Authentication Certificate Requirements

Authentication Fee Increase

Effective July 15, 2021, authentication fees have increased to $20, per document, for all services, including rejections and requests that are not ready to be processed by our office because they require additional certification. Please make sure to mail the correct fee with your request to avoid any delays in service.

Form DS-4194, Request for Authentication Service, has expired and includes the previous fee. You should use the expired form when requesting services, but you need to include the new fee of $20. We will post the updated version of the form when it is available.”

Before submitting documents requiring authentication, you must:

1) Notarize each document in front of a notary public:

  • For notaries public commissioned through the county: Documents must first be certified by the clerk of court in the county where the notary is commissioned, and then certified by the secretary of state in the state where the document was notarized.
  • For notaries public commissioned through the state: Documents must only be certified by the secretary of state in the state where the document was notarized.

2) Follow this order for notarizing and certifying your document: 

  • Your document is issued to you
  • Get your document notarized
  • If it applies, get your document certified by the clerk of court
  • Get your document certified by the secretary of state. NoteIf a document requires certification from both the clerk of court and secretary of state, the dates must show that the clerk of court certification was done before the secretary of state certification.
If you do not have the correct notarization(s) before you submit your documents, we will not be able to process your request.
 
3) All seals and signatures must be originals
  • We cannot accept copies unless they are “true certified copies” from a notary public. Please note that birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce decrees, court documents, and federally-issued documents cannot be certified by a notary public as “true copies.”  These documents must be certified by the secretary of state.

4) All documents in a foreign language must be translated into English by a certified translator and notarized as a true translation.

Requirements also vary based on the type of document you submit. Select the type of document below to learn more.

ALL / ALL /

State and Local Documents

Examples of state and local documents include:

  • Birth Certificates 
  • Marriage Certificates 
  • Death Certificates
  • Divorce Decrees 
  • Probate Wills 
  • Judgments

Requirements for state and local documents include:

  • Original or certified document must include the raised and/or stamped seal of the court or department of vital records.
  • Must be certified by the Secretary of State from the state in which the documents were issued. The Secretary of State will certify to the official signing the document under the Seal of the State.
ALL / ALL /

Federally-Issued Documents

Examples of federally-issued documents include:

  • Animal/Plant Certifications (issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA)
  • Animal Health certifications (issued by USDA)
  • FBI – Background check (issued by U.S. Department of Justice, or DoJ)
  • U.S. Federal Court Documents check (issued by DoJ)
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court check (issued by DoJ)
  • Immigration Certifications (issued by U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
  • Certificate of Foreign Governments (issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS)
  • Certificate of Pharmaceutical/Export (issued by HHS)
  • Trademark (Issued by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • Other documents issued by Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration, or Office of Personnel Management

Requirements for federally-issued documents include:

  • Must be executed by U.S. federal agencies
  • Must include a legible signature of the official's name, printed name and title, and seal of the agency
  • Must be on agency letterhead

 

ALL / ALL /

Documents issued by the District of Columbia Superior Court and Court of Appeals

Examples include:

  • Marriage Certificates (Issued in the District of Columbia)

Requirements:

  • Document must have the original official signature and the raised seal of the court.
ALL / ALL /

Other Documents

Examples of other documents include:

  • Affidavits 
  • Agreements 
  • Articles of Incorporation 
  • Bylaws 
  • Commercial Invoices 
  • Copy of a U.S. Passport (identification page only)
  • Deeds of Assignment
  • Diplomas 
  • Home Study 
  • Income Verification 
  • Powers-of-Attorney 
  • Single Status 
  • Transcripts 
  • Other business documents

Requirements for other documents include:

  • Must be certified with a stamp or seal by a notary public
  • Must be certified by the clerk of court from the county in which the notary is commissioned
  • Must be certified by the Secretary of State from the state in which the document was executed
  • Documents from the District of Columbia must be certified by the Government of the District of Columbia Notarial Section
  • Note: the document doesn't have to be certified by the clerk of court from the county in which the notary is commissioned if the Secretary of State will certify directly to the notary.