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Authenticate Signatures of Louisiana Officials

Apostille and Authentication Certificates

Representatives from various nations met on Oct. 5, 1961 at the Hague in Holland to discuss international law. At this meeting, the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (known as the "Hague Convention") was formed. Since then, more than 60 countries have joined the Hague Convention, including the United States of America. A designated official from each country, or subdivision of that country, is responsible for authenticating notarized documents.

Documents which are notarized and forwarded to another country require verification or legalization of the notary's signature and official title prior to their acceptance by the foreign embassy or consulate of that country. The treaty allows the issuance of a single document known as an "apostille," a French word meaning "note."  Non-member countries receive a "Certificate of Authentication." Both fully entitle the notarized document to be recognized by the foreign country. View a complete list of foreign countries that require apostille certificates. All other countries use the Certificate of Authentication.

What are the effects of an apostille?

An apostille only certifies the authenticity of the signature or seal of the person or authority that signed or sealed the public document and the capacity in which it was done.

Apostilles do not certify the content of the public document to which it relates. They do not grant authority and they do not give any additional weight to the content of the underlying documents. An apostille may never be used for the recognition of a document in the country where that document was issued. Apostilles are strictly for use of public documents abroad. Apostilles will not be issued for documents intended for use within the United States.

One of the many functions of the Louisiana Department of State is to issue apostilles and certificates of authentication. Our office determines which document is required for legalization using updated information directly from the Hague Convention on Private International Law. Our office certifies the signature of the acknowledging Louisiana official e.g., notary publics, clerks of court, deputy clerks of court, ex-officio notary, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, judges, justices of the peace and the registrar of vital records which are affixed to State of Louisiana documents only. We also certify official transcripts and diplomas signed by Louisiana state accredited university registrars, presidents, deans, etc.

In order for the Secretary of State to authenticate your document, our office will need:

  • The original document which requires legalization

    • Documents issued by the Clerks of court and the Louisiana Department of Vital Records do not have to be notarized for legalization. We cannot accept photocopies of these records. To order a birth or death certificate, please contact the Department of Vital Records.

    • Documents that are not issued with a certification, or are certified by individuals who are not on record with the Louisiana Secretary of State, must be notarized by a Louisiana Public Notary for us to accept them for legalization.

    • Notarized documents must fully comply with Louisiana Notary Law or the document will be returned for correction. The printed name of the notary and their notary identification number must appear beneath their signature.

  • The fee is $20 per document. The fee is reduced to $10 per document if the content is related to an adoption. We may require corroborating evidence to show that your documents are related to an adoption. 

We process documents for walk-in service Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm, except on state holidays and office closures.

Mail in service is accepted. When using our mail-in service additional items will be required. These items are:

  • A written request for legalization of your document stating the country to which the document will be sent. Please include a daytime telephone number so that we may resolve any issues that would prevent us from authenticating your document. An authentication request form has been created to help with this requirement.

  • A pre-paid mailing envelope or a completed return label must be provided for us to return your documents by courier service. We do not pay for return courier service.

    • Please do not list the Secretary of State’s address on the return label.

    • For mail sent via USPS please use the following address:

Louisiana Secretary of State

Commissions Division

P.O. Box 94125

Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125

  • For mail sent via FedEX, UPS, or DHL please use our physical address:

Louisiana Secretary of State

Commissions Division

8585 Archives Ave.

Baton Rouge, LA 70809

If you have any questions please contact the Commissions Division by email to commissions@sos.la.gov or by phone at (225) 922-0330.