Foreign Authentications (Apostilles and Certificates of Authority) General Information Foreign countries sometimes require that signatures of State of Alaska officials/employees on your documents be formally validated before they will accept them. In Alaska this service is provided by our Lieutenant Governor. The certificates we produce are permanently attached using a metal eyelet to the document bearing the signature being authenticated and the Lieutenant Governor will only authenticate wet/original signatures. The certificates may be obtained by mailing your documents to our Juneau office. The documents must either be notarized by a commissioned Alaska notary (commissioned notaries) or must be the original provided to you an Alaskan official. There are two different certificates for foreign use, the Apostille and the Certificate of Authority. Apostilles are for member countries of the Hague Conference on Legalization, although some non-member countries also accept the Apostille. There are separate tables for member countries and non-member countries, but any country listed in either table accepts the Apostille. Countries not listed in either of the two tables require a “Certificate of Authority” instead of the Apostille. People commonly request the wrong type of certificate, so to enhance your odds of obtaining the correct certificate for the country you are dealing with we require that you provide the name of the destination country as part of this process. Alaska complies with a request from the U.S. State Department to refuse issuance of the certificates for anything other than legitimate foreign use per international treaty. Orders submitted that are not for legitimate foreign use will be rejected. If you require a formal 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 standards or office policy regarding authentications. Please take the time to read the rest of these instructions carefully, especially if you are in a hurry and cannot afford any delays. 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: Office of the Lt. Governor Authentications Department 240 Main Street, Room 301 Juneau, AK 99801 It’s important to include the word “Authentications” in the address if you hope to have your order processed as quickly as possible. We sort through the mail as soon as it arrives looking for authentication orders so they are processed as soon as possible. If the address on your envelope doesn’t include this visual cue, it may be several hours before someone opens the rest of the mail and notices that it contains an authentication order. For information or help, please contact the Scott Meriwether: Email email@example.com or phone (907) 465-4081 (or toll free from within Alaska at (877) 764-1234 and ask for Scott) 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 bearing signatures that we have on file for this purpose. Older certified copies may bear signatures that can’t be authenticated. If your copies were not issued fairly recently you should take advantage of the screening process. If the signature on the copy cannot be authenticated you will need to obtain a freshly certified copy. 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: 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.) A notarial certificate. A sample notarial certificate can be viewed below. The notary’s signature. The expiration date of the notary’s commission. 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 DistrictSubscribed 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 issued directly by Alaska’s Vital Records office. The Alaska court system was also involved in issuing certified copies of vital records prior to 2005 and in general it will not be possible for us to authenticate signatures on those certified copies. If you have a court-issued copy of a vital record that requires authentication you will probably need to order a fresh certified copy from the Vital Records office. We’d be happy to screen your document to verify whether we can work with it or not. 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://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/VitalStats/Pages/default.aspx, 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 outline elsewhere in these instructions. 5. Official certified copies of Alaska Court documents and/or court official’s notarizations. 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 if you need contact information for ordering records. It’s very difficult to identify the signers on court documents, so we would be very grateful if you could assist us with this by asking the clerk to print their name below their signature or to include a sticky note, etc. with the name of the court official whose signature is being authenticated. 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 Unlike in some other U.S. states, Alaska’s notaries do not have the authority to directly certify documents or photocopies of documents. The workaround to this limitation here in Alaska is a process we call “Copy Certification By Document Custodian” whereby literally anyone except a commissioned notary public can “certify” a copy/document using this process. The notary is not making any statement referencing the underlying document but is merely notarizing the signature of the person who is making the copy certification statement. The person that is certifying the document (i.e. the “document custodian” or whoever it is that needs the self-certified copy) signs a copy certification statement, has their signature on that statement notarized and we can then issue authentications (if required) based on the signature of the notary. 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. Having said that, having to resort to this CCBDC process is an extremely common thing for someone to have to do and foreign countries rarely seem to reject these documents. It may be easier to take your chances and submit this type of material to see if it will be accepted rather than to try to reach out to the foreign agents to inquire about its acceptability. 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. Preparation of photocopies/documents for the CCBDC process. It is not the notary’s responsibility to prepare your documents for this process so after you have determined that a Copy Certification By Document Custodian will be acceptable to the recipient country (or decide to take your chances), create your photocopy, and add the Copy Certification By Document Custodian notarial certificate to your document before obtaining 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. The wording below is just a template and the wording should be modified to fit your particular situation. 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: _____________ 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. 