The Philippines is the latest country to join the Hague Convention of 1961 that allows the use of the California Apostille for legal documents that require certification when being used in their country. This eliminates the need for us to go through the extra step of processing your documents through the Philippines consulate in California for certain legal documents being used in their countries. Contact California Apostille Agents at 213-999-4176 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your notary and apotille needs.
Every day in California (and all over the rest of the US), thousands of people are asked to obtain a “certified copy” of their passport or drivers license (as proof of their identity) or a utility bill (as proof of their address) by having it “certified or notarized” by a CA notary public or other state notary. These certified copies are typically needed for business or government domestic or international transactions. These requests often come from other countries outside the US where this request is commonplace.
Unfortunately, almost all US states, including California, do not allow notaries do carry out this much-needed task and this policy creates a great deal of chaos. The notary has to explain to the person requesting it that they can have the person on the copied document make and sign a self-attesting statement that the copy is a true and correct photocopy (using the official form shown to the left) and then the notary can notarize that statement and signature.The notary cannot make the statement themselves that it is a true photocopy or true copy. The signer will usually want to check with the receiving authority that they will accept this alternate method. The lawyers and bankers from the other countries often cannot understand why this is a such a problem here when they do it every day in their country for a multitude of customers. The receiving authority usually agrees to it as they don’t really have much choice, but it is quite a hassle and can be quite time-consuming to resolve. These notarized documents also usually require a CA apostille when being sent to another country (or state dept certification if not going to an apostille country), when notarized by a CA notary.
This then begs the question, why can’t CA notaries and other state’s notaries be given the authority to compare a copy and an original and certify that it is a true copy? Notaries are public officials sworn to take oaths of signers and acknowledgements and are given a great deal of responsibility to identify signers. Why couldn’t they be given the added responsibility to carry out this task? There is a giant vacuum in this area as thousands of organization around the world need these certified copies for a large variety of transactions and, yet, there is no one designated to carry out this much-needed task in most states in the US. It’s time US or state government officials stepped up and instilled some common sense into this broken system and made this right.
As of May 27, 2018, Bolivia joined the Apostille Convention to help reduce the paperwork and bureaucracy of legalizing documents for use in that country. We can now provide a California apostille for your foreign-bound documents in a 2-step process (notarization and apostille at the CA State Department without the need to visit the Bolivian Consulate).
The California Legislature passed a new law that adds a mandatory disclaimer to all notarizations executed after January 1, 2015. The new disclaimer text box (left) must be displayed at the top of all notarizations executed in California. Any notarizations that take place in California without this disclaimer can be rejected as an invalid notarization, especially when presented to the CA Secretary of State for an apostille as they are scrutinizing your documents for exactly this type of detail.
Legislators probably added more problems than they solved with this mandatory text addition. This has made it more difficult to be able to notarize/stamp the document on the same page as the signature, which is often requested by the receiving authority, as there is often not enough room for an additional box of text directly above wherever you have room to squeeze in your notary wording and stamps on a document. Also, organizations that do not stay up-to-date on the very latest changes by the legislators often have printed the notary wording on the document already right under the signature section and then a notary cannot notarize it, since there is no room to add the mandatory disclaimer box above it. Also, the document may be a PDF, where you can’t add anything to it at all. Then the entire notarization has to be tabled until the document can be fixed, or you have to cross out their notarization and add a current notary attachment, which makes the document look rather unprofessional. This also requires another stamp to be added to the notary bag that is already bursting with all the various stamps and forms for when it can fit above the notary section on the signature page.
There are always things you can do to make slightly vague concepts more clear–such as what a notarization actually does. But there are repercussions from making such clarifications the law and we don’t think this was the solution. We tend to doubt they consulted with any current notaries to see how it would effect the every-day notarization process. If this disclaimer was really necessary, a better solution would have been to attach a separate page with this disclaimer information behind the actual notarization page or at the end of the document, so it would not interfere with the notarization section and layout.
