Moving to Mexico: A Look at Apostilles

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

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.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

40 Comments on "Moving to Mexico: A Look at Apostilles"

  1. First I’ve heard of it – and my wife moved to this country 25 years ago. Now I’m moving there (Mexico)! Thanks for all the good info.

  2. Last week I received apostilled copies of my birth certificate from Tennessee. The cost for the certified certificates were $15 each and the cost for the apostille was only and additional $2 each. I learned about the possible need for apostilled documents in a FB group so went ahead and did it in preparation for my application for perm res next year not knowing if the consulate will ask for it or not. I thought even if the consulate does NOT ask, someone somewhere in my Mexico travels might, and it certainly was a lot easier to handle while still in the US versus out of the country. Thanks for the blog and all the information – my move to Mexico will be easier thanks to you and Linda!

    • Qroo Paul | June 19, 2019 at 7:36 am |

      That’s a good idea. I did the same thing because I’m a planner. I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  3. Mark in Merida | June 19, 2019 at 7:20 am |

    Extremely helpful — And for those of us from “old country” that are from Washington, District of Columbia, the link to the Secretary of State is: https://os.dc.gov/service/authentications

  4. Is an apostille the same as having a document notarized by a notary or conformed by a court or does it have to come from a specific state agency?

    • Qroo Paul | June 19, 2019 at 8:14 am |

      It is different than a notary. It is a specific procedure approved created by the Hague Convention of 1961. It will ensure that the document is accepted as authentic by a participating foreign nation. If you choose to go another route, they may or may not accept the document.

      Yes, apostilles are only issued by specific state and federal agencies.

  5. We needed to get an apostille for our wedding certificate when we moved here and purchased a home. It was in English, but had to be translated into Spanish according to the attorney here. I don’t know if that is still a requirment.

  6. Susan K Sasek | June 19, 2019 at 8:07 am |

    Great info. I had no idea. Does the apostille expire? I am thinking I should get started since we are looking at a move in a few years. I know that marriage and birth certificates are both mentioned. Any other document needed?

    • Qroo Paul | June 19, 2019 at 8:11 am |

      No, the apostille doesn’t expire. It just certifies that the document that it accompanies is authentic. However, some countries may request that apostilles are done within a certain period of time of applying (e.g. 6 months). It’s better to contact the particular consulate and ask what their requirements are before wasting your time.

  7. Gerald Andres | June 19, 2019 at 8:30 am |

    Another great article, thanks, especially for the listing of State and Federal offices.

  8. I had to get one for my purchase in TAO (The document, not a Saint). Our very experienced Paralegal in the US even had to look the word up to see what it meant. She just hadn’t any experience with foreign transactions. Getting one was easy, and pretty quick, considering we had to mail off a request and a cashiers check for it. Thanks for the links, that will make it easy next time I need one (I hope NEVER again) and can’t remember how I did it before…

  9. Robert Peek | June 19, 2019 at 9:35 am |

    Had to get one for my marriage in ACA. Funny thing, They needed my Pennsylvania Birth Certificate with parents name listed, and that document apostilled. Even though the two offices were near each other, I couldn’t pay someone to pick up the birth certificate and walk it over to the other office. Had to be sent to me here in Texas then sent back to PA, then back to me in TX then I had to DHL it to ACA. Fortunately the judge in ACA was patient and was able to wait until after the ceremony for the paperwork

  10. Conan Dunham | June 19, 2019 at 9:55 am |

    The Phoenix Consulate did not require this.

  11. Mike Duffey | June 19, 2019 at 10:25 am |

    My first year renewal is due in October, I’ll be in Guadalajara, I was told to start in September, hopefully the process is easier than the first time.

    • Qroo Paul | June 20, 2019 at 7:16 am |

      In our case, it was identical to the first time — meaning the part when we arrived in Mexico. They even wanted a new photo and fingerprints.

  12. Hari K. Carr | June 19, 2019 at 10:35 am |

    I am a US citizen originally from Indonesia and my husband is from England. We were married in Indonesia, which is not a member of the Hague apostille group. We were lucky to find a Mexican consulate that didn’t ask for a marriage certificate. Going forward, how does an Indonesian get anything apostilled?

    Because I was born during the war, I don’t have a birth certificate either, only “a Statement of Birth,” obtained when I was a teenager. Any idea how to solve this? Thanks so much in advance.

