Tag Archives: CA apostille

New California “Apostille” Causes CA-China Rift


“California disasters” are typically related to earthquakes, wildfires and mudslides, but the California Secretary of State has created a man-made disaster with a recent decision. Starting on January 1, 2017, they combined the CA Apostille (used for Apostille countries) and the Certification Certificate (used for non-apostille countries) into one certificate…and called it an “apostille” of all things! There is some confusing footnote on the new certificate that says “this certificate does not constitute an Apostille when it is presented to a country which is not a member of the Hague Convention,” which as clear as something Trump’s Kellyanne Conway or Sean Spicer would say.

As a result, we now have Washington DC’s Chinese Embassy in an international document dispute and stalemate with California’s Secretary of State over the new certificate as the embassy will not accept this revised certificate titled “Apostille,” since they are not an apostille country. Apostille companies dealing with Washington DC’s Chinese Embassy have documents piling up in their offices. California should come to their senses and quickly revise the form to more clearly represent an Apostille/Certification combo document. And maybe the California government could spend a little more time thinking of the possible consequences of their actions and getting some feedback from companies and government agencies that accept the certificate before doing something like this again.

Caveat Emptor: CA Apostilles Not Accepted by All Countries

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.

CA apostille globe with authentication of California sealIt’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.

CA Secretary of State Makes Big Change in LA Office

We noticed a big announcement on the California Secretary of State’s website that took affect on February 1, 2012: That the Los Angeles regional office of the Secretary of State can now authenticate notaries’ signatures. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, as previously when you needed a California apostille for many foreign-bound public documents, you had to travel to the County Clerk where the notary that notarized your document was commissioned (which is indicated on the notary’s stamp).

For Los Angeles residents and businesses, that meant traveling to Norwalk, CA to the Los Angeles County Clerk to get an LA notary’s signature authenticated or your local county clerk in the county where the notary is commissioned (unless ordering by the more time-consuming mail or online method). Norwalk is about 17 miles away from the Secretary of State’s office in downtown Los Angeles, the last step in the apostille process.

Now the notary authentication (of the notary’s signature on notarized documents) and the apostille processing can all be done at the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Secretary of State…with one exception: If the receiving authority still wants the County Clerk to be the official authenticating the notary’s signature. Then you would still need to go there before it is processed at the Secretary of State. It  makes no sense why the receiving authority would still require that a county clerk authenticate the notary’s signature when the Secretary of State is a higher level of authentication…but that’s the often illogical world of dealing with authenticating documents.

If the receiving authority is fine with the Secretary of State authenticating the notary’s signature, then this has the potential to save an enormous amount of time and money for apostille customers and companies. Previously, the main Sacramento Secretary of State office was the only office to authenticate all notary signatures in one location.

People still definitely need to make a trip to Norwalk county clerk or another CA county clerk (unless obtaining by mail or online) when getting a  CA birth certificate, marriage or death certificate apostilled, as a “certified” birth, marriage or death certificate has to first be obtained there. People who receive their certified certificates from the County Clerk and don’t have time to go to the Secretary of State as well can contact California Apostille Agents to handle that part of the process for them (at 310-995-8225).

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California Apostilles: Learning Process the Hard Way

As the owner of the California apostille processing and expediting company, California Apostille Agents, I get a lot of opportunities to watch people submit their documents to the California Secretary of State to try to obtain a California apostille for their foreign-bound documents. I am amazed by the number of people who do not have the proper instructions and necessary steps to get their documents properly processed. I have seen many people wait for long periods at the Secretary of State’s office after traveling far distances to be told that the document that are presenting “is not ready yet.”

In the case of people who go the regional office of the Secretary of State’s office in Los Angeles, people are often told they either need to first go to the County Clerk in Norwalk, CA, which is a good 18 miles away, to get a “certified” birth certificate (or marriage or death certificate).  Then, they can have to return to the Secretary of State’s office to finish the birth certificate apostille process. Depending on what time of day it is, there is a good likelihood that that person will not be able to get to Norwalk and back the Secretary of State’s office the same day and may have to take off another day of work to get the document processed…not to mention all the extra gas and time expended.

Or, if not a vital record like a birth certificate, the apostille customer may not have notarized their document and will have to locate a notarypublic and then return to the Secretary of State’s office for notary authentication and the apostille.

Consumers Need to Be Aware of All the Steps

With the way California is so spread out, consumers need to find out all the steps involved in this process to avoid learning the hard way that they missed a step. You can give California Apostille Agents a call at 310-995-8225 to discuss your apostille project or you can review the CA Secretary of State website information at  http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/notary/authentication.htm. In the case of birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates, they need to be certified by a California County Clerk, with a county clerk signature. Typically, that means ordering a completely new birth, marriage or death certificate, as the one you currently have is likely not certified unless you asked for it specifically and told them it was for an apostille. For most other documents needing a California apostille, the document needs to be notarized or there needs to be some type of statement attached or written on the document that can be signed in front of the notary. Then this notary signature needs to be authenticated (in LA, it can be done by the Secretary of State regional office).

Getting Bad Information about Going Directly to CA Secretary of State’s Office

One of the other main causes for this confusion is that people are often given bad information from the non-governmental organization or company that requests the apostille in the first place. These organizations often advise people to go directly to the Secretary of State’s office to pick up their apostille, and leave out critical earlier steps.

To avoid having any problems with getting an apostille for your birth, marriage or death certificate documents, you can contact California Apostille Agents. Only you can order the certified birth, marriage or death certificate from the County Clerk’s office. But, we can take it from there once we receive the county clerk-certified documents from you. Call us at 310-995-8225 or email us at caapostilleagents@gmail.com

 

 

If you ever need a NY Notary or NY Apostille, call 917-693.3692.