American River Notary & Apostille

Navigating the Difference Between Apostille and Notary Public Services for Your International Documents

Demystifying Apostille and Notary Public Services
Understanding the Apostille

An Apostille – Simplifying International Document Authentication

An apostille is an official certification that validates the source of a public document and authenticates the signatures, making it valid for use in foreign countries that are part of the Hague Convention.

If you’re dealing with essential records like birth, marriage, or death certificates in another country, an apostille ensures that these documents are recognized as genuine.

To obtain an apostille, you’ll need certified copies of your public documents. These copies are then submitted to your state’s Secretary of State office or an authorized apostille service. The documents are reviewed to establish their authenticity, after which a seal containing a unique identification number and expiration date is affixed. This process grants your documents the legal standing needed for purposes such as marriage, adoption, or estate settlements abroad.

Compared to a notary public, an apostille holds greater legal weight for international use. While a notary only validates the signatory’s identity and signature, an apostille certifies the origin and validity of the document itself. For personal or business documents intended for international use, an apostille is often mandatory. With the right apostille, your vital documents will be accepted wherever you present them.

Understanding Notarization
The Role of a Notary Public

A notarization involves a notary public officially verifying your signature on a document. Unlike an apostille, which pertains to international usage, notarization is meant for documents to be utilized domestically.

For a document to be notarized, you’ll sign it in the presence of the notary and provide a government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport, to confirm your identity. The notary will then compare the signature on the document with your ID to ensure authenticity. Once your identity is validated and your signature verified, the notary will stamp the document, sign, and date it. This notarized document can be used for various critical purposes where signature verification is essential, including real estate transactions, affidavits, and bank loans.

While notarizations might not be needed for most documents, they add an extra layer of security against fraud and enhance authenticity. Notarizations can be mandatory for specific documents, such as wills, living wills, trusts or power of attorney, to grant them legal creditability and enforceability.

Critical Differences Between Apostille and Notary Public

An apostille certifies the authenticity of a public official’s signature on documents for use in foreign countries within the Hague Convention. A notary public is considered a public official, and an apostille can be issued authenticating their signature. A Notary Public is authorized to administer oaths, validate acknowledgments and affidavits within their commissioned state.

Depending on the country, an Apostille can be referred to as a Certification or a certificate. Every country is different, and the authentication process will vary based on if a country is a member of the Hague Convention or not. An experienced Apostille Facilitator can help you navigate the process for Hauge and Non-Hague members.

Legal Power:

The Apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country. An apostille holds legal validity when used abroad, in foreign courts and government bodies, verifying signature authenticity, the signer’s capacity, and the legitimacy of seals or stamps. A notary public’s authority is restricted to identifying the signers, witnessing signatures, and administering oaths within their state.

Fees: Obtaining an apostille involves higher fees compared to the notarization of a document.

Apostille Requirements:
To acquire an apostille seal for a document, you need to fulfill specific prerequisites:


Begin by authenticating your document through a notary public, who will confirm your identity and notarize the document. This step validates that the signer willingly executed the document and that the identity has been verified.

Certification: The notarized document then requires certification by the Secretary of State in your state. This step cements the document’s legitimacy and confirms the notary’s commission and authority.

Apostille Seal/Certificate:

Once certified, the document is ready for the apostille seal from the Secretary of State. This seal, containing vital information, confirms the document’s origin and enables its acceptance in most international countries for official purposes.

Apostille vs. Notarization Conclusion

In summary, the decision between an apostille and notarization hinges on your document’s intended use and international context. An Apostille is intended for use with international affairs, while notarizations are for use in the United States. Now armed with an understanding of these two authentication methods, you can confidently choose the path that aligns with your document’s specific requirements. Whether it’s an apostille or notarization, both ensure the verification and the authenticity of your vital documents.

So there you have it. Apostille and notarization offer two different ways to authenticate your documents, with some key differences to keep in mind. An apostille is typically used for international use, while a notary public can be used for documents in the USA.

Let our experts at American River Notary & Apostille help you focus on the more important aspects of your overseas travel by calling (530) 354-2400 or going online at  to discuss your document certification needs.

 Go to the HCCH Members page for a complete, up-to-date list of all participating countries.

Call to schedule an appointment today!

If you’ve made it this far, you may have realized that apostilles are a pretty big deal. They’re an opportunity to verify the validity of documents, and they can help you save money and time in the long run.

American River Notary & Apostille is here to help. We can provide you with expert advice and assistance every step of the way. We offer a range of in-office, virtual, and mobile document services. If you have any questions or concerns about what’s required for your specific situation, feel free to reach out!

You can reach us via any of the following methods:

  • 455 Grass Valley Hwy, Auburn CA  95603
  • Phone: (530) 354-2400 or (916) 758-9818
  • Email:
  • Online form:


Since 2012, American River Notary & Apostille has helped countless customers get their documents authenticated.

If you have Questions, you can reach us by calling (530) 354-2400 or go online to chat at to discuss your document and country of destination for the certification.

Eileen Bonner – Notary Public 

American River Notary & Apostille