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Apostille USA

Getting an Apostille in the USA

United States Authentication Authorities

Q. Who are the U.S. "Competent Authorities" to issue the Apostille certificate?

A. There are three levels of U.S. competent authorities, one for Federal agencies, one for U.S. (federal) courts, and one for state documents, including documents executed before notaries.

1. Federal Executive and Administrative Agencies: Authentications Office, Department of State, 518 23rd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5002 Fee: $5.00. For additional information, call the Federal Information Centre: 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 8 a.m. to 12 noon 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: http://www.state.gov. See also in general, 22 C.F.R. 131.

2. U.S. Courts: Clerks and Deputy Clerks of the Federal Court System. Fee: $5.00.

For the purposes of the Convention, clerks and deputy clerks of the U.S. Courts shall include the clerks and deputy clerks of the following: The Supreme Court of the United States, the Courts of Appeals for the First through the Eleventh Circuits and the District of Columbia Circuit, the United States District Courts, the United States Court of Claims, the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, the United States Court of International Trade, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam, the District Court of the Virgin Islands, and the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

North Dakota
Office of Secretary of State
Capitol Building
600 E Boulevard Ave., Dept 108
Bismarck, ND 58505
Designated Authority: Secretary of State; Deputy Secretary of State.


The Secretary of State’s office can authenticate a document that has either been notarized or is a certified copy of an official document.

Authentications can also be issued on diplomas that you have received. A list of instructions are mailed in April of each year to the schools however; they can also be obtained from the Secretary of State’s office at 701-328-2901.

Prior to authenticating the Secretary of State must receive the original documents, a letter accompanying the documents specifying which country the document will be used in, and a fee of $10.00 per authentication. If you would like to have the documents looked at for accuracy prior to submitting them please e-mail to sosadlic@nd.gov or fax to 701-328-1690 along with your name and phone number.

The documents are most often processed within 3 business days and are returned by first class mail. If you prefer an expedited service please include a prepaid and pre-addressed envelope.

A notary is accountable for every word in the notarial certificate. A notary shall not notarize any document which does not have a complete notarial certificate on the document or on an attachment to the document.

A notary should never assume a preprinted certificate complies with law, nor is it accurate or truthful. A notary should scrutinize the preprinted certificate for legality, accuracy and truthfulness.

Notary certificates need not be typed or printed in order to be valid. They may be hand written in ink. The notary certificates need not be on the same page as the signature being notarized. If necessary, the notary should prepare the certificate on a separate page and attach it to the document on which the notarized signature appears. If the certificate is on a separate page you may want to add additional wording for extra security.

"This notary certificate is prepared on a separate page and is attached to the document entitled___________, containing__________ pages and is attached to that document by means of __________(staple, glue, tape)."

When a signature is notarized, one of two official notarial acts take place. These are acknowledgments or the administering of an oath (or affirmation) to the document signer. They each have a different purpose.

Acknowledgments are the simple authentication of a signature. They prove or acknowledge that the signer personally appeared and was identified before the notary public.

To make an acknowledgment, the document signer must personally appear before the notary public, and declare that he/she has executed and signed the document voluntarily. The notary should ensure that the signer understands the document and has not been coerced into signing. If there is any question about the signer’s willingness to execute the document or his/her understanding of the terms of the document, a notary should refuse to notarize. The notary may want to ask the signer "Do you acknowledge that this is your signature and that you are executing this document of your own free will?" If yes, the notary should complete a certificate that states the signer acknowledged the document.
Jurats are the authentication of a signature made under oath or affirmation. An oath or affirmation is administered to a document signer when the signer is required to make a sworn statement about certain facts. The signer personally appears before the notary to swear (or affirm) to the notary, an officer duly appointed to administer oaths, that the information contained in the document is true. A person who makes a false oath or affirmation is subject to criminal charges for perjury. A notarization requiring an oath should begin with the administration of an oath or affirmation. The notary may want to ask the signer "Do you swear (or affirm) that the information contained in this document is true?" After receiving an affirmative answer, the notary must complete a proper notarial certificate indicating that an oath or affirmation was taken.
If the document the notary is asked to notarize contains a prepared notarial certificate, the key words "acknowledged" or "sworn to" tell the notary which notarial act is required. If there is no notarial certificate on the document, the signer must direct the notary whether he/she wants to make an acknowledgment or take an oath. Unless the notary is an attorney, they are not authorized to advise a person which notarial act is appropriate for the document presented for notarization.

Copy Certifications
Copy certifications prove the notary compared the copy of a document with the original and the copy is a true, correct and complete copy of the original. Notaries are not authorized to certify a copy of a "recordable document" such as birth and death certificates, recorded titles to property, college transcripts or anything bearing an official government seal.

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