Apostilles, what are they, and how can you save the most money?

Apostilles, what are they, and how can you save the most money?

Apostilles, what are they, and how can you save the most money?

DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only and is not presented as or should be considered legal advice in any way. We are not licensed to provide legal advice.

If you are looking to work, live, get married, or set up business outside of the United States, and you are a U.S. Citizen, you may need an apostille. An apostille is a process to have your state and/or federally issued documents recognized by countries outside the United States. For instance, if you are applying for residency in Costa Rica, you will need to provide (at minimum) a birth certificate, a marriage certificate (if applicable), and possibly a criminal background check. The Costa Rican government will not accept these documents without an apostille certificate.

Depending on your Secretary of State and your country of destination, the certified copy of your vital record(s) (i.e., birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree) may need to be issued within a certain number of years. For instance, in Texas, you must have a certified copy that has been issued within the last five (5) years to have it successfully apostilled. Your county of destination may have a similar requirement. It is imperative (especially if you are in a time crunch) that you know and follow these requirements to have your document apostilled.

The issuing state of the document indicates which Secretary of State will need to apostille the document. A birth certificate issued in Maryland for a current Florida resident will need to be apostilled by the Maryland Secretary of State because the birth certificate was issued in Maryland. Similarly, a Texas birth certificate for a current California resident will need to be apostilled by the Texas Secretary of State. Federally issued documents, such as an FBI Background Check, must be apostilled at the Federal level. In these cases, the document is sent to the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. (Important note – the processing time for Federal documents can be 2-3 times longer than state processing times).

As you have read, obtaining a successfully apostilled document can have many moving parts and take many weeks or even months to complete. The more time you have to research, ask questions and gather documents, the more cost-efficient your apostille is. If you are thinking about working with a professional or are currently working with a legal professional, ask about the apostille process early in your case or consultation. Giving yourself 3-4 months instead of 3-4 weeks can translate to hundreds of dollars of savings for you. And while you can obtain an apostille on your own, carefully consider the coordination efforts and travel time required to achieve this goal. You may be surprised to learn that after contacting an apostille agent, you may save a significant amount of money, stress, and, most importantly, time (in case you aren’t finished packing yet! 😊)

Sweed Notary Services is here to smoothly navigate your apostille from start to finish in one successful step, and we are honored to be your “go-to” notary.

(** It is important to note that both the country that issued the document(s) (in this instance, the United States) and the country of destination for the document to be used must BOTH be a part of the HCCH Convention (aka Hague Convention) for the apostille to be issued by the Secretary of State. If the county of destination is NOT part of the HCCH (aka Hague Convention), the documents must go through a different process called authentication. This information has been presented for educational purposes only, we are not licensed to give legal advice. **)

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