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-
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.
Office of Secretary of State
P.O. Box 11350
Columbia, SC 29211
Designated Authority: Secretary of State
An Apostille (AP-
Apostilles and Certifications (also known as the Great Seal) are State Certification of the signature of an official who has signed a legal document. Therefore the signer of the legal document must be an elected or appointed official whose signature is filed with the Office of the Secretary of State. Additionally, documents that have been notarized by a commissioned South Carolina Notary Public may be certified with an apostille.
Submit the following information to the Secretary of State’s Office for an apostille:
South Carolina Authentication Office Cover Letter;
Personal or company check or money order made payable to the Secretary of State’s Office or cash in the amount of $2.00 for each document; and
Documents to be authenticated.
Documents should be mailed to or sent by UPS/FedEx or hand-
SC Secretary of State's Office
1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 525
Columbia, SC 29201
Be sure to check your documents for correctness before calling, and also check again for correctness before leaving the Secretary of State’s Office.
Documents that appear to be contrary to state or federal law, interest or policy will not be certified.
All documents that are notarized in a foreign language must be accompanied by an English translation signed by the translator with the translator’s signature notarized.
A public copier is not available in our office. Please make copies before submitting originals for apostille or certification. Do not remove apostilles or certification once they are attached.
Certifications by Elected or Appointed Officials
The Secretary of State’s Office can verify the signature of any elected or appointed official whose signature is filed with the Office. The document must be signed by the elected official, NOT a Deputy or Assistant.
The only exception to the above rule is that office employees in the Office of the Probate Judge in Richland, Greenville, Horry and Charleston counties who are authorized to certify marriage licenses for these counties may sign documents as their signatures have been filed with our Office.
Certified copies obtained from the county must bear the original signature of the elected official of that office (i.e. County Probate Judge or County Clerk of Court). Addresses and telephone numbers for County Government Offices are available at: http://www.sccounties.org/counties/default.aspx
If the county official is not an elected or appointed one, his or her signature must be notarized.
Certifications by Commissioned South Carolina Notaries Public
Documents that are signed by individuals who are not elected or appointed officials whose signatures are not on file with the Secretary of State’s Office must be notarized by a commissioned South Carolina Notary Public.
School transcripts, report cards or letters MUST be signed by a school official and the official’s signature MUST be notarized.
Records checks from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), local sheriffs or police departments must be signed by an official from that office and his/her signature MUST be notarized. The Secretary of State’s Office cannot authenticate a records check obtained from the Internet.
Certification of Vital Records
Photocopies of vital records are not acceptable. All vital records must be certified by the issuing government agency.
A Marriage License may be obtained from the county Probate Judge bearing the signature of the Probate Judge only or the license can be obtained from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC)’s Vital Records Division.
A Divorce Decree may be obtained from the County Clerk of Court bearing certification including the signature of the Clerk of Court only, or obtained from DHEC’s Vital Records Division.
A death or birth certificate can only be provided by DHEC’s Vital Records Division.
To obtain these items from DHEC you may visit www.vitalcheck.com or call 1-
SC DHEC, Division of Vital Records
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Certifications for countries that are not members of the Hague Convention
If the document is going to be sent to a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, an apostille or certification by the Secretary of State’s Office will not be sufficient. These documents will require a regular certification that is required to be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State after receiving State authentication.
Authentication Office, Department of State
518 23rd Street, N.W., SA-
Washington, DC 20520