Document Authentification for International Child Adoption

Document Authentication

Document Authentification for International Child Adoption     Document Authentification for International Child Adoption

This page discusses the process you will need to use to have documents authenticated during the international child adoption process. Halfway down this page we also list the actual Authentication Authority Offices in each state along with their address and phone number so you can contact them directly.

Authentication of Documents in International Adoption

Documents issued in one country which need to be used in another country must be "authenticated" or "legalized" before they can be used as valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals are placed on the document. Such documents range from powers of attorney, affidavits, birth, death and marriages records, incorporation papers, deeds, patent applications, home studies and other legal papers. The number and type of authentication certificates you will need to obtain depend on the nature of the document and the foreign country's requirements.  Every adopting family adopting internationally should be aware of this critical process.

The following information has been adapted from the U.S. Department of State website referenced above.

State Authentication Authorities

Summary: Documents issued in one country which need to be used in another country must be "authenticated" or "legalized" before they can be recognized as valid in the foreign country. This is a process in which various seals are placed on the document. Such documents range from powers of attorney, affidavits, birth, death and marriages records, incorporation papers, deeds, patent applications, home studies and other legal papers. The number and type of authentication certificates you will need to obtain depend on the nature of the document and whether or not the foreign country is a party to the multilateral treaty on "legalization" of documents. (A) If your document is intended for use in a country which is a party to a treaty called the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents ("Hague Legalization Convention") (countries listed below), obtaining a special "apostille" certificate is generally all that is required. The procedure is explained in detail in our separate information flyer available via our home page on the Internet or through our automated fax service. See "Additional Information" below. (B) If the country where the document will be used is not a party to the Convention, you will have to begin the cumbersome, time-consuming process of obtaining a series of certifications known as the "chain authentication method". This is literally a paper chase in which authorities will have to attest to the validity of a succession of seals beginning with your document and ending with the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States.

Chain Authentication

  1. Foreign Embassy: This is the last step in the authentication chain. Usually, foreign embassies or consulates in the U.S. can only authenticate the seal of the U.S. Department of State. Check with the embassy or consulate of the foreign country to see if some of the steps can be avoided. Some foreign embassies and consulates maintain sample seals of state authorities. Remember that what is needed is only the foreign consul's authentication on the document for the document to be "self-proving" in the foreign country. If a foreign consul will authenticate the document without the intermediate steps, you will have saved yourself money, time and effort. See our consular information sheets via the internet or autofax for the phone number for foreign embassies in the U.S. under "Entry Requirements" explained under "Additional Information" below. Also ask the foreign embassy or consulate about any fees they may charge. If the foreign embassy informs you that you must also obtain the seal of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country, which is required very rarely, you will then need to send the document to the Consular Section, American Citizens Services of the U.S. embassy or consulate, enclosing a money order or bank check payable to U.S. Embassy/Consulate (fill in name of city). The addresses of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are included in the final paragraph of our consular information sheets available via the Internet on our home page or via our autofax service. See "Additional Information" below.

  2. U.S. Department of State Authentications Office : The office is located at 518 23rd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: (202) 647-5002. There is a fee of $5.00 for each authentication payable in the form of a check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order made payable to the Department of State. For additional information, call the Federal Information Center: 1-800-688-9889, and choose option 6 after you press 1 for touch tone phones. Walk-in service is available from the Authentications Office from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Monday-Friday, except holidays. Walk-in service is limited to 15 documents per person per day (documents can be multiple pages). Processing time for authentication requests sent by mail is 5 working days or less. See also, the State Department home page at http://www.state.gov. See also in general, 22 C.F.R. 131.

  3. Documents Issued by Federal Courts : Documents issued under the seal of a federal court should be sent to Justice Management Division, Security Program Staff, Physical Security Office, 9th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 6531, Washington, D.C. 20530, tel: (202) 514-2314 or 514-4667 for the preliminary authentication. Then forward the document(s) to the U.S. Department of State, Authentications Office as explained above. Finally, send the documents to the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States.

  4. Documents Issued by Federal Agencies: Documents issued under the seal of a federal agency can be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office following the instructions above. Then send the documents to the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States as explained above.

  5. State Documents: State documents such as documents originating with a state court or agency (birth, death, marriage, etc.) must be authenticated by the appropriate office in the state Secretary of State's office (listed below). The document may then be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office as explained above. The document may then be authenticated by the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States following the instructions above.

  6. Notarized Documents: The procedure for authenticating documents executed before a notary public such as affidavits or acknowledgments varies from state to state. It is advisable to contact the state authentication authority listed below to learn what steps are necessary between the notary's seal and the state Secretary of State's seal. In some states, this requires contacting the clerk of the court of the county where the notary is licensed, and obtaining an authentication of the notary's seal. The state Secretary of State's office can then authenticate the seal of the clerk of the county court. After the seal of the state Secretary of State or comparable authority listed below is on the document, it may be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office. The final step is to obtain the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States following the instructions above.

