Documents Leaving the State or Country
As a notary, you may be asked to notarize a document that is bound to another state or country. In some cases, it may be necessary to have your notarial act authenticated which will require an apostille or a certificate of notarial authority. Both, apostilles and certificates of notarial authority, verify the seal and signature of a notary on a document, and that the notary was duly commissioned on the date of the notarial act.
Although it is not the notary’s responsibility to obtain apostilles or certificates of authority, being familiar with your state’s processes will be valuable to your clients. For the official acts of Florida Notaries, the Secretary of State has the sole authority to issue notarial and apostille certifications.
The authentication process for documents leaving the country was not streamlined until 1961 when a number of countries, including the U.S., entered into a treaty called the “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.” This treaty greatly simplified the authentication process for the countries that signed it by establishing a standardized certificate of authentication called an “apostille.” Your commissioning authority uses the apostille form for authenticating a notary’s authority only when the related document is headed a country that has signed the Hague Apostille Convention.
Certificate of Notarial Authority
Documents bound for jurisdictions within the United States, or for countries that have not signed the Hague Apostille Convention, will not receive an apostille but will receive a “certificate of notarial authority.” These documents may also require additional authentications by various entities including the United States Department of State. Like an apostille, this certificate of notarial authority authenticates a notary’s signature, seal and authority to act as a notary on the date that the notarial act was performed.
It is important to understand that apostilles or certificates of authority do not authenticate the contents of a document, nor do they affect the document’s purpose in any way. Apostilles and certificates of authority pertain strictly to the notary’s authority to perform notarial acts and the authenticity of the notary’s signature and seal.
- Gather notarized document(s) that you wish to have authenticated or certified.
- Enclose a cover letter stating the name of the state or country in which the documents will be used. The country name is needed in order to authenticate the document correctly, whether by certificate of notarial authority or apostille.
- Enclose the required payment in the form of check or money order. The certification of standard notarized documents costs $10 per document.
- Insert a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of the documents.
- Mail notarized documents, the cover letter, payment and self-addressed stamped envelope to the Secretary of State at the Division of Corporations:
- Department of State
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6800
Tallahassee, FL 32314-6800