Authentications and Apostilles

Contents

 

General Information

Other countries often require that official signatures and notarizations on your documents be corroborated by the Secretary of State before they will accept them. In Alaska this job is one of the many traditional Secretary of State roles that is handled by our Lieutenant Governor (Alaska does not have a Secretary of State). To obtain the Lieutenant Governor's certificate of authentication or Apostille it will be necessary for you to drop off or send your original documents to the Lieutenant Governor's office in Juneau.

Your documents must be notarized by a commissioned Alaskan notary or must be the original document that is produced by an Alaskan official. After corroborating the Alaska notary or state official's signature, the Lieutenant Governor creates and attaches the required certificate to your document and returns it to you or to another destination of your choosing.

There are two different certificates used, the Apostille and the Certificate of Authority. It is not necessary for you to know which certificate you need but you do need to tell us which country will be receiving your documents so we can properly prepare your documents.

Apostilles are required by member countries of the Hague Conference on Legalization, although some non-member countries also accept the Apostille. A list of Hague Conference on Legalization members is available on the Hague's web site The countries listed are official members of the conference. Countries not listed will accept the Lt. Governor's Certificate of Authority instead of the Apostille.   These certificates are only issued for legitimate foreign use per international treaty.  If the validity of the request is ambiguous, we may enlist the assistance of a federal agency or bureau to help us determine if it is appropriate to issue a foreign authentication certificate in any particular instance. 

If you require certification of a notarization for use within the United States instead of a foreign country, we also provide a Certificate of Good Standing that is only valid for use within the U.S.   The requirements for obtaining a Certificate of Good Standing are identical to the foreign certificates - just indicate as part of your order that the certificate is for use within the United States.

This process requires strict adherence to specific document standards. The Lieutenant Governor will not authenticate documents that do not comply with the following standards. Please take the time to read the rest of these instructions carefully. If your documents do not meet the standards, they can't be authenticated until they are corrected.

You will need to mail the original documents, a $5.00 fee for each certificate, a note with your contact information, the address to which you would like your completed order returned and the name of the country receiving your documents to:
 

Mailing address for authentications orders:  Office of the Lt. Governor, Authentications Department, 240 Main Street, Room 301, Juneau, Alaska 99801

For information or help, please contact the Notary Administrator:
(907) 465-3509
(907) 465-5400 fax
notary@alaska.gov

Your fees may be paid with a personal check or money order payable to the State of Alaska, or by Visa or Mastercard. Your documents will be returned by regular USPS mail to any domestic address unless you provide for another method of return. If you would like to speed up the return of your documents please read the section on shipping choices.

We will do our best to return your completed order the same day that we receive it. If you have any questions, special requirements or would like to discuss your particular situation please call or email the Notary Administrator for personal assistance.

Document Requirements

Your documents must have original signatures and must be properly notarized by a commissioned Alaska Notary Public, or they must be official certified copies of Alaska Vital Records, Court or other official state documents.

1. Original signatures.

The Lieutenant Governor authenticates the signatures of the officials that have notarized or certified your documents. The official signatures on your documents must be originals or if official state documents, must be the same document issued to you by the state. Photocopies of signatures are not acceptable for authentication. If you need more than one copy of the same document authenticated it will be necessary to create duplicate originals and have each copy notarized separately. If you need more than one authenticated copy of an official state issued document it will be necessary for you to obtain as many officially certified copies as you will need.

2. The Notarizations must meet statutory requirements.

Unless you are sending official certified copies of Vital Statistic, Court or other official State issued documents, your documents must be notarized. Please screen the notarizations to make sure they are complete and comply with statutory requirements.  If you need help finding out if your documents meet the requirements, please contact the Notary Administrator or fax your documents to the Notary Administrator for screening before you mail them. A properly notarized document in Alaska has:

  1. The Principal's signature on a statement or on a document that otherwise obligates the Principal in some manner (the Principal is the person whose signature is notarized.)
  2. A notarial certificate. A sample notarial certificate can be viewed below.
  3. The notary's signature.
  4. The expiration date of the notary's commission.
  5. An imprint of the notary's seal that is reproducible if photocopied or faxed. Embossed seals must be shaded over with pencil or ink to comply with Alaska law.

Notarized documents must contain all of these elements. Improperly notarized documents cannot be authenticated. You will have to return them to the notary for correction before you present them for authentication.

