The purpose of an authentication by our office is to verify to foreign governments that certain Virginia officials are in good standing. Depending on the destination country, the authentication is issued either as a Great Seal or an Apostille. The authentication only verifies that the Virginia Notary, Virginia Clerk of Court or Virginia Deputy State Registrar is listed in our system, and they have notarized or issued your document correctly.
The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth does not regulate what documents are required by the foreign government.
Authentication at the state level cannot be provided for documents to be used within the United States or its territories (including Puerto Rico).
Documents issued at the federal level (to include the FBI) must be authenticated by the US State Department, not by the Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Our office does not require the document be translated before submitting for authentication.
Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
1111 East Broad St, 1st Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Frequently Asked Questions
No, authentication is not necessary or valid when interacting across the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, etc.). You must contact the courthouse where the notary took their oath and request a Notary Certification of Good Standing.
You may contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office by email to inquire where a notary took their oath. firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Apostille is a form of Authentication/Certification to be used in countries who are signed as a part of the Hague Convention.
A Special Commission met from October 28 to November 4, 2003 to discuss many issues regarding practical operation of the Hague in connection to Apostille, evidence and service conventions. The formal requirements of the Apostille were discussed and the Special Commission concluded that there are a variety of means of affixing an Apostille to a public document. These means may include rubber stamp, glue, (multi-colored) ribbons, wax seals, impressed seals, self-adhesive stickers, grommets, staples, etc. It is noted by the Special Commission that all these means are acceptable under the Convention, and that, therefore, these variations cannot be a basis for the rejection of Apostilles. Virginia has chosen the staple method of affixing the Apostille to the document.
Our office does not provide notary services. Many local banks, FedEx stores, UPS stores, and USPS have notary services. You may find notary services in other locations throughout Virginia at your discretion as well.
Our office does not offer translation services. Documents in different languages are accepted but the notarization must be in English.
Our office is not affiliated with any apostille companies or services. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth provides all Authentications from the State of Virginia. You may use any company at your own discretion but please be aware; they are not representatives of nor connected in any way to the Authentication Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.