Legal Resources


Legal Resources

Requesting Authentication Services


You can request Authentication Services in three ways:

By Mail

When requesting Authentication Services via mail, please include the following:

  • A completed Request of Authentications Service DS-4194 form – Be sure to specify the document’s country of use in Section 4
  • Documents
  • Fees
  • A self-addressed prepaid envelope (FedEx not acceptable as of 02/01/2017)

Mail your complete packet to the following address:

Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
44132 Mercure Cir, P.O. Box 1206
Sterling, VA  20166-1206

Prior to submitting your packet, be sure to:

  • Verify whether a U.S. Department of State authentication certificate or an apostille is needed.
  • Plan ahead. The average processing time for mail-in requests is approximately twelve business days from the date of receipt by the Office of Authentications.
  • Ensure that you have reviewed the certification requirements for each of your document(s).
  • Include a self-addressed prepaid envelope which will be used to return your documents.
  • Using tracked mail delivery will expedite handling of your request by mailroom and may prevent damage to documents caused by irradiation of USPS regular mail.
  • When using tracked mail delivery, you will receive an update on when your mail has reached our mail distribution center, but not our physical office location.


  • On the DS-4194 in Section 4, the Country of Use for each document must be specified before the document can be processed. 
  • Please do not include Federal Express Ground or Home for the return of your documents as the Federal Express Company will not accept them from our office.

By Appointment

Hours: 10:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 2:30pm
            Monday through Friday 
(except federal holidays)

  • Limit one appointment per day 
  • The office will only offer the next available appointments to individuals submitting their personal documents. 
  • Third-party customers with emergency and/or urgent situation and are eligible to schedule an appointment based on the criteria chart below. 
  • Customers with appointments must appear in person at the Office of Authentications at the specified time of their scheduled appointment. 
  • Emergency and/or urgent requests must provide written documentation.
  • Direct support is provided to U.S. federal agencies.
  • Walk-in appointments are not accepted, appointments are for emergency cases only. 

Emergency Criteria:

  • Life-or-death emergencies including serious illness, injury, or death of individual or family member.

Urgent Criteria:

  • Proof of travel within 24-48 hours of submission.
  • Other urgent/emergency reasons for expediting the document request.



By Walking In

Drop-off and Pick-up Service

Hours: 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.
           Monday through Friday
 (except federal holidays)

Criteria for Drop-off Service:

  1. Complete form DS-4194 (be sure to include the country of use for each document).
  2. Customers are allowed one submission for drop-off services per day.
  3. Customers are limited to submitting 15 documents per submission.

Criteria for Pick-up Service:

  1. Pick-up slip.
  2. If paying with cash, the exact amount is required.
  3. A photo ID must be presented when using a credit card.

Please note:

  • Authentication staff will receive documents and perform only an initial review during this period.
  • The office will not accept requests which do not meet the criteria for Authentication or are missing supporting documentation for processing. An Authentications staff member will contact customers dropping off incomplete or ineligible requests.
  • Customers who drop off documents will receive a document receipt and a pick-up date at the time documents are received.
  • To claim your documents, please return between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on the cited date to pick up your completed certificate(s). You must have original document receipt.
  • Documents accepted during the drop-off time will be processed and available for pick-up between two to three business days.


General Fee Information
  • The authentication fee is $8.00 per document.
  • As of November 1, 2012, requests will not be processed without payment.
  • For all methods of payment, the exact amount is required.
  • Checks returned as insufficient funds will incur a $25.00 fee.

Payable by Cash
  • Cash is acceptable when using the pick-up service only.
  • When paying with cash, the exact amount is required.
  • Please do not send payment in the form of cash in the mail.

Payable by Check
  • Checks are acceptable using pick-up, appointment and mail-in services. 
  • Personal or company checks, and money orders must be submitted with mail-in document(s). 
  • Checks should be made payable to the U.S. Department of State.

Payable by Credit Card
  • Credit Card Payments are accepted for walk-in service only
  • Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express are accepted.