Authenticating Documents (Apostille) FAQ

What is an apostille or authentication?

​An apostille or an authentication certifies the authenticity of the signature, seal and position of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of a public document. Both enable 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 October 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 NE Oregon St Ste 205, Portland, Oregon 97232

By mail:            
Center for Health Statistics
PO Box 14050
Portland, OR  97293-0050

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

How do I get US passport information?

​U.S. Dept of State, call 877-4-USA-PPT (877-487-2778) or TDD/TTY 888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Speak with a representative Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, excluding 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 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 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.  The Oregon Secretary of State cannot authenticate documents under federal authority.​

Are you open during the lunch hour?

​Yes, we are open during lunch hour. Our office is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific Time, except for major holidays.​

Can I get documents authenticated in Portland?

​No, our only office is located in Salem. You can mail or deliver your request to us at:

Corporation Division
255 Capitol Street NE Suite 151
Salem Oregon 97310

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

​No. On 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 criminal background checks and their FAQ page 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 apostilles and authentications for documents created within that state's jurisdiction.​​

Do I need an apostille or an authentication?

​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. If you need a certificate for China, however, 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 apostille or authentication certificates once they are attached. Removing them 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 Street NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705, 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.

You can check with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office:
USCIS Application Support Center
721 Southwest 14th Avenue, 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 them at 800-SEC-0330 (investor assistance and complaints), fax them at 202-942-7040 or mail them at Mail Stop 11-2, 450 Fifth Street N.W., Washington, DC 20549.​​

How do I authenticate a Professional Engineering Certificate?

​It has come to our attention that a number of foreign students have completed the Professional Engineering exam and received certification in Oregon. We are starting to receive these certificates with a request for an apostille to be attached, 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 you send it to us for an apostille. Please ask the Professional Engineering Board to notarize your certificate, if you need an apostille. Once your certificate is notarized, send it to us so we can attach the apostille.

Another option is to take your certificate to any notary public in Oregon (search on our site 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.​

The Oregon Secretary of State will authenticate or apostille the following documents:

We can certify documents that fall under our legal jurisdiction. The following is a list of documents we certify.

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.

Complete the appropriate form, and mail, fax or hand deliver the appropriate forms and fees.

Please note: 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 (not an exhaustive 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.
  • Police background check - Record checks from the Oregon State Police, local sheriffs or police departments must be signed by an official from that office and that official signature must be notarized. The Secretary of State's Office 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, Oregon.
  • 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 (i.e. divorce decrees, legal name change) must include the official's signature, printed name and title.