Are you planning to get married, study, or pursue other legal affairs abroad? In that case, you’ll need one thing: an apostilled birth certificate. And if you’re born in California, we have the steps on how to get one covered for you.
Below, we discussed the process of authentication of a birth certificate and when you’ll usually need one. Read on to know how the process goes:
When do you need to apostille birth certificate in California?
In general, apostilling any legal document is necessary for various reasons, but mainly for overseas purposes. For Californian birth certificates, the following usually calls for an apostille:
- International adoption.If you’re considering adopting a child from California into another country, you will likely need to apostille your and the child’s birth certificates as part of the adoption process. The foreign government and adoption agencies require an apostilled birth certificate to verify your identity and eligibility to adopt.
- Marriage abroad.Are you planning to say ‘I Do’ overseas? Many countries require an apostilled birth certificate as part of the marriage registration process. This ensures that you meet the legal requirements for marriage and it also prevents fraudulent marriages.
- Dual citizenship.If you are applying for dual citizenship in another country, you’ll have to submit an apostilled birth certificate to prove your eligibility. The foreign country needs to verify your identity and establish your familial ties.
- Higher education.If you plan to study abroad, you may be required to provide an apostilled birth certificate as part of the application process. This is particularly required for programs that involve government scholarships or institutions that require official documentation.
- Job applications.In certain industries or positions that involve working overseas, employers may request your apostilled birth certificate to validate your identity and qualifications. This is especially common in fields such as education, healthcare, and government roles.
How to apostille birth certificate California
If you need to secure an apostille for your Californian birth certificate, you’ll need to go through the following steps:
Step 1. Obtain a copy of your birth certificate
First, you need to get a certified copy of your birth certificate. Take note, it should be a “certified copy”, which means photo-copied versions will not be accepted.
So where can you get a certified copy of your birth certificate? You can request it from the California Department of Public Health or the county recorder’s office where your birth was registered. Make sure to mention that you’re requesting a certified copy for apostille purposes.
Step 2. Notarize and translate your document
Once you have a certified copy of your birth certificate, you need to have it notarized first. And if it’s in a different language, you’ll need professional document translation services to translate it into English.
Take note that the translation must be done by a certified translator and it should accompany a notarization as a true translation.
Overall, these two steps are necessary for all documents you want to apostille.
Step 3. Fill out the application form
Next, you have to submit a filled-out copy of the DS-4194 form, which you can request from the Secretary of State’s office or download on their website.
In section 4 of the form, make sure you indicate the country of use or where the apostilled birth certificate will be brought. If it’s a non-Hague country, you’ll need an authentication certificate instead of an apostille (more on this below).
Once you filled out the form, you can send it through mail or in person at the California Secretary of State office.
Step 4. Pay the service fee
After that, you need to pay the apostille fee, which is around $20 per document if you’re requesting directly from the office of the Secretary of State. There could also be handling fees and other expenses that you may need to pay, depending on the circumstances of your document.
Aside from that, you’ll have to pay for shipping if you prefer to have your apostilled birth certificate delivered to your address.
Card payments are accepted for all apostille requested. You can also pay through money or check, but make sure that it’s dated within the last six months.
Step 5. Wait for your apostille to arrive
On average, the processing of apostille requests in California will take up to 2 weeks or more. This doesn’t include the time needed for mailing the documents from and to your address.
But if you need same-day or next-day apostille, you can tap the help of apostille services in Los Angeles. They may charge extra fees, but the convenience is totally worth the price.
How to authenticate your birth certificate in CA
But what if the document’s destination country isn’t part of the Hague Convention Treaty? In this case, you’ll need an authentication certificate in place of an apostille. Just the same, you can get this from the California Secretary of State’s office.
Overall, the steps in authenticating a birth certificate are the same as requesting an apostille. You still need a certified copy, which should be notarized and professionally translated into English. Aside from that, you’ll use the same Form DS-4194 to request authentication.
As for the processing time, it may take weeks from the time the Secretary of State’s office receives your request.
1. Check your place of birth
Take note that the California Secretary of State can only apostille birth certificates for those who are born in California. So if you or the person who needs their birth certificate apostilled was born in a different state, you need to go to that state’s respective Secretary of State.
2. Consider apostilling multiple copies
We also recommend getting multiple copies of your birth certificate apostilled for future use. You’ll never know when you might be asked to submit such a document. This way, you don’t have to go through the process all over again, especially if you need the apostille urgently.
3. Make the request as early as possible
Normal processing time for Californian apostilles may take up to 11 weeks, depending on specific circumstances. So if you know that you’ll need an apostilled birth certificate in the future, we recommend submitting an application months ahead. This way, you won’t be stressed over missing the submission deadline.
4. Complete the application form properly
The last thing you want is for your apostille request to get delayed or denied due to incomplete information on your application form.
With this, make sure you double-check your full name, birth date, and other information being asked on the form. Also, you shouldn’t forget to indicate what country you’re planning to use the apostille for. By doing this, you can save yourself from the hassle of sending the application back and forth for corrections.
5. Plan for potential delays
The California Secretary of State receives hundreds of apostille requests at any given time. In that case, delays may happen, which is something you should always factor in when sending an application.
But if you want a guaranteed way to apostille your birth certificate, you should have a professional service. These companies have a working relationship with the Secretary of State, which allows them to secure an apostille fast, many of which can be done on the same day or up to 7 business days.
6. Confirm validity requirements
Apostilles don’t expire and apostilled documents remain valid at any given time. However, some countries or offices may require a new apostille or one that’s been issued within a specific timeframe.
So to avoid any hassle, make sure that you ask this part. This way, you’ll know if your old copy can be used or if you need to request a new one from the Secretary of State.
7. Consider apostilling supporting documents
Depending on your intended purpose, you may also need to submit supporting documents like divorce decrees, marriage certificates, name change documents, and so on. Consider having them apostilled at the same time as your birth certificate, so you only have to make one request for all.
Apostilling a birth certificate in California is pretty straightforward. As long as you have submitted all the necessary requirements and paid the fee, you’re all set to receive the document in a few weeks’ time.
Whether you need it for overseas employment, marriage, education, and so on, knowing how to make an apostille request can save you a lot of time. Above all, you should submit your request as early as possible to give way for the Secretary of State’s processing time.