Authenticating Documents (Apostille) FAQ

What is an authentication or apostille?

​An authentication or apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature, seal and position of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of a public document. An authentication or apostille enables a public document issued in one country to be recognized as valid in another country.

An apostille is a certification form set out in The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (1961). The apostille does not validate the substance, contents and/or legal effect of the document, nor does it imply that the document has been approved and/or endorsed by the Oregon Secretary of State. The Office of the Secretary of State does not regulate what documents are required by the foreign country. To verify the required documents, contact the embassy of the country to which you are submtting the documents.​​

What is the Hague Convention?

​The Hague Convention of 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents is an international treaty. The United States signed this treaty on Oct. 15, 1981. The convention simplified the authentication process of public documents to be used in nations that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention. Only those nations party to the Hague Treaty recognize the apostille certification.​​

How do I contact Oregon Vital Records in Portland?

In person:
800 N.E. Oregon St., Suite 205, Portland, OR 97232

By mail:            
Center for Health Statistics
P.O. Box 14050
Portland, OR  97293-0050

By phone: 971-673-1190 or 971-673-1180
By fax:      971-673-1201

Can you forward my authenticated documents outside the United States?

​Our normal practice is to return all authenticated documents by First Class Mail. However, Federal Express has a scheduled pick-up at our office on weekdays. If your document authentication request includes a prepaid airbill from the FedEx website, we can hand these to the FedEx courier. Visit the FedEx website at Fedex.com for instructions on preparing and printing a shipping label.​​

How do I get U.S. passport information?

​Call the U.S. Department of State at 877-4-USA-PPT (877-487-2778) or TDD/TTY 888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Eastern Time, except on federal holidays. You can also visit the U.S. Department of State website.​

How do I get information about international adoptions?

Visit the U.S. Department of State website for information about adopting children from foreign countries.​​

How do I authenticate documents issued by federal courts?

​Documents issued under the seal of a federal court should have a preliminary authentication by the Justice Management Division. After the seal of the Justice Management Division is on the document, it can be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office. The final step is to obtain the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States. Usually, foreign embassies or consulates in the U.S. can only authenticate the seal of the U.S. Department of State. Some foreign embassies and consulates maintain sample seals of state authorities.​

How do I authenticate documents issued by federal agencies?

​Documents issued under the seal of a federal agency can be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office. The final step is to obtain the seal of the foreign embassy or consulate in the United States. Usually, foreign embassies or consulates in the United States can only authenticate the seal of the U.S. Department of State. Some foreign embassies and consulates maintain sample seals of state authorities. The Oregon Secretary of State cannot authenticate documents under federal authority.​

Are you open during lunchtime?

​Yes. Our office is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time, except during major holidays.​​

Can I get documents authenticated in Portland?

​No. Our office is in Salem. You can mail or deliver your request to:

Corporation Division
255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151
Salem OR 97310

I need my FBI background check authenticated. Can you do that?

​No. For FBI background checks, you will need to request the authentication along with your request for the background check. See the FBI Criminal Justice Investigation Services​ website for further information. Once you have received the background check, submit it to the U.S. Department of State​ for authentication.​

Can you tell me what I need to get dual citizenship for my child?

​You need to check with the foreign consulate or embassy to find out what documents you need to have the authentication/apostille attached to.​

I got married seven months ago in Yamhill County. I need the apostille on my marriage license. Can you do that?

​Yes. The certificate must be the original certified copy with the printed name and signature of the county official.​

I have my birth certificate from New Jersey and my marriage license from Hood River. Can you authenticate them?

​We can only authenticate Oregon vital records. You will need to contact New Jersey to authenticate your birth certificate. The secretary of state of each state in the United States is authorized to prepare authentications and apostill for documents created within that state's jurisdiction.​​​

Which do I need, an authentication or an apostille?

​Oregon uses the same form for both kinds of certificates, so you don't need to know which certificate the destination country requires. Our form works in all countries. However, if you need a certificate for China, you must indicate that on your order.​

I need to add a page to the document you already authenticated. Can I remove the certificate, add the page and reattach the authentication certificate?

​No. Do not remove the authentication or apostille certificate once it's attached. Removal invalidates the certificate.​​​

Can you translate my marriage certificate to Spanish and then authenticate/apostille?

​The Secretary of State does not translate documents. You need to get documents translated and then have the translation notarized before our office can do the apostille.​

I was born/married outside of the United States. How can I have my birth/marriage certificate authenticated?

​If you were born to U.S. parents abroad, contact the U.S. Dept. of State, Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, 1111 19th St. NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705, telephone 202-955-0307. Or visit the U.S. Dept. of State Passport Services website for your birth certificate. Let them know you need it authenticated for use outside of the United States.

Locally, you can check with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office:
USCIS Application Support Center
721 S.W. 14th Ave., Portland, OR 97205-1904

Or visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website.

Otherwise, you need to check with the country of origin for a certified copy of those certificates. Be sure to let them know you need them authenticated.​

I need a medallion signature guarantee. Can you help me?

​No. That is a special signature guarantee for the transfer of securities and is provided by financial institutions. It is not a notary service.

Learn about getting a medallion certificate at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission​ website. You can also phone 800-SEC-0330 (Investor Assistance and Complaints), send a fax to 202-942-7040 or write to Mail Stop 11-2, 450 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20549.​​

How do I authenticate a Professional Engineering Certificate?

Foreign students who have completed the Professional Engineering exam received certification in Oregon. Requests for an apostille to be attached are coming mainly from engineers in South Korea. They are signed by officials from the Professional Engineering Board, which is not a notarization.

Professional Engineering certificates must be notarized by an Oregon notary public before being sent to the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division for an apostille. If you need an apostille, ask the Professional Engineering Board to notarize your certificate. Once it's notarized, send it to us so that we can attach the apostille.

An option is to take your certificate to any notary public in Oregon (search on our website for "find a notary public"). If you are out of state, you can send your certificate to a friend in Oregon and ask that person to have the certificate notarized.​

Which documents can the Oregon Secretary of State authenticate or apostille ?

We can certify documents that fall under our legal jurisdiction.

Business/Corporate Use

Certified copies of business organization documents on file with the Oregon Secretary of State:

  • Articles of incorporation or organization.
  • Certificates of limited partnership.
  • Certificates of merger.
  • Assumed name certificates.
  • Registration of trademarks.
  • Certificates of existence or fact issued by the Corporation Division.

Mail, fax or hand deliver the completed appropriate form plus the fee. Organizational documents (bylaws, meeting minutes that are not on file with the Corporation Division must be notarized before an apostille or authentication can be attached.

Personal/Individual Use

Documents notarized or certified as true copies by an Oregon notary public (this is not a comprehensive list):

  • Adoption papers.
  • School records - School transcripts, report cards or diplomas must be signed by a school official and the official's signature must be notarized.
  • Power of attorney.
  • Deed of assignment.
  • Distributorship agreement.
  • References and job certification.
  • Vehicle title.
  • Law enforcement background check from the Oregon State Police or local sheriff or police department must be signed by an official from that office and that official signature must be notarized. The Secretary of State's cannot authenticate a records check obtained online or from the FBI. Do not send your fingerprint cards.
  • Vital records (birth, marriage, divorce, death, verification of no marriage letter) bearing the signature of the Oregon State Registrar obtained from the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Portland, OR.
  • County vital records if the document is an original certified copy and has the printed name and signature of the official.
  • Documents signed by a circuit clerk or circuit judge (for example, divorce decrees, legal name change) must include the official's signature, printed name and title.
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