DS-4194 Form definition

The DS-4194 form is an official document used by the US Department of State.

American citizens may need to use this form to authenticate official documents, such as a US birth certificate or other vital records.

The following page explains what the DS-4194 form is and how it is used in the United States.

What Is the DS-4194 Form?

The DS-4194 is a mandatory document for anyone wishing to authenticate a vital record in the US.

You can request a certificate of authenticity through the Office of Authentications. A completed DS-4194 form is an obligatory part of this process.

Why authenticate a US document?

US citizens and foreign residents who need to submit documents to another nation may need a certificate to validate their authenticity. Certifying a document as authentic allows it to be recognized in foreign countries.

A certificate of authenticity is not the same as a certified copy of a document. It acts as proof that the related document is an original, and not a copy.

How to Authenticate a Document in the US

You can request an authentication certificate for a legalized document by mail. This is the most common and convenient way to obtain authentication.

Before you start the process, you should first check if you need a certificate of authentication or a US Department of State apostille. Depending on the issuing authority of the document(s), an American apostille may or may not be necessary.

What documents do I need for an authentication certificate?

The certification requirements depend on the document that requires authentication. All documents must have at least:

  • Completed DS 4194 form
  • Original document(s) requiring authentication
  • Service fee ($20 per document)
  • 1 self-addressed and prepaid envelope to return the document(s)

All mandatory documents must be sent to the Office of Authentications. The usual processing time is 2-3 weeks from the date the office receives the request.