Authenticating Documents (Apostille) FAQ

​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 submitting the documents.​​
Take your document to a local notary with your personal identification. A notary is not hard to find:
  • Most “pack & ship” stores, mailbox/photocopy shops offer notarial services. The fee should be $10.
  • Many banks offer a notary service for $10, or at your own bank they may provide it to account holders for free.
  • An internet search for a “mobile notary” will find you a travelling notary who will come to you for an additional fee.

No on-site notarial service is provided by the Secretary of State. 

​​​​​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 888-896-4988


​​​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

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

​​​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 apostille for documents created within that state's jurisdiction.​​​​

​​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 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.

​​​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.​​​

​​​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.​​​​

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

​​​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.​

​​​​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, phone 202-955-0307. Or visit the U.S. Dept. of State Passport Services 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, check with the country of origin for a certified copy of those certificates. Be sure to let them know you need them authenticated.​​​​​​​

​​​​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​. You can 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.​​​​​

​​​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 get 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.​​​​

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

​​​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 get 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.​​​​

​​​​Our normal practice is to return authenticated documents by First Class Mail. However, Federal Express and UPS have scheduled pick-ups at our office on weekdays. If your authentication request includes a prepaid preprinted shipping label from the FedEx website or UPS, we will use it to express ship your document. Visit the FedEx website at for instructions on preparing and printing their shipping label.​​​​​​​​

​​Foreign students who have completed the Professional Engineering exam and 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. You can request that the Professional Engineering Board have the certificate notarized if you know that you will need to use the certificate outside of the US. Once it's notarized, send it to us so we can attach the apostille.

An option is to take your certificate to any notary public in Oregon. 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.​​​​​

​​​​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.​​

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

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