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 screen your documents before you mail your order. Double check that the notaries are actively commissioned by looking them up yourself, or if the signature is that of another state official or employee and not a commissioned notary (or if you just want to be extra careful) you may email images of the notarizations/signatures for us to screen for you prior to sending your order. This allows us to verify that the signatures on your documents that you need authenticated meet the requirements. In some cases the screening process also allows us to accomplish some of the necessary preparation work which can speed up the processing of your order. To take advantage of this service, scan/photograph only the notarized pages (or those that have been signed and sealed by a State official) of your documents and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, contact numbers and the name of the country that will be receiving your authenticated documents. We will review the notarizations/signatures and contact you to with the results. 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: Office of the Lt. Governor Authentications Department 240 Main Street, Room 301 Juneau, AK 99801 It’s important to include the word “Authentications” in the address if you hope to have your order processed as quickly as possible. We sort through the mail as soon as it arrives looking for authentication orders so they are processed as soon as possible. If the address on your envelope doesn’t include this visual cue, it may be several hours before someone opens the rest of the mail and notices that it contains an authentication order. 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 The certificate fees include the return of your order by first class USPS mail anywhere within the U.S. We make every effort to turn your order around the same day it is received. First class mail generally takes two or three days in Alaska and perhaps a few days longer for the rest of the country. If first class mail is not fast enough for you – or you will be having us return your completed order directly to a foreign destination – you will need to provide the prepared and prepaid mailer as part of your order. Orders that do not include the mailer – ready to go – will still be returned by first class USPS mail. If you need to shave a few days off the shipping time you will want to purchase a stamped (no metered postage!) Priority Mail Express mailer from the USPS to include with your order for the return shipping. Regular priority mail (which costs $6.45) is a trap! We observe that regular Priority mail seems to take even longer than first class mail – sometimes more than twice as long. If you don’t want to pay the $22.95 for Priority Mail Express you are probably better off letting us send the order back to you for free by first class mail than using regular Priority mail. If you still have issues related to shipping after reading through this info, please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss. FOR THOSE ABOUT TO IGNORE OUR ADVICE TO USE EXPRESS MAIL THROUGH THE POST OFFICE: We get it. You’ve been using FedEx, UPS, DHL or some other acronym forever and have never had any issues with the service. Plus, they’re the ones that your business has a contract with and it’s a hassle to get down to the post office. Before you go with your favorite service, please read through the info below so we can explain the problems you are going to encounter with your favorite service here in Juneau. MORE SHIPPING NOTES/ADVICE: For those in such a rush that they are considering jumping on a jet and flying to Juneau to obtain these certificates, consider using Alaska Airlines Goldstreak instead. You will also need to hire a courier service to shuttle your documents back and forth to the airport but Goldstreak is probably the quickest way to move something into and out of Juneau from elsewhere in the state. USPS Priority Mail Express is our strongly recommended shipping method for customers that are rushed. The post office will accept Express Mail until late into each weekday afternoon and this the only method out of Juneau that has the potential for overnight delivery. No other service (except Alaska Airlines Goldstreak) is faster. There is one “Gotcha!” with Express mail: You must use postage stamps on the return mailer instead of letting the postal clerk sell you metered postage (the kind they print off there at the counter.) Metered postage is fine on the package you are sending to us, but the mailer you include for us to return your order to you must have postage stamps on it. After USPS Priority Mail Express, FedEx is a good second choice for return delivery. FedEx has a drop box near our location that is picked up once a day. Unfortunately that pickup is first thing each weekday morning which means that your FedEx return will not be picked up until the day after we process your order. And if your order is processed on a Friday it will sit in that drop box all weekend. If you choose to use FedEx just know that it represents an automatic one day delay (and sometimes a three day delay) before it gets picked up (and that is on top of the two plus days it will take for them to deliver it to you because there is no overnight FedEx service in Alaska regardless of what FedEx tells you – or sells 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 receiving your completed order. USPS Priority Mail ($6.45 USD): Regular USPS Priority mail is not recommended. It seems to take twice as long as first class mail (which we will provide to you for no extra fee.) UPS service here is spotty and is best avoided entirely if you are really in a rush. There is no UPS drop box available to us and it regularly takes UPS several days to respond to our calls to come pick up packages. Do not use DHL for your return shipment. DHL has no physical presence in Juneau. DHL will cheerfully deliver to Juneau (they subcontract the shipment out to the USPS) and may even let you prepare a return airbill from Juneau back to yourself, but since they have no physical presence in Juneau it is not possible for us to return something to you via DHL (even if they take your money and tell you that it’s possible!) Pre-paid First Class mailer: There is no need for anyone to provide a pre-paid first class mailer, but if you do please consider that we will be adding one piece of paper per signature and will be attaching your certificates with metal eyelets. Your completed documents will be slightly 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. Final Order Checklist Before you ship your documents for authentication, please check your order against this list to make sure it is complete. Do your documents meet every single one of the document standards for authentication? 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? Have your sorted your documents by notary and stapled or paper clipped the pages of multi-page documents together? Have you included a note containing your contact information and the name of the country that will be receiving your documents? If express return mail is desired, have you have included a pre-paid, pre-addressed air bill, mailer or envelope for that purpose? (If not, your order will be returned by first class mail) If we will be forwarding your documents to a third party or consulate, have you included everything that they will need? Have you carefully detailed any special handling requests or unusual circumstances regarding your order?