What is Document Authentication? And How to Get Documents Authentication?

All the documents you have here are acceptable anywhere you go in the U.S. However, if you go abroad, they may not be accepted. So, what should you do to authenticate what you have especially if your plan is working or studying abroad?

If you need an authentication document, you should contact the U.S. Department of State. The Office of Authentications could be reached by mail or phone. An appointment is necessary to deliver your documents.

List of Document Authentication

The Office of Authentications provides a variety of documents for authentication. The list of documents includes:

  • Company bylaws
  • Powers of attorney
  • Trademarks
  • Diplomas
  • Treaties
  • Warrants
  • Extraditions
  • Agreements
  • Couriers letters
  • Certificates of good standing

The Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of official documents like a birth certificate, marriage certificate, and court orders so that they are recognized in foreign countries.

How to Authenticate your Documents

Before you travel to another country, get your documents authenticated in the U.S. Since 1983, all U.S. embassies and consulate general do not verify any documents. So, it must be done here before going abroad.

Authenticate College, Universities, and Other Post-Secondary Institutions Documents

To begin the process:

  • Obtain an official copy of the credentials you need. Before a notary public, the registrar should execute an affidavit to show the validity of the document.
  • Submit the document to the State Notary Public Administration for authentication. An Apostille certificate is an affix if the country accepting the document is part of the Hague Apostille Convention.
  • Otherwise, a state authentication certificate is affixed for countries not included in the treaty.

Authenticate Public and Secondary Schools

  • Obtain an official copy of the credentials you need. Before a notary public, the principal or another authorized official should execute an affidavit to show the validity of the document.
  • Submit the document to the State Notary Public Administration for authentication. An Apostille certificate is affixed if the country accepting the document is part of the Hague Apostille Convention.
  • Otherwise, a state authentication certificate is affixed for countries not included in the treaty.

How to Request Authentication Services

By Mail

You can request authentication by mail. Before you submit any document, make sure you meet the requirements for each document you will authenticate. Submit by mail:

  • A completed DS-4194 – Request of Authentications Service
  • Include the document(s) requiring authentication
  • Fees
  • A pre-paid envelope with your return address for your documents

Mail the packet to:

Office of Authentications

U.S. Department of State

CA/PPT/S/TO/AUT

44132 Mercure Circle

P.O. Box 1206

Sterling, VA 20166

The average processing time for mail-in requests is 12 business days after receiving the documents.

By Appointment (only for urgent cases)

Requirements for urgent cases:

  • Life-or-death situations which include serious illness, injury, or death of a family member
  • Proof of international travel within 48 hours

An appointment is necessary. Call (202) 485-8000 to make an appointment.

At the meeting, provide:

  • A completed DS-4192 – Request of Authentication Service
  • The document(s) requiring authentication
  • Fees
  • Proof of emergency and itinerary

Hours

10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Monday through Friday (except federal holidays)

By Drop-Off and Pick-Up

Drop-off and pick-up service are for routine and non-urgent service. At the time of submitting the documents, once verified, you will receive a receipt and a pick-up date. The process takes about three days.

You should submit these documents a drop-off:

  • A completed DS-4192 – Request of Authentication Service
  • The document(s) requiring authentication (only 15 documents per day)
  • Fees

Hours

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Monday through Friday (except federal holidays)

Payment Methods

The cost to authenticate a document is $8. Acceptable payment can be a credit card, check or money order, and cash. A credit card payment is acceptable at pick-up or appointment only.

If you mail in your documents, you can pay by check or money order. Write a check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of State. If your check is returned due to insufficient funds, you must pay $25.

You can pay with cash at pick-up and appointment. Exact payment is required. No will not receive change.

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