Apostilles authenticate public documents for acceptance in foreign countries that abide by the Hague Convention's Apostille Section. An apostille is a certificate, stamp, or seal usually issued by the Secretary of State in the state where the document originates. The stamp or certificate is affixed to a birth certificate, corporate bylaws, powers of attorney, deeds or other documents that are to be used in a country where apostilles are accepted. In Alabama, the Secretary of State issues apostilles.
Verify that the country you are preparing your document for accepts apostilles. The list of countries is available online at the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.
Check your document to be sure it is an original and is signed by a currently commissioned Alabama notary public, probate judge, circuit clerk or the current Alabama State Registrar. If the document was signed by an official who is no longer commissioned, contact the Alabama State Registrar to have it verified before applying for an apostille.
Obtain an Authentication Submittal Form from the Alabama Secretary of State website, and complete it according to the instructions.
Mail the form, the original document and the required fee, which is $5 per document at the time of publication, to the Alabama Secretary of State's office with a pre-paid self-addressed envelope. The correct mailing address appears on the Authentication Submittal Form. Allow five days for processing.