State Authentication Authorities

State Authentication Authorities: (This list of state authorities was valid effective 4/1/97. See also 28 U.S.C.A., Fed. R. Civ. P. 44, pp. 328-31 (1992 & West Supp. 1993). It is valid for chain authentication and Hague Legalization Convention "apostille" procedures; but see our specialized flyer on the operation of the Hague Legalization Convention since the Convention "apostille" certificate is affixed by different American authorities depending on the nature of the document.)

Alabama
Office of the Secretary of State
Authentication Section
State Capitol, Room E-204
600 Dexter Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104
334-242-7210
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State

Alaska
Notary Administrator
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
P.O. Box 110015
Juneau, AK 99811- 0015
907-465-3509
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Lieutenant Governor; Attorney General; Clerk of the Supreme Court

Arizona
Office of the Secretary of State
Business Services Division, Notary Section
1700 W. Washington, 7th Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2888
602 542-4086/ 602 542-4758
Fee: $3.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State.

Arkansas
Office of Secretary of State
Corporations Division
State Capitol
Little Rock, AR 72201-1094
501-682-3409
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Chief Deputy Secretary of State.

California
Office of the Secretary of State
Business Programs Division
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
916-653-3595
Fee: $20.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; any Assistant Secretary of State; any Deputy Secretary of State.

Colorado
Office of Secretary of State
1560 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80202
303-894-2680
Fee: By Mail: $2.00 While You Wait: $17.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Connecticut
Office of the Secretary of State
Authentication Unit
30 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106
860-509-6135
Fee: $20.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Delaware
Office of Secretary of State
Notary Division
401 Federal St., Suite 3
Dover, DE 19901
302- 302/739-4111
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Acting Secretary of State.

District of Columbia
Office of the Secretary, D.C.
Notary Commissions & Authentications Section
441 4th St. N.W. (One Judiciary Square)
Washington, D.C.
202-727-3117
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Executive Secretary; Assistant Executive Secretary; Mayor's Special Assistant and Assistant to the Executive Secretary; Secretary of the District of Columbia.

Florida
Department of State
Office of International Affairs
Notary Certification/Apostille Section
The Capitol Building
Suite 1902
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
804-488-7521
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State

Georgia
Georgia Superior Court Clerks'' Cooperative Authority
Notary Division
1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30345
404-327-6023
or
Office of Secretary of State
Administrative Procedures Unit
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Suite 820 - West Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
404-656-2885
Fee: $3.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Georgia Superior Court Clerks'' Cooperative Authority.

Hawaii
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
State Capitol, 5 th Floor,
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
808-586-0255
Fee: $1.00
Designated Authority: Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii.

Idaho
Office of Secretary of State
Notary Department
Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720
208- 332-2810
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Chief Deputy Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State; Notary Public Clerk.

Illinois
Office of the Secretary of State
Index Department, Notaries Public Division
111 E. Monroe St.
Springfield, IL 62756
217- 217-782-7017
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Indiana
Office of Secretary of State
Statehouse
Suite 201
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-232-6532
Fee: no charge
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

Iowa
Office of Secretary of State
Lucas Building
First Floor, Public Service
Des Moines, IA 50319
515-281-5204
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

Kansas
Office of Secretary of State
State Capitol
Second Floor
Topeka, KS 66612
913-296-2744
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State; any Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

Kentucky
Office of Secretary of State
Capitol Building
P.O. Box 718
Frankfort, KY 40602-0178
502-564-7330
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State.

Louisiana
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 94125
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125
504-342-4981
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State.

Maine
Office of Secretary of State
Bureau of Corporations
Elections and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
207-624-7650
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Maryland
Office of Secretary of State
Statehouse
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-974-5520
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State.

Massachusetts
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Public Records Division
Commissions Section
McCormack Building, Room 1719
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
617-727-2832
Fee: $3.00

Michigan
Department of State
Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Boulevard
Lansing, MI 48918
517-373-2531
Fee: $1.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Minnesota
Secretary of State's Office
180 State Office Bulldog.
St. Paul, MN 55155
651-296-2803
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Mississippi
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 136
Jackson, MS 39205-0136
601-359-1615
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; any Assistant Secretary of State.

