The Guide to Apostilles: Learn What They Are – And When They’re Needed

Are you a US citizen? Do you have a document that you want to certify for use in other countries?

That document may be anything from a birth certificate, to a marriage contract, or even business paperwork.

If that’s the case, then you should look to get an apostille!

Apostilles authenticate US documents, making them usable in any country that has signed 1961’s Hague Convention Treaty. With an apostille, you get a signature and seal on a document that lets you use it in a signatory country!

Documents you can apostille include:

  • Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates
  • Naturalization certificates
  • Wills
  • Transcripts and diplomas
  • US driver licenses and passports
  • Social security, FBI, and IRS letters

Most legal US paperwork can be apostilled if it has use overseas. After getting said document authenticated, it becomes valid for international use.

Why Are Apostilles Required?

They’re needed for a multitude of uses, which include:

Acquiring a Second Citizenship

US birth certificates must be apostilled for use in another country. You must do so in the state where the original document was provided.

Registering Birth, Death, and Marriage Certificates in Foreign Countries

To register a US birth, death, or marriage certificate, it must be apostilled through the state the document was issued.

Marriage in a Different Country

If you plan on marrying abroad, you need an apostille. Authorities in foreign countries may require a US birth certificate or a singleness certificate, showing you can marry.

If you are divorced, officials in that country will ask you to apostille your divorce decree.

Receiving Inheritance

To receive cash inheritance of property out of US borders, you’ll be asked to legalize the will left by the executor in your name. You can do so as long as the original document was notarized and executed properly.

Receiving a Visa

If you need to apply for a work or study visa, then that country’s authorities may ask for an FBI background check. You’ll need to receive a federal apostille for documents of that kind.

You may also have to provide state and city police records, also requiring an apostille.

But speaking of work and study visas…

Working or Studying Abroad

To continue your education in a foreign country, you’re required to apostille your education documents.

Those include transcripts, diplomas, certificates, and degrees. Those documents may be from elementary, middle, or high school. College and university degree apostilles may be required.

Retirement in a Foreign Country

Do you plan on retiring in a different country? If so, then you may need to apostille the following documents:

  • FBI background check
  • Social security letter
  • Naturalization certificate (or) birth certificate
  • IRS transcripts (or) income verification letter
  • Retirement benefits letters

Registering Your Business/Corporation Abroad

If your corporation was formed in the US, you’re required to apostille the following:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Certificate of Good Standing
  • Invoices and other certificate letters
  • IRS certifications
  • Power of Attorney

Granting Power of Attorney

To grant someone in a foreign country the power to act on your behalf, you need a power of attorney document. It should be both notarized and apostilled.