The notarial certificate is wording that states the details of the notarization. It usually appears on the document following the Principal's signature although it can be on a separate piece of paper attached to the document. No specific wording is required by Alaska law, but the law requires a notarial certificate on all notarizations. The following sample is provided to help you figure out if your document contains a notarial certificate.

Sample Notarial Certificate

State of Alaska
_______ Judicial District

Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me at
_______________________(city),
by __________________________(signer's name)
on _______________(date).

____________________________
Notary Public's Signature

My Commission Expires: ___________________

The notarial certificate is the necessary skeleton of the notarization. It ties the other elements together and provides details about the notarial act being performed. Even if the notary signs and has affixed their seal the notarial act does not comply with statutory requirements if the notarial certificate is missing.

3. Commissioned Notaries Public vs. Noncommissioned notaries.

Alaska statutes grant U.S. Postmasters, commissioned Military Officers, Alaskan Justices, Judges, Magistrates and Clerks of Court the power to perform notarial acts as noncommissioned notaries.  The Lieutenant Governor does not keep signature files for noncommissioned notaries, so their notarizations usually can't be authenticated. We can collect Court employee signatures in many situations, but we do not automatically maintain signature files for them. Collecting these signatures can take quite a bit of time and in many instances may not be possible at all.

The majority of notaries in Alaska are commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor. If at all possible you should try to have your documents notarized by a commissioned notary. The easiest way to locate a commissioned notary is to visit your bank. If you are having trouble locating a notary public, contact the Notary Administrator for help. If you want to make sure that your document has been notarized by a commissioned notary before you send it or check to see if we happen to have a particular court employee's signature on file please review the section on document screening.

4. Official certified copies of Alaska Vital Records (Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, etc.)

The Lt. Governor authenticates official certified copies of Vital Records that have been mailed directly to our office. The Vital Statistics office in Juneau will also directly accept orders for authenticated copies of vital records. If you order authenticated copies from Vital Statistics, they obtain the correct certificate from the Lieutenant Governor for you for an additional fee. Copies of vital records can be ordered online at http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/bvs/, or you can print the order form off and fax your order to them. Their online request/order form does not provide a method for indicating that you would like your copies authenticated. If you fax in your order you can use the margins to request authenticated copies, but you should follow up with your online or faxed order with a phone call to make sure they understand that you need authenticated copies and that you are not just ordering regular certified copies. You must provide them with the name of the country that will be receiving your vital records so be very clear about wanting the copy "authenticated for China," or "authenticated for Russia," etc.

If you need to order new copies of your vital records and have enough time, you can avoid the additional authentication fee charged by Vital Statistics by first ordering regular copies and then sending them yourself to the Lt. Governor for authentication. If you are in a hurry and need new copies as soon as possible, the fastest way to do it is to order authenticated copies directly from Vital Statistics and to pay their additional authentication fee.

For information or help with ordering copies of vital records, please contact the Alaska Vital Statistics office in Juneau at (907) 465-3392. Other Vital Statistics offices in the State will not necessarily be familiar with the authentication process and should be avoided if you are trying to order authenticated copies (regular certified copies can be obtained from any office in the state.)

It is against the law to make photocopies of your Alaska Vital Statistics documents (AS 18.50.320 (5)). The Lieutenant Governor will not be able to authenticate photocopies of Vital Statistic documents even if they have been properly notarized via the Copy Certification by Document Custodian process.

5. Official certified copies of Alaska Court documents.

The Lt. Governor will authenticate official certified copies of Court documents and documents that have been properly notarized by Court officials provided that we have their signatures on file (see "Other official state documents" below for details.) The Alaska Court System maintains an online directory at http://www.state.ak.us/courts/courtdir.htm, if you need contact information for ordering records.

6. Other official state documents.

The Lt. Governor collects signatures for various state officials for authentication purposes on an as-needed basis. If any signature is not already on file it will be necessary for us to collect it before we can process your order. Collection of signatures for this purpose requires the cooperation of the officials who signed your document. Although the officials contacted to date have been willing to help it is possible that we may eventually run into an official who refuses to cooperate. Also, we can only collect signatures from individuals who are currently employed. If we are unable to collect the signature -or if your copies are old and the official who signed it no longer works for the state - you will need to obtain new copies with signatures that we can work with or you will have to obtain notarized copies of the document. Getting what you need in this situation can be tricky. Please don't hesitate to contact the Notary Administrator for assistance if you are having trouble.

