Notarial and Authentication Services of U.S. Consular Officers Abroad

DISCLAIMER

The information in this circular is provided for general information only.  For questions concerning admissibility of documents executed abroad see appropriate federal and state statutes.  Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel.

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How do you get a document notarized overseas?

Notarizing officers at any United States Embassy or Consulate abroad can provide notarial services similar to the functions of a notary public in the United States. It is also possible to have a document notarized by a local foreign notary and then have the document authenticated for use in the United States. In countries that are party to the Hague Apostille Convention, this is a simplified process that does not involve Embassies or Consulates. See the Hague Conference website for complete information on the Apostille process.

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How do the notarial functions of U.S. Notarizing officers differ from those of a U.S. Notary public?

Notarials at United States Embassies and Consulates require the personal appearance of the person requesting the notarial service. The notarizing officer must establish the identity of the person requesting the service; establish that the person understands the nature, language and consequences of the document to be notarized; and establish that the person is not acting under duress. U.S. Embassy or Consulate consular officers may refuse to execute certain notarial requests that are in support of activity may be unlawful or improper. Consular officers may authenticate documents in countries that are not parties to the Hague Apostille Convention.

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Do United States Embassies and Consulates provide notarial and authentication services for non-U.S. Citizens?

Yes. Notarial services may be performed for any person regardless of nationality. However, please note that the availability of this service can vary and fluctuate as local conditions and resources allow.

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What are some examples of notarial/authentication acts?

Acknowledgment: To "acknowledge" is to admit, affirm, or declare; to recognize one's acts, assuming obligation or incurring responsibility. For example, if you sign a deed before a notarizing officer, you acknowledge your signature.

Oath: Any form of an attestation by which a person signifies that he or she is bound in conscience to perform an act faithfully and truthfully. A person who intentionally makes false statements under oath before a U.S. notarizing officer is punishable for perjury.

Affirmation: A solemn and formal declaration that an affidavit is true, that the witness will tell the truth, etc.

Affidavit: A written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the person making it, taken before an officer having authority to administer such an oath.

Attestation: The act of witnessing an instrument in writing, at the request of the party executing the document, and subscribing it as a witness.

Corporate Acknowledgment: Officials of corporations who desire to execute an instrument in their capacity as corporate officials before a consular notarizing officer must present adequate proof of their corporate identity.

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What is authentication?

An authentication is the placing of the consular seal over the seal of a foreign authority whose seal or signature is on file with the United States Embassy or Consulate in order to verify the authenticity of the foreign seal or signature. A consular authentication in no way attests to the authenticity of the contents of a document but merely to the seal and signature of the issuing authority.

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What is an "Apostille"?

An Apostille is an authentication certification issued in accordance with the requirements of  the Hague Apostille Convention, a multilateral treaty to which the United States is a party.

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What fees are charged for consular notarial and authentication services abroad?

Effective July 13, 2021 there is a $50.00 fee for each notarial service and a $50.00 fee for each authentication service provided by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Fees may be paid in cash or by certified check or money order. No personal checks are accepted. Certified checks or money orders should be made payable to the United States Embassy or Consulate. (For example, United States Embassy Kingston.)

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Can a notarizing officer's seal be further authenticated?

Yes, the Department of State's Office of Authentications in Washington, D.C. can authenticate the seal of a notarizing officer.

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Do United States Embassies or Consulates provide remote notarial or authentication services? What about U.S. states?

No. United States Embassies and/or Consulates do not provide remote notarial nor authentication services. Some U.S. states do permit remote notarization but as a general matter limit the practice to notarials executed within their physical jurisdiction. If you are located overseas and considering a remote notarial executed by a U.S. notary, you should determine whether this practice is in accordance with the laws and regulations policies of the U.S. state that commissioned the notary public and the laws of the state or country where the document is notarized. Some foreign states may impose civil and criminal penalties for participation in a remote notarial that is performed without legal authorization in their jurisdiction by a foreign notary public.