An “apostille” is a form of authenticating documents for use in countries participating in the Hague Convention of 1961. An apostille is issued as an attachment and validates the authenticity of a document to the respective foreign entity you need it for.
The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents is an international treaty that specifies the modalities through which a document can be certified for legal purposes. While it might sound complicated, obtaining an apostille for a birth certificate is not rare and can be done following a series of steps.
However, you do need to bear in mind that the United States will only issue apostilles for federal documents to be used in countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention. The majority of states consider that a birth certificate is a private document that can be obtained only by the person in the certificate, family members or the spouse. At the same time, any person can obtain an apostille of their birth certificate for official purposes in a foreign country.
An apostille birth certification is an official copy of the original document which has been verified and signed by the necessary official.
What is an Apostille and when to get one?
In simpler terms an apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. Not only birth certificates need apostilles. An apostille can be requested for a marriage certificate, death certificate and other official documents.
A U.S. citizen would need an apostille in all of the following cases:
- The country where the document was issued must be party of the Apostille Convention
- The country where the document is going to be used is also party to the Apostille Convention
- The law of the country where the document was issued considers it to be a public document
- The country where the document will be used requires an Apostille to recognize it as a foreign public document
Steps to apostille a birth certificate
The first thing to know is that all 50 states can issue an apostille for a birth certificate. Nonetheless, each state has their own set of requirements, which is why the process of getting an apostille for birth certificate are not exactly the same in every state. Generally speaking, one of the first steps to get the apostille is to order a certified copy of the birth certificate. While the differences between states won’t be great, certain states like California or Florida have very specific requirements.
There are millions of U.S. citizens living abroad and many get married, work, or establish businesses outside the United States. If an U.S. citizen is about to marry abroad, or obtain dual citizenship, or start a business in a member of the Hague Apostille, then they will need to provide a birth certificate with an apostille. The birth certificate must be authenticated by the same state that has issued the certified copy.
As we mentioned above, each state will have a set of requirements to get an apostille for the birth certificate. Most share similar steps, however, we’ll look into a few states in more detail.
- In California, the birth certificate must be apostilled by the California Secretary of State. There aren’t any exceptions to this rule. Requests can be made by mail to the Sacramento Office.
- Meanwhile, in Florida the only way to get an apostille for a birth certificate is through the Florida Department of State. In case of the need of an apostille, application forms are available on the official website only.
- For its part, in New York, those in need of an apostille for their official document need to fill out the Apostille/Certificate of Authentication Request Form and submit it to the New York Department of State.
- When applying for the birth certificate in Texas, the “apostille” has to be given as the reason for requesting the certificate. This should be done at the Texas Vital Statistics office.
In the case that the country requesting the birth certificate isn’t a member of the Hague Apostille Convention it is possible that your documents may require further authentication through the U.S. Department of State in Washington and legalization through an embassy or consulate.