Missouri
Office of Secretary of State
Commission Division
600 West Main, Room 367
Jefferson City, MO 65102
573-751-2783
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Montana
Office of the Secretary of State
Notary/Certification Division
State Capitol RAM 260
PO Box 202801
Helena MT 59620-2801
UPS-Fed Ex-DHL- etc. address: 1236 E 6th Ave Helena MT 59620
406-444-1877 (Tuesdays - Thursdays only)
email: sos notary@state.mt.us
Fee: $10.00 per document
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Any Deputy Secretary of State

Nebraska
Office of Secretary of State
Notary Division
Box 95104
State Capitol
Lincoln, NE 68509
402-471-2558
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Nevada
Secretary of State
101 N. Carson Street, #3
Carson City, NV 89701-4786
775-684-5708
Fee: $20.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Chief Deputy Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

New Hampshire
Office of Secretary of State
Statehouse
Room 204
Concord, NH 03301
603-271-3242
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

New Jersey
Department of State
Notary Public Unit
Division of Commercial Recording
PO Box 452
Trenton, NJ 08625
609-530-6421
Fee: Regular Service: $25.00 Expedited Service: $35.00
Designated Authority: NJ Department of the Treasury, Division of Revenue

New Mexico
Office of the Secretary of State
State Capitol North Annex, Suite 300
Santa Fe, NM 87503
505-827-3600
Fee: $3.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State

New York

  • Upstate Counties
    Miscellaneous Records
    162 Washington Ave.
    Albany, NY 12231
    518-474-4770
    Fee: $10.00
    Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Executive Deputy Secretary of State; any Deputy Secretary of State; any Special Deputy Secretary of State.

  • Down State Counties
    New York authorities in Albany advise that documents issued in the nine down state counties are authenticated under the Convention by the New York City office. The nine down state counties are New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, West chester, Nassau, Suffolk, Rock land and Richmond. The address of the New York Department of State, Certification Unit is 6th Floor, 270 Broadway, New York, New York 10007, tel: 212-417-5684. Fee: $10.00

North Carolina
Office of Secretary of State
Authentication Division
PO Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
919-807-2140
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

North Dakota
Office of Secretary of State
Capitol Building
600 E Boulevard Ave., Dept 108
Bismarck, ND 58505
701-328-2900
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Ohio
Office of the Secretary of State
30 East Broad St.
15th Fl.
Columbus, OH 43266-0418
877-767-6446
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State.

Oklahoma
Office of Secretary of State
2300 N. Lincoln
Room 101
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
405-521-4211
Fee: $25.00 (cashiers check or money order)
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State; Budget Officer of the Secretary of State.

Oregon
Office of Secretary of State
255 Capitol St.
Suite 151
Salem OR 97310
503-986-2200.
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State; Acting Secretary of State; Assistant to the Secretary of State.

Pennsylvania
Department of State
Bureau of Commissions
Elections and Legislation
North Office Building
Room 210
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-5280
Fee: $15.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of the Commonwealth; Executive Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Rhode Island
Office of Secretary of State
Notary Division
100 N. Main St.
Providence, RI 02903
401-277-1487
Fee: $5.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; First Deputy Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

South Carolina
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 11350
Columbia, SC 29211
803-734-2119
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State

South Dakota
Office of Secretary of State
500 East Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501-5077
605-773-5004
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State

Tennessee
Office of Secretary of State
James K. Polka Building
Division of Business Services
312 Eighth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37243
615-741-3699
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State.

Texas
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 12079
Austin, TX 78711
512-463-5705
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State

Utah
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
210 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84145-8414
801-538-1040
Fee: Certifying Notary's Seal: $10.00 Apostille: $5.00
Designated Authority: Lieutenant Governor; Deputy Lieutenant Governor; Administrative Assistant.

Vermont
Office of Secretary of State
109 State St.
Montpelier, VT 05609-1103
802-828-2308
Fee: $2.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

Virginia
Office of Secretary of Commonwealth
Authentications Division
830 East Main Street, 14th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
804-786-2441
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of the Commonwealth; Chief Clerk, Office of the Secretary of Commonwealth.

Washington
Office of the Secretary of State
Corporations Division
Apostille and Certificate Program
PO Box 40228
Olympia, WA 98504-0228
360-586-2268
Fee: $15.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State; Director, Department of Licensing.

West Virginia
Office of Secretary of State
Capitol Building
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
 No. 157-K
Charleston, WV 25305-0770
304-558-6000
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Under Secretary of State; any Deputy Secretary of State.

Wisconsin
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 7848
Madison, WI 53707-7848
608-266-3159
Fee: $10.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Assistant Secretary of State.

Wyoming
Office of Secretary of State
The Capitol
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0020
307-777-5342
Fee: $3.00
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.

American Samoa
Office of the Governor
Pa go Pa go, AS 96799
011-684-633-4116

Designated Authority: Secretary of American Samoa; Attorney General of American Samoa.

Guam (Territory of)
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 2950
Agama, GU 96910
011-671-472-1537
Designated Authority: Department of Administration

Puerto Rico (Commonwealth of)
Supreme Curt of Puerto Rico
Office of Nontribal Inspection
P.O. Box 190860
San Juan, PR 00919-0860
787-763-8816
Designated Authority: Supreme Court of Puerto Rico

U.S. Virgin Islands
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
7 & 8 King St.
Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI 00802
340-774-2991
No authority designated: refer requests to the U.S. Department of State, Authentications Office, 2400 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520. 202-647-5002

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Document Authentification for International Child Adoption     Document Authentification for International Child Adoption