Certifications, Apostilles, and the Authentication of Documents

How Do I Obtain an Apostille or Certification?

1. Your documents must be signed by and contain the seal of the Pennsylvania official who is the custodian of the record or a Pennsylvania notary public.  NOTE: Diplomas, transcripts and criminal record checks must be notarized prior to requesting an apostille or certification.  Birth certificates do not need to be and should not be notarized.

2. Mail your documents to the Department of State along with a cover letter that includes your name and full mailing address or you may use our Request for Legalization of Documents form.

3. Identify in the cover letter the country where the documents will be used.

4. Enclose a personal check, money order or cashier's check made payable to "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" in the amount of $15 per document.  Checks and money orders must be issued by a U.S. institution or, if issued by a foreign bank, must be in U.S. dollars and contain a routing number.  Cash cannot be accepted by mail.

5. Photocopies of notarized or certified documents may not be certified by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

6. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of your documents.  If you wish the order to be returned by a courier service, you must enclose a prepaid air bill with your order.  NOTE: If requesting your documents to be returned via UPS (United Parcel Service), please list yourself as the sender and recipient on the air bill that you will be providing.  Otherwise, the air bill will be changed accordingly.

7. Mail your request to:

    Pennsylvania Department of State

    Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation

    Room 210 North Office Building

    Harrisburg, PA 17120-0029

8. Processing time for mail-in requests is typically less than five (5) business days.  Processing time does not include mailing time.

9. Walk-in requests are accepted from 8:30AM to 4:00PM, Monday through Friday (except State holidays).  Walk-in requests are processed while the requestor waits.  If using a GPS device for driving directions, please use 401 North Street for the street address.

10. Questions concerning apostilles or certifications may be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation by calling (717) 787-5280, by email: RA-CERTIFICATIONS@pa.gov or by writing to the address listed above.

You may contact the U.S. Department of State concerning the legalization of documents at www.travel.state.gov.

11. Effective October 1, 2009, the Department no longer accepts FedEx or DHL for return shipment of documents.

Modified Date: 04/02/2010 01:22 PM