Authentication Certificate Requirements

Authentication certificates are for documents to be used in countries that do not participate in the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty.

Before submitting documents for authentication, you must:

1) Notarize each document in front of a notary public:

  • Using a notary commissioned by the county? Certify your document at the clerk of court then the secretary of state.
  • Using a notary commissioned by the state? Certify your document at the secretary of state.
If you do not have the correct notarization(s) before you submit your documents, we will not be able to process your request.
2) All seals and signatures must be originals
  • We cannot accept copies unless they are “true certified copies” from a notary public. Birth, marriage, and death certificates, divorce decrees, court documents, and federally-issued documents cannot be certified by a notary public as “true copies.”  These documents must be certified by the secretary of state.

3) All documents in a foreign language must be translated into English by a certified translator and notarized as a true translation.

4) After you get your document(s) notarized, mail your Form DS-4194 and documents to us.


Requirements for Each Type of Document

State and Local Documents


  • Birth certificates 
  • Marriage certificates 
  • Death certificates
  • Divorce decrees 
  • Probate wills 
  • Judgments

Your state and local documents must:

  • Be an original or certified document
  • Include the raised or stamped seal of the court or department of vital records
  • Be certified by the Secretary of State from the state in which the documents were issued. The Secretary of State will certify to the official signing the document under the Seal of the State.

Federally-Issued Documents

Examples include:

  • Animal/Plant Certifications (issued by U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA)
  • Animal Health certifications (issued by USDA)
  • FBI – Background check (issued by U.S. Department of Justice, or DoJ)
    • Do not notarize FBI background checks        
  • U.S. Federal Court Documents check (issued by DoJ)
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court check (issued by DoJ)
  • Immigration Certifications (issued by U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
  • Certificate of Foreign Governments (issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS)
  • Certificate of Pharmaceutical/Export (issued by HHS)
  • Trademark (Issued by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
  • Other documents issued by Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration, or Office of Personnel Management

Your federal documents must:

  • Be executed by U.S. federal agencies
  • Include a legible signature of the official's name, printed name and title, and seal of the agency
  • Be on agency letterhead

Other Documents

Examples include:

  • Affidavits 
  • Agreements 
  • Articles of Incorporation 
  • Bylaws 
  • Commercial invoices 
  • Copy of a U.S. passport (data page only)
  • Deeds of assignment
  • Diplomas 
  • Home study 
  • Income verification 
  • Powers-of-Attorney 
  • Single status 
  • Transcripts 
  • Other business documents

Your document must:

  • Be certified with a stamp or seal by a notary public
  • Be certified by the clerk of court from the county in which the notary is commissioned
    • The document doesn't have to be certified by the clerk of court from the county in which the notary is commissioned if the Secretary of State will certify directly to the notary. 
  • Be certified by the Secretary of State from the state in which the document was executed
  • Be certified by the government of the District of Columbia Notarial Section (if the document is from the District of Columbia)
Last Updated: May 10, 2024