If you will be submitting official state documents for authentication it may speed up your order if you arrange for the Notary Administrator to screen your documents before you send them. This allows us to identify and attempt to collect any missing signatures while your order is enroute. If you choose not to take advantage of this service and your documents are not sufficient for authentication there may be a significant delay in processing your order while the missing signatures are being collected or while you are obtaining new copies of your documents.

Copy Certification By Document Custodian

Alaska's notaries do not have the authority to certify documents or photocopies of documents. When it is necessary to authenticate a photocopy of a document or a document has not been notarized at the time of issue it may be possible to use a process called Copy Certification By Document Custodian. Anybody except an individual functioning in the capacity of Notary Public can certify a document using this process. The person that is certifying the document signs a statement and their signature on that statement is notarized.

A properly executed Copy Certification By Document Custodian will meet the Lt. Governor's requirements for obtaining an Apostille or Certificate of Authority, but the finished product may not meet the requirements of the government to which you will be submitting your documents. Please contact the appropriate consulate and verify that a copy certified by this method will be acceptable. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of your Copy Certification By Document Custodian by the country that will be receiving your document, even if the notarization has been authenticated by our office.

It is against the law to make copies of your Alaska Vital Statistics documents (AS 18.50.320 (5)). The Lieutenant Governor will not be able to authenticate photocopies of Vital Statistic documents even if they have been properly notarized via the Copy Certification by Document Custodian process.

Photocopies of documents.

After you have determined that a Copy Certification By Document Custodian will be acceptable to the recipient country, create your photocopy, add the Copy Certification By Document Custodian notarial certificate to your document and obtain the services of a commissioned Notary Public to administer the oath and notarize your signature. It is most desirable to add the wording directly to the photocopy (front or back), but you can add a loose certificate (separate piece of paper containing the notarial wording) if necessary.

School transcripts and diplomas.

If you work with the registrar of your school in advance, they may be able to incorporate a notarial certificate into their normal copy certification process and provide you with a notarized original. These notarized originals are always preferable since it is the real document custodian's signature that is being notarized. Not all registrars will be familiar with this process so it may be necessary to have them read these instructions or see if they would be willing to contact the Notary Administrator to discuss your special needs.

The wording below is a template. Insert the appropriate information into the blanks as you write or type it onto your document. Most official certified copies (i.e. school transcripts) will already have a similar statement stamped or printed on the document. In that instance all that is required is to add a notarial certificate below the normal copy certification statement and signature.

Copy Certification By Document Custodian

State of Alaska
_________ Judicial District

I, _________(name)______________, hereby affirm that the attached

reproduction of ____(document description)_____ is a true, correct and

complete photocopy of a document in my possession.

_______________________________________________________
Signature and address of custodian of original document

Subscribed and sworn to before me this _(day)_day of _(month)_, _(year)_

________________________________
Notary's Signature
My Commission Expires: _____________

Links for ordering diplomas/transcripts from specific schools in Alaska:
- University of Alaska Fairbanks

 

Document Screening

Since incomplete documents cannot be processed and must either be returned for correction or new copies created and completed, we strongly suggest that you give us an opportunity to screen your documents before you actually send them for processing.

Faxing the notarized pages of your notarized documents prior to sending your order allows us to verify that your documents have been properly notarized by an actively commissioned Alaska notary (or that we will be able to authenticate the signatures of other State officials) and that they meet all of the requirements for authentication. This screening process also allows us to accomplish some of the necessary preparation work before we actually receive your original documents. Having this work done by the time we physically receive your order can mean the difference between being able to return your documents on the same day we receive them or having to wait until the following business day.

To take advantage of this service, fax only the notarized pages (or those that have been signed and sealed by a State official) of your documents to (907) 465-5400. Please include a cover sheet with your name, contact numbers and the name of the country that will be receiving your authenticated documents. We will review the notarizations and contact you to with the results. If your notarizations include embossed (a raised seal made with a crimping device) notary seals, please be sure to darken the raised portion of the seal with a pencil or ink before you send your fax. If steps are not taken to darken the seal it will not show up on the fax and will appear as an incomplete notarization.

Preparing Your Order

We will be focusing exclusively on the signatures of the officials who have signed or notarized your documents. You can help speed up the process by arranging your documents so that all of the same signatures are grouped together.

Staple or paperclip the pages of multi-page documents together to give us a visual cue that it is a multi-page document that must be kept together. Once we attach the certificate it can't be removed. If you would like to keep copies of your documents you should make them before you send your documents for authentication. It will be much harder to copy them after we return them with the certificates permanently attached.

