Readers of the blog often ask me about apostilles — and if you’ve never heard the word before, you’re not alone. It’s one of those words that most Americans only learn when they start to review the requirements to obtain foreign residency or study abroad.
An apostille is a form of authentication that accompanies certified copies of official documents (e.g. birth certificates, marriage licenses) so they will be recognized for legal purposes in countries who are members of the Hague Convention of 1961.
Both the United States and Mexico are participating members, but Canada is not. Our Canadian readers will have to follow a different procedure. You can learn more about it HERE.
For a complete list of the countries who are members of the Hague Convention of 1961, click HERE.
When and How to Get One
If you are applying for Mexican residency, the Mexican consulate may require that copies of important documents such as birth certificates and marriage certificates to be apostilled.
I’m stressing the word may in that last sentence because this requirement seems to differ from one Mexican consulate to the next. The best thing to do is to email the consulate where you plan to apply and ask them what documentation they require.
So, let’s say you’ve done all that and now you need to obtain an apostille for, let’s say, your marriage license issued in Florida. In Florida, the Secretary of State has tasked the Division of Corporations with issuing apostilles.
All you have to do is fill out a form, mail them the form and the document to be certified — along with a check for about $20 bucks — and they will mail you back the document with an an official looking apostille.
Depending on the type of documents that you need to get apostilled, you might have to contact multiple states and follow the procedures for each one to get all of the documents you need.
To make things easier for you, I’ve taken the liberty of including apostille links for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government.
Links to for U.S. State and Federal Apostilles
- U.S. federal documents
- District of Columbia
- Iowa (scroll down to Certifications and Other Copies)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Let’s Wrap This Up
I’m currently in the old country — that’s how Linda and I commonly refer to the U.S. since moving to Mexico — so I decided to test my theory that very few Americans are familiar with the word apostille.
I spend a lot of time at Starbucks in the U.S. because the Internet connection where I am staying is not as reliable as my connection in Mexico.
I know! Crazy, huh?!
Anyway, over the last week or so, I’ve been striking up conversations with random java drinkers and asking them if they know what an apostille is.
At first, everyone thought I was saying apostle. One gentleman even asked, “Do you mean John, Mark etc? Jesus’ friends?”
I decided to make it clearer and I started showing people the word on my phone.
That really didn’t help at all. Many of them still thought the word was apostles — not a good testament to the effectiveness of our school systems — and the rest of the folks just said that they didn’t know.
I guess that makes apostilles a good, albeit boring, topic for a blog article.