The intended destination of a document determines the required type of certification.
An Apostille is issued for documents intended for use only in foreign countries that are party to the Hague Treaty.
A Certificate of Authority is issued for all other countries, many of which will only accept documents certified at both the state and federal levels. The original document must be signed in front of a notary public and must contain original signatures.
The apostille is a creation of an international treaty, the Hague Convention of 1961. The United States of America joined the Hague Convention in 1981. The Convention provides for, among other things, the certification of public documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention. In accordance with the provisions of the Convention, this office issues apostilles only for documents intended for use in foreign countries that also are signatories of the Convention. This document is the equivalent of a Certificate of Authority used in countries that are not participants in the Hague Treaty.
An apostille has the same requirements, the same fee, and the same instructions as a Certificate of Authority. Apostilles cannot be issued for use in the United States Certificate of Authority.
U.S. Department of State Authentications Office
Further information may be obtained from the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office or U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs for International Adoption.