How so I get an Apostille done quickly from another state?
January 19, 2008 7:32 PM   Subscribe

How so I get an Apostille done quickly from a state other than where the event occured?

I need an Apostille for both a criminal background check and a birth certificate for a work visa for a job in Argentina. I have a fairly recent birth certificate from Ohio but need the criminal background check.

- Can I get the background check done anywhere in Ohio and do I need to be there to get it?

- Does anything need to be done to the birth certificate before I take it in for the Apostille?

- Is there a quicker, more painless process than physically going to Ohio? (I live in Washington, DC but am on vacation in MN)

I was just told that I need this done and it's due February 1st. Argh. The State Secretary for Ohio website isn't very helpful.
posted by brokekid to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
I have no idea what an apostille is.

Naturally, I googled it and found an ad for this. There are probably other services to have this done besides these folks. Looks like you won't have to go to Ohio.
posted by yohko at 8:43 PM on January 19, 2008

You don't need to go anywhere. Criminal background checks for immigration are usually done via the FBI, not individual states. I got mine from the UK. My partner and I needed them from every country we'd ever lived. The US was the most difficult and took the most time. (All told, we needed UK, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria and the US).

Most immigration officials are aware these things take time, and proof of having requested such a check should be good on a temporary basis, until the checks come through.
posted by Goofyy at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2008

Don't let the word "apostille" freak you out. It's basically very similar to getting papers notarised, though much more expensive and more specialist. I've had to deal with this sort of thing for work, and it's not as painful as you might think. We received a referral from the law firm we were using at the time for an apostille. Do you know someone who works for a law firm who can help you with this? If not, call the Argentinian embassy and ask them if they can provide you with a referral. Are you going to need the documents translated as well?

I'd be more worried about getting the criminal records check paperwork back in a reasonable timeframe than in finding an apostille, tbh. Either way, good luck!
posted by Grrlscout at 9:02 AM on January 20, 2008

An Apostille, AFAIK, should be issued by the Secretary of State where the document to be authenticated was issued. I have yet to run into a case where this is not true.

For your birth certificate: You'll need a 'long form' birth certificate (aka certified copy). Nothing else needs to be 'done' to it. If you can't go in person to the State Secretary's office, you fill out this cover letter provided, and send check/money order for $5.00, self-addressed stamped return envelope, and the documents to the address listed on the cover letter.

A background check I thought had to go through the FBI (I haven't personally needed it yet). The FBI doesn't do the Apostille, though, so I would imagine you would need to contact the State Secretary of Virginia (where the document was issued) to inquire about obtaining the Apostille.

I would double check with the Argentinian consulate to see what form/s of background check are acceptable. Like Goofy, in certain cases I would need a background check from my place of birth, and each place of residence after the age of 14. Each of these would have to have the Apostille issued by the respective Secretaries of State.
posted by romakimmy at 3:41 AM on January 21, 2008

I got a Cambridge University (that's Cambridge, UK)-issued certificate notarized and apostilled in California at the Secretary of State's office in Los Angeles, for use in Latvia. (Long story.)

Mosessis' answers in my quasi-similar question are here and turned out to be correct: basically an apostille doesn't certify that your document is authentic, but DOES certify that the notary who notarized it was, in fact, a real notary.

Here's what I did for my certificate:

1. Went to a local postal center (not a post office, but one of those private places where people have PO boxes), showed ID and the certificate to the guy, told him it was real, and he notarized (stamped/signed) a legal-sized copy of it.

2. Took the notarized copy to the county clerk's office and had the notary's seal/signature authenticated. They printed out a document that said the notary's signature was legitimate and stamped/signed this, and attached this to the notarized copy of my certificate.

3. Took the above to the relevant desk in the satellite office of the California Secretary of State at the State of California building in Los Angeles (I asked the receptionist at the entrance about apostilles and she told me the exact room!), told them the country I wanted the thing apostilled for, and ten minutes later, received a very official looking document reading "apostille" on nice paper with an impressed seal, basically saying the whole thing was legal (I don't have it in front of me, but I'm on month five in Latvia and have had zero problems with immigration, so I presume it was fine).

The whole thing cost $30 or so.

As for getting an apostille in DC, there seems to be a DC city/district/whatever office that deals with apostilles here:

DC Office of the Secretary
Notary Commissions & Authentications Section
441 4th Street NW Room 1C-090
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-3117

Worth a phone call, at least, to find out if they can certify something issued in another state but notarized in DC. Good luck!
posted by mdonley at 8:22 AM on January 25, 2008

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