Many people trying to obtain apostilles for their documents don’t realize that documents such as FBI background checks or drug-related reports from the Food and Drug Administration being used in an apostille country must get US apostilles from Washington DC for their documents, not California apostilles. Here are the requirements below from the US Department of State’s website:
U.S. Department of State-Issued Apostille Requirements
Federally issued documents destined for use in participating Hague countries and their territories require an Apostille issued by the U.S. Department of State. Documents requiring an apostille issued by the U.S. Department of State are those which have been signed by one of the following:
— U.S. Federal Official
— an American Consular Officer
— a Military Notary, Judge Advocate (10 USC 1044a), or a foreign Consul diplomatic official registered with the State Department Office of Protocol.
Note: All certifications must include a legible signature of the official’s name, title and seal of the agency.
Please submit a completed Request of Authentications Service DS-4194 form with all of your requests. In Section 4 of the DS-4194, the “Country of Use” please put the actual name of the country the document will be used in. This information for each document must be specified before the document(s) can be processed. The “Country of Use” is the actual country the document will be used in.
California Apostille Agents can help you obtain US apostilles through our affiliates in Washington D.C. Please call us for a quote.
One mistake many Californians make when trying to “legalize” or authenticate an official document for foreign use is to not check whether the country they are sending the documents to is one that accepts the more streamlined CA apostille process for authenticating their document or uses the older, more archaic style of legalization or certification. The older method needs to follow many of the steps the apostille system requires but also needs to be processed or legalized at a consulate in this country (and sometime in the receiving country) and possibly the State Department in Washington D.C. as well. About 100 countries use the apostille system and a little less than 100 countries do not.
The more civilized countries, in general, typically use the apostille system. Countries that run things with a little more of an iron-fist mentality or received a low grade in the “don’t play well with others” category–like China, Iraq, Iran, or North Korea–and did not sign the Hague Convention Treaty of 1961, use this antiquated system that puts people through the ringer to get a document properly certified for use in their country.
With the older system, in addition to getting something notarized and/or certified by the county clerk , and sometimes certified by the Secretary of State as well, you get to spend a good amount of your quality time at the consulate of the country you are sending the document to. While there, you have to carefully avoid any procedural minefields, such as not making the proper amount of required copies or having the wrong type of money order.
It’s a common occurrence at one of the US Brazilian consulates for people to wait on line for an hour or two only to find out that the consulate only accepts money orders, and, they have to be “postal money orders,” not bank or drugstore money orders. And, that’s always especially good to find out when it’s a US Federal Holiday and the post office is closed that day…so you have to come back on another day and start all over. They also have miniscule 2″ x 3″ cards pasted in hard-to-see areas that announce that “no cell phone are permitted” and the administrators, straight out of the movie Midnight Express, relish the opportunity to chastise anyone breaking their rule. Even more comical, is that some rooms at this consulate have no signs about cell phones being prohibited and you are supposed to know this by being psychic.
If you want to confirm whether you will be spared this kind of abuse and whether the country you need to send your documents to uses the apostille system instead, click on this link: Apostille countries. Of course, just to be fair, there are some very nice consulates, usually the smaller ones, that do not make a sport of ruining your day.
*Documents that need to go through some type of legalization process usually are public or official documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, powers of attorney, certificates of incorporation and notarized copies of affidavits related to IDs or bank statements that are used to corroborate some aspect of your identity or personal or financial information about you. By validating the signatures of the public officials included in the documents, the various government seals give the receiving authority of your documents some reassurance that the documents are valid (even though their signoffs don’t guarantee the accuracy of the contents of the document).
**The precise legalization path that documents being apostilled need to take varies by document type. For example, birth certificates don’t get notarized, while powers of attorney documents do. Birth certificates typically need to be certified by a county clerk, while notarized powers of attorney can usually be authenticated by a country clerk or a Secretary of State. It can be beneficial to use an apostille service with some expertise in this area to determine the precise path your document needs to take.