WHAT IS AN APOSTILLE OR AN AUTHENTICATION?
An Apostille or an Authentication certifies the authenticity of the signature, seal and position of the official who has executed, issued or certified a copy of a public document. An Apostille or an Authentication enables a public document issued in one country to be recognized as valid in another country. While they accomplish the same objective, there are differences between Apostilles and Authentications.
An Apostille is a certification form set out in The Hague Convention abolishing the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents (1961).
An Apostille may be obtained to transmit public documents executed in one signatory country to another signatory country in which the documents need to be produced. The Hague Convention defines a “public document” as:
- Those originating in a court, clerk of a court, public prosecutor or process server;
- Administrative documents;
- Notarial acts; and
- Official certificates placed on documents.
An Authentication may be obtained to transmit public documents to countries which have not subscribed to The Hague Convention.
WHO ISSUES AN APOSTILLE OR AN AUTHENTICATION?
The Tennessee Department of State, Business Services Division, issues an Apostille or an Authentication under the authority of the Tennessee Secretary of State with respect to documents executed, issued or certified by Tennessee County Clerks, the Tennessee State Registrar, and the Tennessee Secretary of State.
If a document needs an Authentication, the United States Department of State must also certify the Tennessee Secretary of State’s signature on the Authentication. This step is not necessary for an Apostille.
HOW DO I GET AN APOSTILLE OR AUTHENTICATION FROM THE TENNESSEE SECRETARY OF STATE?
Prior to submitting a document to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office for an Apostille or an Authentication certifying a notarized document, you must complete the following steps:
- Take the public document to a Notary Public At Large in Tennessee and have it notarized.
- Once the document has been notarized, take it to the County Clerk of the County where the Notary Public At Large was commissioned and have the Notary Public At Large’s signature certified by the County Clerk.
- Complete the Apostille or Authentication Request Form (ss-4504) and submit it either by mail or in person to the Tennessee Secretary of State Business Services Division ATS Section along with the public document you wish to have Apostilled or Authenticated, as well as a check, cashier’s check or money order made payable to the Tennessee Secretary of State in the amount of $2.00 for each public document.
If you are unsure which type of document certification you need, please contact the Consulate of the receiving country or contact the United States Department of State Authentication Office.
- Please mail or hand deliver the request form, the public document, and payment of the processing fee to the address listed below:
Tennessee Secretary of State
Business Services Division
ATTN: ATS Section
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave – 6th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Customers may obtain Apostille or Authentication services in person during regular business hours which are Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Central Time, with the exception of state holidays. You must arrive in our office by 4:15 p.m. in order to receive same day service.
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office will provide to the customer the executed Apostille or Authentication attached to the public document.
In the case of an executed Authentication, the customer must then obtain certification of the Tennessee Secretary of State’s signature by contacting the United States Department of State by mail at:
Office of Authentications
U.S. Department of State
1150 Passport Services PL
Dulles, VA 20189-1150
Telephone (202) 485-8000
Toll Free (800) 688-9889