Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Only). The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Documents destined for use in participating countries and their territories should be certified by one of the officials in the jurisdiction in which the document has been executed. Said official must have been designated as competent to issue certifications by “Apostille” (usually in the office of the State Secretary of State of his/her counterpart) as provided for by the 1961 Hague Convention.
With this certification by the Hague Convention Apostille, the document is entitled to recognition in the country of intended use, and no certification by the U.S. Department of State, Authentications Office or legalization by the embassy or consulate is required.
Documents requiring certifications with an apostille by the U.S. Department of State are those that have been signed by a federal official with the official Seal of that agency, American Consular Officer, Military Notary (10 USC 1044a) or Foreign Consul (Diplomat Officials must be registered with the Office of Protocol). Note: These documents must include the official’s title and his/her signature must be legible. Please also note that the U.S. Department of State will not issue an apostille for State-issued documents. Hague Convention