Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of an authentication by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth is to verify that documents have been issued or notarized by certain Virginia officials that are listed in good standing with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Depending on the destination country, the authentication is issued either as a Great Seal or an Apostille. The authentication 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.

Anyone can request an authentication. The requestor does not need to be related to any persons named in the document.

Authentication is not necessary or valid when interacting across the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the 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 to inquire where a notary took their oath.

Notary FAQs

Our office does not provide notary services. Local banks, UPS, and USPS have notary services. You may find notary services in other locations throughout Virginia at your discretion as well.

Translation FAQs

Our office does not offer translation services. Documents in different languages are accepted but the notarization must be in English.

Additional FAQs

There is a fee of $10 for the first document and $5 for each additional document signed by the same Virginia official, on the same day, going to the same country. Documents signed by different Virginia official or signed on different days or going to different countries will be $10 per document. We accept checks and money orders. Please make out checks to the “Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia”.

Documents improperly notarized, not issued within the past 12 months, or requests missing any required items will be returned for correction.

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.

Please note this is not limited to the following:

  • Federal documents (including The Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks) these should be authenticated by the Federal Office of Authentications, travel.state.gov.
  • Documents issued by a Federal Court
  • Vital records not issued by the state of Virginia (births, deaths, marriages, etc. in other states or abroad
    These should be authenticated by the Issuing state/country
  • Military notaries These should be authenticated by the Federal Office of Authentications, travel.state.gov
  • Federal officials
  • Citizenship certificates
  • Consulate officials
  • Our office accepts the following mailing services: UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS.  
  • Requestor’s information must be the sender and recipient on return envelope.
  • The processing time is seven (7) business days from the time your document is received. It is not possible to expedite processing services
  • If you do not provide postage, we will only provide up to $2.00 in postage.

Our office now offers in person appointments. Constituents cannot walk in and be seen without an appointment. Please visit our appointments page to schedule here.