Notary Vs Apostille: What’s The Difference?

When forming a company, you'll want to learn the difference between notary vs apostille. Read on and we'll share a few important points about each one.

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Do you know the difference between a notary and an apostille? As a business owner, we’re guessing you’re already familiar with both words. In case you still haven’t encountered it or if you’re confused about the difference, we’re here to help. Allow us to give you the lowdown about notary vs apostille.

We’re confident that you’ll have a clearer understanding of these two legal terms by the end of this article!

Notary vs apostille: The dictionary definitions

First and foremost, let’s define the words in their simplest forms.

The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a ‘notary’ is:

“An official who has the legal authority to say that documents are correctly signed or true or to make an oath (= promise) official.”

notary vs apostille
Image source: Unsplash

On the other hand, the website defines ‘apostille’ as:

“An official certificate from a government that makes a document from one country acceptable in another, or the system of using such certificates.”

So as we talk about notary vs apostille, we first need to clarify: A notary is a person (often called a notary public) who notarizes (or legalizes) documents while an apostille is a certificate of authentication.

Let’s discuss further about what sets them apart from each other.

The differences between notarized vs apostille documents

As you can probably tell by now, obtaining notarized and apostille documents require different actions. Also, notarized documents are for use within the United States while an apostille is for international use.

The purposes of notarized documents (and where to get them)

A registered notary public’s function is to verify a person’s identity and signature on important documents. In essence, the notary acts as a witness. They later add a stamp or a seal to the document to confirm that the individual’s identity and signature are legitimate.

For the most part, notarization is needed for affidavits, bills of exchange, deeds, oath administration, and other public documents.

Notary services are often available from, but not limited to, the following:

  • Accountant’s office
  • Attorney’s office
  • Banks
  • Postal office
  • Real estate firms

Other than that, traveling notaries could even pay you a visit if you don’t have the time to leave your house.

In certain instances, a notarized document has to be filed in another state or country. Depending on state or country requirements, the notary public may likewise have to provide a verification. Meanwhile, a document written in a foreign language should come with a separate, notarized English translation.

All about apostille documents

Now here’s what the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs tells us:

“Apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Secretary of State explains:

“An ‘apostille’ is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961.”

notary vs apostille
Image source: Unsplash

In case the document will be used in a non-Hague participating country, a Certificate of Authentication should instead be obtained.

Common documents that need apostille and authentication include:

  • adoption papers
  • birth certificates
  • corporate documents (articles of incorporation, company bylaws, good standing certificate, trademarks, etc.)
  • court orders
  • education documents (diplomas, transcripts, etc.)
  • marriage documents
  • powers of attorney
  • others

Individuals who need to request apostille and authentication will have to transact with the Office of the Secretary of State. The same can be said in Delaware where apostille and other authentications are issued by the Delaware Secretary of State, Division of Corporations.

In comparison with a notary, an apostille requires a little more effort to obtain. You will have to check if the issuing state or the federal office will provide you with it. Next, you will need to comply with the required red tape.

Need help? You can hire someone to do all the work.

The good news, of course, is that you can seek assistance if you’re too busy to do everything yourself. A third-party provider has the know-how to do this for you.

For example, entrepreneurs may want to hire experienced registered agents to help them out when they’re forming a company. They understand the process and are aware of exactly which resources to tap for best results. They’ll get in touch with the right people and get your apostille without any unnecessary delays.

You, in the meantime, can devote your time and energy to the things that matter most: Building a successful business!

*Featured image source: Unsplash

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