The Vow Keeper
California Marriage License Apostille Information
The Apostille Process
What is an Apostille ?
In 1961 many nations joined together to create a simplified method of "legalizing" documents for universal recognition in each other's countries. Members of the conference, referred to as the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents (33 U.S.T 883), adopted a document referred to as an Apostille that would be recognized by all member nations. Documents sent to member nations, completed with an Apostille at the state level, may be submitted directly to the member nation without further action. Documents sent to non-member nations requiring a Certification of the signature of the state's public official at the state level, will need to be transmitted to the Office of Authentications of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. for the authentication of the State Official's signature if requested by the receiving country.
An Apostille is an authentication of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. Some countries only will recognize your Birth Certificate, Marriage License or other type of official document is authenticated by the Secretary of State which the document was issued. This authentication can be an Apostille or a Certification. The country of destination will determine whether they require an Apostille or Certification.
Whose signatures can be authenticated (Apostilled) ?
The California Secretary of State only authenticates signatures on documents issued in the State of California signed by a notary public or the following public officials and their deputies:
- County Clerks or Recorders
- Court Administrators of the Superior Court
- Executive Clerks of the Superior Court
- Officers whose authority is not limited to any particular county
- Executive Officers of the Superior Court
- Judges of the Superior Court
- State Officials
How do I get an Apostille on my Marriage License ?
Marriage licenses are issued by County Marriage License Offices within the State Of California. The California Secretary of State verifies the signature on your Certified Copy Of Marriage License.
- Fill out your request for Certified Copy Of Marriage License from your recording office
- This form MUST be NOTARIZED
- Attach your check or money order for the amount of certified copies requested and return your application back to the recording office
- Once you have received your Certified Copy Of Marriage License from your recording office, you may then prepare the necessary paperwork for the California Secretary of State, which you will mail-in or walk-in your paperwork to the California Secretary of State for Apostille
- You may ONLY Mail your Apostille request to the Sacramento Location. Walk-in service is available in Los Angeles and Sacramento locations for Apostille services.
- If you walk-in your documents to the Apostille office, they will prepare them for Apostille while you are standing at the counter
- If you mail-in your documents to the Apostille office, they will return your Apostille documents by mail
How do I obtain an Apostille from the California Secretary of State ?
To avoid delays that may result from out-of-date documents, a document certified by a county official (e.g. county clerk) should have a certification date within the last five years or a new certified copy should be obtained from the appropriate county official.
You must identify the country of destination when the documents are submitted to the Secretary of State. To facilitate the processing of documents submitted by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and your daytime telephone number.
Documents can be dropped off in person to the Sacramento office for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). In addition, there are regional offices in Los Angeles.
The Sacramento address is:
Office of the Secretary of State
1500 11th St., 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Or the documents can be mailed to the Sacramento office ONLY.
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, CA 94277-0001
Secretary of State’s Fee: $20 per signature to be authenticated and a $6 special handling fee (per public official for documents submitted over the counter).
Checks or money orders should be made payable to the Secretary of State.
Complete details for California Secretary of State Apostille
are below the Apostille Country List
Which Countries Require an Apostille?
The following 107 countries are members of the Hague Apostille Convention
and will require an Apostille from the California Secretary of State
printable PDF list
Antigua & Barbuda
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Saint Kits & Nevis
Saint Vincent & The Grenadines
Sao Tome & Principe
Trinidad & Tobago
The following countries below are NOT members of the Apostille Convention
and will ALSO require certification…
United Arab Emirates
Issuance of a Single Authentication Certificate: Effective January 1, 2017, the California Secretary of State's office will begin issuing a single Authentication Certificate for documents to be used outside of the country rather than issuing either an Apostille or Certificate depending on the country of destination.
The California Secretary of State has a main office, located in Sacramento, and a regional office, located in Los Angeles.
Regional Office Services located in Los Angeles, California
The regional office distributes forms and informational materials
and provides the following drop–off services and walk-in services ONLY,
The Los Angeles location does NOT ALLOW Mail-In Services
Mail-In Services are ONLY PROCESSED by the Sacramento Office
Authentication Certificates: Authenticating a public official’s signature including notaries public.
Domestic Partners: Filing Domestic Partnership forms (to register, terminate or revoke a termination).
Requests for services other than those identified above must be directed to the Sacramento office
When submitting a request for authentication by mail, please include the following items:
- The original notarized and/or certified document(s). A photocopy is not acceptable.
- A cover letter stating the country in which the document will be used.
- A check or money order for the authentication fee of $20 per authentication certificate made payable to Secretary of State and payable in U.S. dollars.
- A self-addressed envelope for the return mail. If you wish to use a mail tracking service, please provide a pre-paid air bill. If you do not use a prepaid service, our office will mail your document(s) by U.S. Postal Service regular mail at no charge.
- Authentication requests can be presented in person to our Sacramento or Los Angeles office locations for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). A $20 fee for each authentication certificate and an additional $6 special handling fee for each different public official's signature to be authenticated is required. When presenting a request in person to either of our offices, no appointment is necessary. Customers are served on a "first come first serve" basis. Payments can be made by check, money order, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Cash is not accepted at the Los Angeles office. Please refer to Contact Information for office addresses.
- "The ABCs of Apostilles" (PDF) brochure provides basic information about the Apostille Convention and the Convention's operation that has been prepared by the Permanent Bureau (Secretariat) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and is provided with the Permanent Bureau's permission. The Permanent Bureau hopes this brochure will assist the millions of users of the Apostille Convention around the world.
Tips For Submission
Following are a few important points to remember when submitting
requests to the regional office in Los Angeles
All requests must be dropped off in person, walk-in services ONLY for Los Angeles
Special handling fees are charged for authentication, filing and reservation requests. Special handling fees are in addition to regular fees for such services; are applicable each time a request is submitted; and should be provided separate from other applicable fees. Special handling fee for processing and preparing an authentication of a public official’s name: $6.00
Special handling fee for filing a domestic partnership document: $15.00
Fees collected at the regional office location may be made by check, money order, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Checks should be made payable to the Secretary of State. The regional office is not able to accept cash.
Office Hours, Addresses, Phone Numbers & Driving Directions
Office hours are Monday through Friday - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding state holidays.
Documents can be dropped off in person to the Sacramento office for processing between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays). In addition, there are regional offices in San Diego and Los Angeles.
Sacramento Main Office
Office Of The Secretary Of State
1500 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Or the documents can be MAILED to the Sacramento Office ONLY
Office Of The Secretary Of State
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, Ca. 94277-0001
Los Angeles Regional Office Walk-in Service ONLY
300 South Spring Street, Room 12513
Los Angeles, CA 90013
California Secretary of State’s Fee: $20 per signature to be authenticated and a $6 special handling fee (per public official for documents submitted over the counter).
Checks or money orders should be made payable to the California Secretary of State. For additional questions and information, please contact the California Secretary of State directly.