Birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, adoption records – all examples of important government-issued documents, and all examples of documents that you may need when you travel or move overseas. Except here’s the catch – what if the foreign government won’t recognize your documents because they were issued elsewhere? That’s where exemplification and apostille step in.
Both processes are the same in effect. A notary public or other authorized body will authenticate your document, essentially telling the recipient “I, (the governing body), certify that this is a true and correct copy of an official document.” The primary difference is that apostille refers to certified documents to be received by foreign states that are parties to the Hague Convention, whereas exemplification refers to certified documents going to any other foreign state. A list of foreign states that are members of the Hague Convention (and therefore should receive apostille) can be found here.
Secretaries of State can provide both apostille and exemplified documents. Note, however, that the language may vary by state. In Illinois, an Apostille refers to the actual document – not just the seal of authentication – to be used in foreign Hague Convention states, whereas documents to be used in any other foreign state – sometimes referred to as exemplified documents – are called Certificates. The application process is the same for both:
On the application, simply note the destination country for the requested document, and the Secretary of State will do the rest to ensure that you receive the proper type of authentication. Note that certain documents will need first to be notarized. More information regarding applications, including some types of documents that are typically authenticated and which documents need first to be notarized, can be found here.