Apostille or Authentication

apostille authentication notaryApostille or Authentication

Notarized documents that are going to a foreign country often require an apostille or authentication certificate.  This provides additional security and validation of the notary stamp.

To get an apostille in Colorado, the notary will notarize the document in the normal manner.  Then, if the customer requires an apostille or authentication, the document must be mailed or delivered to the Colorado Secretary of State (SOS).  A paid courier service could also be used if you need same day service.

[Note: during the pandemic, documents must be delivered to the SOS office by U.S. Mail only. Walk-in service is not available.]

Request Form to SOS

The customer must fill out and submit an Apostilles and Authentications Request Form, follow the instructions, list the destination country, and pay a service fee to the SOS for the authentication.  The SOS will look up the record for the notary who has stamped the document.

The SOS will verify that the notary is in good standing, that the notary commission is not expired, and will verify the notary signature on the document matches the notary signature kept on file.  The notary provides a signature on the notary application form.

The SOS does not verify the contents of the document.  If the notarization is done correctly, and the notary signature is valid, and the notary is in good standing, then the SOS will attach an authentication certificate, including the seal of the State of Colorado, and an authentication number, to the document.

Here is a Sample Colorado Apostille from the Colorado SOS, for use in Argentina.

Apostille or Certificate of Magistracy

If the destination country has approved the Hague Convention of 1961, then the authentication used is a standardized certificate called an apostille, which is a French word.  If the destination country has not approved the Hague Convention, then a notary Certificate of Magistracy is attached. For a list of participating countries, see Hague Convention members.

After authentication, the SOS will mail the document back to the customer, or the customer may choose to pay an additional fee for expedited service to have the document authenticated while the customer waits.

The notary may choose to offer apostille agent service for a fee to assist the customer in obtaining the apostille or authentication, or the customer may choose to do it.  Some notaries around the country specialize in processing apostilles, authentications, and documents that require assistance from a foreign embassy or consulate.  There are some foreign embassies and consulates in Denver and Boulder.

County Clerk Authentication

In some states, the notary commission must be authenticated by the county clerk before going to the SOS. These states are Kentucky, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Tennessee.

U.S. State Department Authentication

For documents signed or notarized by a 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, the document must be authenticated by an apostille or authentication certificate from the U.S. State Department Office of Authentications.

Documents notarized by a state notary and authenticated by a SOS office do not require further authentication from the U.S. State Department.

Hague Convention Non-Member Authentication

For countries that are not members of the Hague Convention, after authentication by state or federal officials in the U.S., then the document must be authenticated by a foreign consulate or embassy before use in the destination country. Check the embassy website for the country for more information.

Verify an Apostille or Authentication

If you receive a document authenticated by the Colorado SOS, you can verify it by using the SOS website at https://www.sos.state.co.us/auth/VerifyApostilleSearch.do  Enter the authentication number and issue date.  Here is a sample verification:

This Authentication was issued by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on the date below.
Number: 3021269965
Issue date: January 18, 2013

Signer’s name: GERALD J LUCAS
Signer’s title: Notary Public, State of Colorado
Issued for use in the country of: Argentina

Certificate of Fact

Note:  For documents going to Puerto Rico, or other US territories, the SOS does not issue an apostille, since the destination is not a foreign country.  Only countries can sign treaties, such as the Hague Treaty.

On written request, the SOS can issue a Certificate of Fact that confirms that the named notary is or was valid and in good standing in Colorado from start date to end date.  This is a stand-alone document.  No notarized document is needed.  It does not certify the correctness or authenticity of any notarization by the notary.

The SOS website allows the public to look up the history and commission status for any Colorado notary by notary name or notary ID number and view or print a computer-generated, time-stamped Certificate of Fact, with a confirmation number, at no cost, at Verify Colorado Notary.

See sample Colorado Notary Certificate of Fact Gerald J Lucas.

Foreign Language Documents

The document may be in a foreign language, but the notary certificate must be in English.  The notary must be able to communicate with the document signer directly, without using a translator.

The Colorado SOS has a request form and instructions on their website explaining the process for obtaining an apostille or authentication.

Colorado Notary Training includes information that describes the procedure for an apostille or authentication.

Visit our website for Colorado Springs Mobile Notary services or Colorado Notary Training classes.

[Last-Modified Date 2020-11-05] added link to SOS apostille and authentication request form PDF

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