    Hari Carr

    • Qroo Paul | June 20, 2019 at 7:19 am |

      I don’t have the answer to that one. If you’re really curious, you could email the Mexican Embassy in Indonesia and ask what the procedures are for document authentication.

  13. Chris McGinty | June 19, 2019 at 10:40 am |

    Interesting. I knew it existed because of my permanent residency but I didn’t know the details. Thank you Paul.

  14. Janelle DeStasio | June 19, 2019 at 11:06 am |

    Since we will become residents after the first of the year, I better get started on this. Do you think we will be safe if apostille our birth certificates and marriage license? Are there any other documents we should apostille? Thank you so much for this information. Another thing to do and check off our list.

    • Qroo Paul | June 20, 2019 at 7:20 am |

      Personally, I wouldn’t bother to get anything apostilled without checking with the Mexican consulate where you plan to apply. In many cases, they don’t even ask for that.

  15. Being from Canada the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver told me, that I needed to have our marriage license apostille in the country we were married in, Saint Lucia then because I was married previously I would have to have my divorce apostille and my birth certificate bringing my name all the way back to my birth name. I tried to search how to get it done in Saint Lucia as they are not apart of the Hague Convention either. Decided to qualify separate from my husband less paperwork for step one. Step two will start in late July assuming we are approved by the Vancouver Consulate next week. All very exciting! Note: This isn’t the first time getting married in a different country has caused way more paperwork and time.

  16. Bob Knight | June 19, 2019 at 12:32 pm |

    16 years ago a week before I was ready to leave to start our new life in Mexico, I realized I still needed to have our birth certificates apostilled. I was in Minnesota so I went to the Secretary of State Office. Wow was I shocked when I learned that since my birth certificate was from New York it could not be done in Minnesota. The clerk was very helpful. She gave us paper and told us to write that the documents were true and original. She then notarized that then had Secretary of State apostille that. Got to Mexico and began the process of applying for what was then an FM3. I was worried about the birth certificates being okay. Well they were. I think the new system of Temp then Permanent the is great. I had to have an FM3 renewed very year for 4 years then an FM2 renewed yearly for 4 years before I could apply for permanent residency. I guess they wanted to be sure we really wanted to live here.

  17. David Rattray | June 19, 2019 at 1:38 pm |

    OMG………..you mean the large amount of money I paid to have my Birth Certificate and other documents translated and certified into Spanish for my marriage to a Mexican Nation was all for not……please tell me this isn’t so……UGGGG

    • Qroo Paul | June 20, 2019 at 7:25 am |

      In your case, you may end up needing those. It sounds like you’ll know soon enough. 🙂

  18. I couldn’t seem to find the address or website for my state’s center, so thanks for the link!

  19. Marc Feinstein | June 19, 2019 at 3:56 pm |

    FYI–the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul, MN did NOT require Apostilles for any documents when we were there last week (June 10) presenting our documents for permanent residency.

  20. I had to change the Trustee on my bank property trust plus change my beneficiary. Due to the inability of my former husband to sign or cooperate, I used an Apostille in California to facilitate the change. It was time consuming. When the entire thing was complete to the bank’s satisfaction, the package was sent to the Mexican Federal Govt. for final approval.

  21. williaro99 | June 19, 2019 at 7:04 pm |

    Extremely timely Paul – As I am in Florida, I will do what you indicated (then see about trying to FedEx it down to Playa office where my deed is being processed for TAO title). Ron

  22. Timely article Paul. Motivated me to go Thursday morning to St. Paul MN to get my documents Apostille (turning into an adventure … had to leave documents). Hope I can pick-up tomorrow. Got a Monday appointment with the Mexican Consulate in St. Paul for Permanent Residency. Excited. Just sold my house. My dream is becoming a reality. Thank You so much Paul & Linda for the great articles. These articles are valuable life-lines to making my dream reality. Thank You!!!

  23. Thanks for your great posts! So glad I found you all! Random but somewhat related question. I’m married but didn’t take my husband’s last name. I’m wondering if that might be an issue at some point as we become residents. Have you heard of anyone having issues with that? Thanks!

    • Qroo Paul | June 23, 2019 at 8:59 am |

      We have a neighbor in a similar situation. They had to have the marriage certificate apostilled, but other than that, it hasn’t created any issues for them.

  24. Rob Wilson | July 8, 2019 at 11:23 pm |

    Good stuff Paul. Christi and I are on our way! See you in September.

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