country. The Hague Convention drafted the Apostille Treaty which abolished the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents. That means that any country (click here) that is party to the Apostille Treaty of the Hague Convention is no longer required to go through that process. Those countries allow the designated authority to attach an apostille. In the US, that would be the Secretary of State’s offices.

United Corporate Services can provide legalization and apostille services for documents that are needed by companies conducting business in any country regardless if that country is party to the Hague Convention or not.

The Apostille…

The apostille is a printed form (or sometimes a stamp) consisting of 10 numbered standard files, with information like the country of origin, signing party, date, etc.

The apostille is then attached to the public document being ‘authenticated’. Obtaining an apostille can be very simple in some jurisdictions and for some documents but for others it can be a timely and complex process. If done incorrectly it will cost you both time and money.

UCS has the experience and resources to process your document and return them to you in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Our services include:

  • Document pick up where available
  • Travelling Notary services
  • Apostille processing
  • Delivery of your document(s) once the process is completed

Processing options and times vary from state to state.

UCS can process your apostille or legalization quickly and easily.

Contact your Client Service Representative or email us at for details.


QuestionWhat is legalization and why would I need it?


Public documents, such as Good Standings, Articles of Incorporation, judgments, or notarial attestations (acknowledgments) of signatures, often are required to do business abroad. However, countries often require that a documents origin be authenticated before it is accepted for use in that country. This method of authentication is called legalization.

QuestionHow do I legalize my document?


The legalization process involves officials of the country where the document was issued as well as the foreign Embassy or Consulate of the country where the document is to be used. Because of this multistep authentication, the process is often slow, cumbersome and expensive. A large number of countries recognized this problem and joined a treaty that greatly simplifies the authentication of public documents to be used abroad.

QuestionWhat 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.

QuestionWhat does the Hague Convention have to do with legalization?


In 1961, various countries joined together in now what is now known as the Hague Convention and drafted the Apostille treaty. The United States joined in 1981. The treaty allows for an approved governmental agency to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an Apostille. For more information on The Hague please click here.

QuestionWhat if a country is not party to the Hague?


If the country of intended use is not party to the Hague Convention, documents being sent to that country can be “authenticated” or “certified” the traditional way.
The Office of the Secretary of State provides apostille and authentication services to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals on documents that will be used overseas.

QuestionWhat 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.

QuestionWho 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 may issue an Apostille on documents issued by persons on file with this agency, including county clerks, notaries public, and 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 is the clerk of the federal courts.

QuestionWhere can I get an Apostille Certificate?


The only place where you can receive this certification that allows documents to be used internationally is through the Department of State. Granted depending on the type of document we will need to get the notary authenticated prior to taking the documents to the Department of State.

QuestionWhat 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.

QuestionWhen do we use an apostille or legalize a document?


The decision on which process to use is based on whether the country where you intend to use your documents belongs to the Apostille Section of The Hague Convention. If that is the case then you only need to have an Apostille.

If the country where you intend to use your documents is not party to the Apostille Section of The Hague Convention, you will need what is known as an Embassy Legalization.

QuestionWhy do I need a Legalization or Authentication?


When a document is to be used in a foreign country, it may be necessary to have the document authenticated. An authentication certifies the signature and the capacity of the official who has executed the document. The authentication may also authenticate the seal of the official.

The New York Secretary of State authenticates public documents for use in foreign countries. Only public documents issued in New York State which are signed by either a State Official or a County Clerk will be authenticated. The country of destination determines whether the authentication is in the form of an “Apostille” or a “Certificate of Authentication.”

QuestionWhat’s type of documents are eligible for legalization?


Just about any document, ranging from Good Standing Certificates, court documents, birth and death certificates, diplomas and Powers of Attorney can be apostilled for use in another country.

QuestionWhat is a Certificate of Authentication?


A Certificate of Authentication is issued by the New York Secretary of State to authenticate a public document for use in any country which is not a member of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents.

QuestionWhat is a County Certification and in what instances is this required prior to taking the documents to the Department of State for an Apostille?


A County Certification is a certificate allocated by the County Clerk, which states that the notary public who signed the document is in fact who he/she say they are. At the County Clerk you can authenticate notary signatures for notaries who have qualified in that County or the signatures of public officials on documents.

All documents must be notarized by a notary public in order to be authenticated and legalized, or to receive apostille – except official, certified government issued documents.

QuestionWill I be able to get a document legalized for countries that are not party to The Hague?


Yes, you can get a legalized document for use in countries that are not party to The Hague. After getting the Certificate of Authentication by the Department of State, we would then take the extra step of going to the consulate/ embassy and getting the document legalized for a fee that varies by country.

QuestionHow long does it take to have a document apostilled or authenticated?


That depends on whether the country is part of the Hague. If it is, the process can be done within 24 hours and in some cases on the same day. If the country is not part of the Hague, it will depend on the Consulate. UCS can pick up and deliver your documents anywhere they need to go.

QuestionAfter the Certificate of Authentication why do some countries require you to visit their consulate/ embassy and some don’t?


Whichever country you would like to legalize documents for that is not a party to The Hague Convention of 1961, will require you to visit their consulate/ embassy for legalization after the Department of State certification but prior to the documents use in said country.

Consulate and embassy fees and turnaround times vary based on the country. Please note that if the country is not a party to The Hague, you will need to place your request with sufficient time in advance, since turnaround times can vary from 24 hours to a week depending on the country.