Each of your documents requires a certificate to attest to the authenticity of each notary that has notarized the document.  The certificates are combined with your original document and they will be permanently fastened together with an eyelet machine, so you should send your complete document and not just the pages that have been notarized. 

When your documents have been completed and screened send the original (copies of signatures are not acceptable) documents to:

Authentications order mailing address: Office of the Lt. Governor, Authentications Department, 240 Main Street, Room 301, Juneau, Alaska 99801

Fees

Authentications are $5.00 per certificate.  We accept personal checks, money orders, cashier's checks and Visa and Mastercard. If you will be paying with Visa or Mastercard, please include our completed Credit Card order form with your materials. Please do not send cash with your order. Credits that may be applied to your next order will be issued in the event of overpayment. Please make your checks payable to "State of Alaska."

The total number of certificates required for your documents will depend on the number of different notaries and the number of documents that you are sending for authentication. A single page document with one notarization will require one certificate ($5 fee).  A multiple page document with one notarization will require one certificate ($5 fee).  A multiple page document with two notarizations by the same notary will still require one certificate ($5 fee).  A multiple page document with two notarizations by two different notaries will require two certificates ($10 fee).  If you were to send all of these documents for authentication the total fee would be $25.00

Shipping

Your order will be processed and returned at no extra cost to you by regular US mail to any domestic location that you indicate unless you provide a pre paid, pre addressed mailer or envelope with your order. Requests for expedited deliveries that do not include pre paid, pre addressed mailers will be not be returned by expedited means and will instead be returned via regular US Mail.

Use whatever carrier you prefer to mail your order to Juneau, but we strongly suggest that you purchase and include a U.S. Postal Service Express mailer as part of your order.  We have the ability to return your orders via FedEx and UPS if you provide those mailers, but you may experience significant delays when using carriers other than the USPS.  You have been warned.

Since we will be adding one piece of paper per signature and will be attaching your certificates with metal eyelets, your completed documents will be heavier than the package that you send. If you are sending a large volume of documents for authentication you may need to add more postage to compensate for this additional weight.

EXPRESS MAIL NOTES:

USPS Express Mail:   We strongly recommend this service for your return shipments if you need express return shipping. Express Mail through the U.S. Post Office can be returned each weekday as late as 4:00 pm.and is the only express service out of Juneau that actually has the potential for overnight delivery between the larger cities in Alaska.  No kidding... seriously..  if you need express return shipping this is the service to use.   It is cheaper and faster than the others.   If you use any other service out of Juneau you will be slowing down the return of your order by days.

FedEx: FedEx picks up packages from our drop box each weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. which means that right out of the gate there is already a one day delay built into the FedEx process. It gets worse if your package arrives on a Friday because it will not even be picked up by FedEx until the following Monday. In addition to that one day delay, there is no overnight FedEx service into or out of Alaska.  Anyone that tells you otherwise is misleading you.

FedEx suggests that you generate the prepaid airbill that you include with your order via their web site (http://www.fedex.com)   Using their web site forces you to fill out the airbill completely and correctly and may prevent delays in getting your completed order back to you.

UPS:  We have no scheduled pickup schedule with UPS and they provide no drop boxes.  When returning an order via UPS our mail room must call them to arrange for a pickup.  For reasons only known to the local UPS folks, it can take several days for them to show up to pick up your order.  Use UPS at your own risk.

DHL:  Do not use DHL for your return shipment.  DHL no longer has a physical presence in Juneau.  You may be able to have someting delivered by DHL to Juneau, but that is only because they subcontract the shipment out to the US Postal Service.    Since they have no physical presence in Juneau it is not possible for us to return something to you via DHL, even if you have successfully mailed something to us using DHL.

Final Order Checklist

Before you ship your documents for authentication, please check your order against this list to make sure it is complete.

1. Do your documents meet every single one of the document standards for authentication?
2. If you are not sure that your documents meet the document standards, have you had the Lt. Governor's office screen your documents for you to make sure they can be authenticated?
3. Have your sorted your documents by notary and stapled or paper clipped the pages of multi-page documents together?
4. Have you included a note containing your contact information and the name of the country that will be receiving your documents?
5. If express return mail is desired, have you have included a pre-paid, pre-addressed air bill, mailer or envelope for that purpose?
6. If we will be forwarding your documents to a third party or consulate, have you included everything that they will need?
7. Have you carefully detailed any special handling requests or unusual circumstances regarding your order?