Get Official Document Authentication Through Certifications and Apostilles 

Our Department can authenticate your public documents–such as marriage certificates, adoption paperwork, or business filings–for use outside the U.S. 


What is an apostille or official document certification?

By authenticating a document with an apostille or certification, the Department is affirming that the official who signed and affixed their seal to the document is an elected or appointed Pennsylvania public official.

Examples of common documents that require authentication for international use are: 

  • business documents (articles of incorporation, certificates of good standing, bylaws) 
  • adoption paperwork (home studies, letters of reference, birth certificates, marriage certificates)
  • foreign study or education documents (diplomas, transcripts)
  • documents to facilitate patents, trademarks, dual citizenship, or international relations  

Apostilles and certifications are not required or issued for documents being used only within the United States.


Gather and Verify Your Documents

Before getting your documents to us for authentication, be sure you have everything you need.

You can ensure timely processing times by following these steps:

  • Ensure your documents are original copies, not photocopies. They must be signed by the proper Pennsylvania official and contain their official seal. 
  • Identify the country where the documents will be used.  
  • Make sure any county document is signed by the clerk in charge of the county office. Documents signed by an assistant or deputy clerk will not be accepted.  
  • Ensure marriage certificates are signed by the register of wills or clerk of the orphans' court (not just the officiant or clergyperson).  
  • Make sure death certificates are signed by the state registrar. Do not submit certificates signed by a local registrar. Birth certificates do not require notarization.  
  • Be sure any certificate of notarial act on notarized documents is in English. You may also provide a version in another language that the notary public comprehends, but it must be immediately adjacent to the English-language certificate.
  • Include the $15 per-document preparation fee. 

Need a Certificate of Good Standing for Notary Public?

When a Pennsylvania notary notarizes a document being filed in another state or country, that other jurisdiction may require proof of the notary's appointment. This proof is called a Certificate of Good Standing for Notary Public.

Before you request this certificate from our Department, you should check with the state or country where you will be filing your notarized document for their requirements.

To obtain a Certificate of Good Standing, write a letter to the Department of State's Bureau of Notaries, Commissions and Legislation and include the following information:

  • a request for a Certificate of Good Standing for Notary Public
  • the notary's full name and commission ID, if known
  • your name and full mailing address
  • payment of $15 per requested certificate


Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to contact the appropriate Pennsylvania county government office where the records were filed. Typically, such records are at a county Register of Wills office or an equivalent office.

Our Department can answer only questions related to the apostille/certification process in Pennsylvania. For information about this process in other states or jurisdictions, you should contact the appropriate agency for your needs, such as the appropriate state's Secretary of State office.

Obtain Your Apostille or Document Certification

The fastest, easiest way to get your documentation authenticated is to visit our office in the North Office Building. You can also mail us your documentation or put it into our drop box.

In person

Our Bureau of Notaries, Commissions and Legislation office is open to walk-ins from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (except state holidays).

Because walk-in requests are processed while you wait, please arrive by 4 p.m. so your documents can be processed before the end of the business day. Note that the public entrance to the North Office Building closes at 3 p.m. daily.

By mail

If you choose this method, be sure to follow these steps:

  1. Ensure all your documents are original copies, not photocopies.
  2. Include a cover letter or our Request for Legalization of Documents form. Identify the country where the documents will be used, and list the requestor's name, contact phone, email, and full mailing address.
  3. Enclose a personal check, money order, or cashier's check made payable to "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" in the amount of $15 per document (not per page). Checks and money orders must be issued by a U.S. institution or, if issued by a foreign bank, must be in U.S. dollars and contain a routing number. Cash cannot be accepted by mail or drop box.
  4. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of your documents. To use a courier service for document return, you must enclose a prepaid air bill with your order. To use UPS, list yourself as the sender and recipient on the air bill you provide. The Department does not accept FedEx or DHL for the return shipment of documents. We recommend purchasing tracking services for both the original envelope and the return envelope and keeping a record of your tracking numbers.

By drop box

You can place your order request in the Department's blue drop box, which is located in front of the Keystone Building at 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120.

If you choose this method, be sure to follow the same steps listed above for filing by mail.

Processing time for documents placed in the drop box is 5 to 7 business days. That processing time does not include mailing time.

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