The Apostille is a form of certification that can be affixed to a document for use in countries that are members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The Apostille itself is not a stamp, but rather a sticker with a seal. To obtain an apostille, documents must be translated into French or English, notarized and authenticated by the state they were issued in.
The Apostille process was created as part of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. This convention was designed to standardize international business transactions by making legal documents easier to transport across borders.
The United States joined this convention in 1968, which means that U.S. citizens traveling abroad can have documents notarized by American authorities and then use them for identification purposes in other countries that are part of the treaty.
Apostilles do not require any additional signatures or stamps from foreign governments or embassies — just an original signature from someone authorized to do so by their home country’s law enforcement agencies.
In order for the document to be accepted by foreign governments, it must have an apostille. An apostille is a certificate that confirms the authenticity of a signature and seal on a document. The American notary public who has verified the identity of both parties and witnessed their signatures also signs and seals the document.
The document is then sent to the secretary of state of the state in which it was notarized for an apostille. The process usually takes about two weeks. Your signature is not certified by your state’s secretary of state unless you are applying for a passport or another form of identification that requires one.
If you need your document apostilled fast, you can hire a professional Houston apostille service to do it for you. This is an option that you should consider if you need your document apostilled within 24 hours.