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Official Verification of Name


For various purposes (e.g., for American citizens to marry in some countries or to acquire dual citizenship), individuals may be required to obtain official, authenticated proof of name, birth, marriage, etc. The authentication certifies the signature and capacity of the official who executed the document. The New York Secretary of State authenticates public documents for use in foreign countries. One such proof is known as an "apostille," which is issued pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing Requirement of Legislation for Foreign Public Documents. A "certificate of authentication" is issued to authenticate public documents for use in countries that are not signatories to the 1961 Hague Convention. The documents in question must be public documents issued in New York State and signed by a notary public, a County Clerk, or a State official. The necessity for an apostille or certificate of authentication is determined by the foreign country or destination.

Before a person may request an apostille or certificate of authentication from the Department of State, he or she must obtain a copy of the document and have the document authenticated by a County Clerk or other appropriate official or, in certain instances, the document must be notarized and the signature of the notary must be authenticated by the County Clerk.

An apostille or certificate of authentication issued by the New York Secretary of State is a one-page document with a blue, laser-printed facsimile of the New York Department of State Seal. Both the apostille and certificate of authentication include the facsimile signature of the New York Secretary of State or his/her deputy.

The procedures for obtaining an apostille or certificate of authentication, a three-step process, are as follows:

 

Step One: Obtaining the Record

Proof of Birth: If a person requires official proof of his or her birth in New York City with apostille or certificate of authentication, the applicant must first obtain a copy of the birth certificate with a letter of exemplification from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Vital Records Division, 125 Worth Street, New York, New York. The letter of exemplification will be issued by that Department upon request. Applications may be made in person at the Department’s Office, by mail, or on-line. There are restrictions as to who may submit the applications (the person named in the certificate or parents). Proof of identity is required. Processing of applications by mail takes about 30 days at present. Applications on-line must be paid for by credit or debit card or electronic check. On-line applications are processed within 24 hours. An additional ten business days will be required for long form/vault certificates and letters of exemplification. The charge is $15.00 plus $8.30 for mailing and service. For additional information, see www.nyc.gov/vitalrecords.

Proof of Death: If the apostille/certificate concerns proof of death, copies of death certificates along with the letter of exemplification for persons who died in the five boroughs of New York City can be obtained from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Processing of such applications requires 10 business days.

Amendments/Corrections: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene amends and corrects birth and death certificates issued in New York City.

Birth/Death Records Outside of New York City: For information, consult the New York State Department of Health. See www.nyhealth.gov.

Educational Record: Where the record in question is an educational record, such as a transcript reflecting attendance at a college or university in New York, the record must be certified by an official at the educational institution attended attesting that the record is an official record of that institution or a true copy of the original. The official’s signature must be notarized by a notary public. The second step in the process is authentication by the County Clerk of the county in which the notary is qualified.

Other Documents: Other documents (e.g., power of attorney) must be notarized. The signature of the notary must then be authenticated by the County Clerk of the county where the notary is qualified.

 

Step Two: Authentication by the County Clerk

Authentication of the Record: Documents to be submitted for apostille or certificate of authentication must be authenticated by the County Clerk or a state official. This is the second step in the process. A birth or death certificate must bear a letter of exemplification. A request for authentication must be presented to the County Clerk’s Notary Desk at 60 Centre Street, Room 141B. The request may also be submitted to the County Clerk by mail (County Clerk of New York County, New York County Courthouse, 60 Centre Street, Room 161, New York, New York 10007); if the documents are in proper order, the County Clerk will authenticate them and return them to the applicant by mail. The submission by mail must be accompanied by a certified personal check or U.S. postal order, payable to the County Clerk of New York County, in the amount of $3.00. No other form of payment will be accepted through the mails. Payment of the $3.00 fee in person may be made in cash or by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or American Express). Mail applications must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for return of the documents by the County Clerk. The County Clerk does not have facilities to return documents by delivery service or postal express mail so the applicant should plan accordingly and submit the proper postage to ensure trouble-free return.

Due to the volume of matters received, the County Clerk of New York County generally requires three weeks to process applications for authentication that are submitted by mail. Documents presented in proper form in person are processed immediately.

If the applicant seeks authentication by the County Clerk of a changed birth certificate, the applicant must submit the document and letter of exemplification to the County Clerk of New York County as described above. If, however, the court order authorizing a change of the name of the applicant was issued by a court other than Supreme Court, Civil Branch, New York County, the papers must be submitted to the County Clerk of the county in which the order was issued.

If the document in question is an educational record, the applicant must have the signature of the notary public thereon (notarizing the signature of an educational official) authenticated by the County Clerk. The authenticating County Clerk must be the County Clerk of the county in which the notary public is qualified. Thus, if the notary is qualified in a county other than New York County, the documents should be presented to the County Clerk of that county, not the New York County Clerk. The documents should be submitted as explained above.

 

Step Three: Issuance of Apostille or
Certificate of Authentication

The third step in the process is the issuance of the apostille or certificate of authentication by the New York State Department of State. An application form must be completed. The documents in question, properly authenticated, must be attached and a fee paid. The fee is $10.00 per apostille or certificate. For access to the application form, information on acceptable payment methods, and other information, see www.dos.state.ny.us .

The documents may be submitted to the Department of State in person at the following address:

New York State Department of State
Division of Licensing Services
123 William Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10038
(Hours: 9 AM - 3:30 PM)
(Phone: 212-417-5747)

Documents may be submitted by mail at:

New York State Department of State
Division of Corporations, State Records and UCC
99 Washington Avenue, 6th Floor
Albany, New York 12231

Instructions regarding acceptable methods of return of documents submitted by mail are found on the application form.

Documents submitted in person are usually processed while the applicant waits. Documents submitted by mail are usually processed within four business days of receipt of the documents by the relevant office.

 

November 2012