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Frequently Asked Questions

Apostille & Notarial Requests

1. What is an apostille?
  • The 1961 Hague Convention established the apostille as a form of authentication for its member states.
  • An apostille is authentication of a public document in a foreign country. A public document is a document issued by an elected or appointed public official or has been notarized. For example, a marriage license, death certificate, school transcript, diploma, vehicle title, adoption records, criminal background checks, court documents, etc.
  • The apostille certifies the authenticity of the issuing official or notary public’s signature.
  • Each state designates a Competent Authority who issues an apostille for a public document.
    • The Florida Secretary of State is the Competent Authority in Florida.
    • Only the Competent Authority can issue an apostille.
  • Apostilles for the State of Florida are only issued at 2415 N. Monroe Street, Suite 810 Tallahassee, FL 32303 by the Division of Corporations.
2. What is a Notarial Certification?
  • Countries that are nonmembers of the 1961 Hague Convention are not issued an apostille; they are issued notarial certificates or certifications.
  • Like the apostille, this certification authenticates the issuing official or notary signature.
3. How long does it take to process an apostille or notarial certificate request?

Your document will be processed in the order it was received.

4. Why do I need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope—or a prepaid pre-addressed airbill—with the requestor’s name and address listed as both sender and recipient?
  • The Department of State knows your documents are important and time-sensitive.
  • A self-addressed stamped envelope, or a prepaid pre-addressed airbill, will ensure your documents are returned to you as quickly as possible.
5. How can I expedite my request?
  • Our office does not offer expedited services. 
  • We do, however, offer walk-in services. 
    • Walk-in requests are only taken at our office at 2415 N. Monroe Street, Suite 810 Tallahassee, FL 32303.
    • Most requests may be completed while you wait. 
    • Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, with the exception of state holidays.
6. How does the Department of State verify the authenticity of a Florida notary public's signature?
  • The notary’s information is compared against our Notary Public database. 
  • We verify the notary public’s commission number, expiration date and name.
7. I have a State of Florida document that I need to use abroad/out of the country. Does it need to be authenticated by the State of Florida and the U.S. Department of State?

Yes. First, submit your document to the Florida Secretary of State for authentication, and then forward the documentation to the U.S. Department of State, if required for processing.

8. I need to have a Florida document translated and apostillised for another country. Can the Florida Secretary of State’s Office translate the documents for me?
  • No, our office does not provide translation services. 
  • Check your local Yellow Pages or conduct an online search to locate a translation service. 
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE:  The person translating the document cannot be the person that notarizes it.  
9. How can I verify the authenticity of a Florida apostille or notarial certificate?
  • The certificate is issued on security paper, which cannot be photocopied. Photocopies will have the word “VOID” displayed throughout. 
  • Each certificate is assigned a unique identification number displayed on the back of the certificate in the lower left hand corner.
  • The Florida Department of State will verify the certificate’s authenticity. Send a copy of the certificate along with a written request to our Apostille/Certification Section.