"The purpose of authentications is to verify for foreign governments that a Virginia official is in good standing. These officials include notary publics, clerks and deputy clerks of Virginia courts, registrars and deputy registrars of the Department of Health and the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission. Please note: Various states and embassies refer to the Authentication process differently; it can also be described as Legalization or Certification.
Authentication of a notarized document is required for conducting international business by individuals and corporations in Virginia. All documents for Authentication must be less than one year old. This means that the issue date on Vital Records must be less than one year from the day that we process it. On all documents signed by a notary, Deputy Clerk, or any other Virginia official, that signing must have taken place less than one year from the day that we process it.
The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth does not regulate what documents are required by the foreign country. To verify the required documents, contact the embassy of the country to which the documents will go.
International Authentication – Individual Use
For international acceptance, the official state registry of birth, death, marriage and divorce must be obtained from the Department of Vital Records. For information on obtaining a copy, call Vital Records at (804) 662-6200. These Vital Record documents should only be signed by a State Registrar or Deputy State Registrar, and not notarized.
Marriage certificates can also be obtained from the Circuit Court in the city where the marriage was recorded. These black and white certificates must be accompanied by a Triple Seal Page, also called an Authentication of Record. This is a separate sheet of paper from the Court with the signatures and seals of the Court Clerk and Judge. This additional page must be attached to your document prior to our office Authenticating it.
All other documents requiring authentication for foreign use should be notarized by a Virginia notary. These documents include Power of Attorney, school transcripts and diplomas, and copies of passports and immigration paperwork. Please follow the instructions below.
1. Enclose a cover letter with your name, address and phone number. Also include the country the you need the document authenticated for.
2. You may use our Authentications Request form as your cover letter (pdf, 17 k).
3. The fee for this service is $10.00 per document, payable to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
4. Please be sure to enclose a prepaid return mailer. This can be regular mail, Fed X, UPS, DHL, etc. We recommend using Fed Ex or UPS for both speed and reliability.
If you have vital records or other documents notarized from another state, you must send those documents to the Secretary of State for that state.
If you have marriage or birth certificates from another country, you must send those to the U.S. State Department, which can be contacted at 1-800-333-4636.
All documents besides Vital Records and Court Marriage Certificates must be notarized by a Virginia notary. Notaries must include ALL information required in the handbook. When there is no signature for a notary to notarize, such as passports, INS documents and academic records, notaries may notarize the documents as true and exact copies of originals. Specific information is found in the Acknowledgment Section of the Notary Handbook (pdf, 163 k).
International Authentication – Corporate Use
In order to conduct business in other countries, certain documents are required by foreign governments.
Documents may include Certificates of Good Standing, Articles of Incorporation and Corporate Amendments and Resolutions. They may be obtained through the State Corporation Commission. These documents will bear the signature of the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission and do not need notarization. To obtain these records, contact the Clerks Office in the State Corporation Commission at (804) 371-9733. All other documents pertaining to international business must be notarized following the handbook procedures.
For further information/mailing address:
Director of Authentications
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
1111 East Broad Street, 4th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
or use our Inquiry Form