Apostille birth certificate definition

An apostille is a certification provided under the 1961 Hague Convention for authenticating documents for use in foreign countries. The main function of a birth certificate apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature of the document. The U.S Department of State will only issue apostilles for federal documents to use in countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention. For instance, documents signed by:

  • A U.S. federal official
  • A U.S. consular officer
  • A military notary, judge advocate (10 USC 1044a), or foreign consul diplomatic official registered with the U.S. Department of State's Office of Protocol

State-issues documents for use in countries that are members of 1961 convention must be authenticated by the competent authority in the state where the document was issued.

Most states consider that a birth certificate is a private document but any person can obtain an apostille of their birth certificate. An apostille birth certification is an official copy of the original document that is verified and signed by the respective official.

How to get an apostille Birth Certificate

Since the requirements are unique in any State, the general recommendation is to mail to check with your your State Registrar or local county clerk. In some states the certificate will be issued by the court, health department, province, town, or parish.

  • In California, the California Secretary of State provides an Apostille to authenticate California public officials' signatures on documents that are to be used outside the U.S. Requests can be made by mail to the Sacramento office. >> Check the requirements
  • In Florida, only the Florida Department of State can have a vital record certification as an Apostille. Application forms are available only in the official website. >> Check the requirements
  • In Pennsylvania, documents must be signed by (and contain the seal of) the Pennsylvania official who custodies the record or a Pennsylvania notary public. >> Check the requirements
  • In the State of New York, applicants must complete the Apostille/Certificate of Authentication Request Form and submit it to the New York Department of State. >> Check the requirements.
  • In Texas, when applying for the Birth Certificate, "Apostille" must be given as the reason for the request to the Texas Vital Statistics office. >> Check the requirements

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.

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.

Read more: Apostille Requirements - Travel.gov (US Department of State)