An apostilled certificate of naturalization for Americans is a special form of authentication issued to documents to be used outside of the United States. It certifies the authenticity of the signature and the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted.

This is particularly crucial for documents such as a certificate of naturalization, which may need to be presented internationally for purposes like visa applications or dual citizenship procedures.

The apostille itself is a seal that ensures the document is recognized as genuine in all nations that are part of the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. This international treaty streamlined the legalization process of documents to verify their authenticity, making it easier for citizens to use their documents abroad with a recognized form of certification.

For an American certificate of naturalization, obtaining an apostille involves submitting the original or a certified copy of the document to a competent authority in the U.S., usually the Secretary of State in the state where the document was issued.

The Apostille process confirms if the document is genuine and notarized properly, allowing it to be accepted in other member countries without further authentication. This is essential for Americans who need to prove their citizenship status in international settings, facilitating smoother legal and governmental interactions abroad.

In this guide, we’ll explain what you need to know about the apostille process, including requirements, costs, tips, and more.

Apostille Requirements for American Citizens

birth certificate homeland security federal government dual citizenship mailing address naturalization certificate government agency immigration services immigration service notary public homeland security court documents naturalization certificate immigration services naturalization process federally issued documents foreign language military notary united states department immigration service original document original certificate authentications office An apostille is a form of certification set out by the Hague Convention of 1961, which allows documents issued in one signatory country to be recognized as valid in another, without further legalization. For American citizens, this certification is crucial when they need to use their documents internationally, whether for work, immigration, marriage, or education purposes.

In the United States, the process of obtaining an apostille varies by state, as each state’s Secretary of State or designated authority handles the certification.

Documents that commonly require an apostille include birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates, court orders, and educational documents like diplomas and transcripts. For federal documents, such as FBI background checks, the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. issues the apostille.

The key requirement for an apostille is that the document must be original and bear a recognized public official’s signature or a notarized signature. The apostille certifies the authenticity of this signature, the position of the official who signed the document, and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp that the document bears.

This process does not validate the document’s actual content but rather the legitimacy of its origin, simplifying international document recognition for American citizens abroad.

If you want to apostille your documents, please remember that the fee to authenticate official documents has increased. The current fee is $20 per document for all services. You need to use the older Form DS-4194 – Request for Authentication Services but include the new fee of $20 for all required services.

It takes around 10 – 11 weeks to process your application; presently, only the mail-in service is available. The in-person service is closed right now.

Things to Keep in Mind

man walking in united statesWhen preparing to submit essential documents for authentication or an apostille as an American, it’s important to consider the following key points to ensure a smooth process. By keeping these factors in mind, you can effectively prepare and submit your documents for authentication without unexpected hurdles.

Determine the Correct Authority: Depending on whether your document is a federal or state document, you need to submit it to the appropriate authority. State documents (like birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.) go to the state Secretary of State’s office or another designated state agency. Federal documents (such as FBI background checks) require authentication by the U.S. Department of State.

Check Document Requirements: Ensure that your documents meet the specific requirements for authentication. They must be original or certified copies from an acceptable authority and must include a public official’s signature that the authentication will recognize.

Know the Destination Country’s Requirements: Since apostilles are used for countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention, confirm whether the destination country is a member. If it is not, the document might need to go through a more extensive legalization process involving the destination country’s embassy or consulate.

Prepare for Fees: There are fees associated with obtaining an apostille or authentication. These fees vary depending on the state and the type of document. Check in advance to know how much you need to pay to budget accordingly.

Allow Sufficient Processing Time: Authentication and apostille requests can take time to process, especially if they are handled by mail. Consider the time it will take to send, process, and return your documents, and plan your schedule accordingly to avoid delays in your plans that depend on these documents.

How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments. 

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application. 

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Frequently Asked Questions About an Apostille Certificates of US Naturalization

What is an apostilled certificate of US naturalization?

An apostilled certificate of naturalization is a form of authentication issued to a naturalization certificate indicating that it is legitimate and authentic for use abroad. This certification is recognized by countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961.

Who can apostille a document in the USA?

The State Secretary of State offices can apostille a document in the USA. If the Federal government issues your document, the Department of State office will be responsible for the certification. Moreover, county clerks, statewide officials, and notary public officials can also apostille a document in the USA.

What countries require an apostille?

105 Member countries of the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 require an apostille.

Why do I need an Apostille for my Certificate of Naturalization?

If you are planning to use your Certificate of Naturalization outside the United States, particularly in countries that are part of the Hague Convention, you will need an apostille to certify its authenticity. This is commonly required for dual citizenship applications, marriage registrations, work visas, and other legal processes abroad.

Where can I obtain an Apostille for my Certificate of Naturalization?

In the United States, you can obtain an apostille for your Certificate of Naturalization from the Secretary of State’s office in the state where your document was issued or notarized. For federal documents, you may also need to approach the U.S. Department of State.

How long does it take to get an Apostille for a Certificate of Naturalization?

The processing time can vary significantly depending on the state and the specific office handling the request. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. It’s advisable to check with the specific Secretary of State’s office or the U.S. Department of State for accurate processing times.

What documents do I need to submit to get an Apostille for my Certificate of Naturalization?

You will need to submit the original or a certified copy of the Certificate of Naturalization along with the request form for an apostille. Some states may require additional documentation, such as an application form or a copy of your photo ID, so it’s important to check the specific requirements of the state where you are applying.