¿ What does it mean to notarize a document ?

It is an act whereby a State-Certified Notary Public administers an oath of affirmation to a person regarding knowledge about the document to be signed. Once the document has been signed, identification must be handed to the Notary who in turn must verify the signer’s identity. The Notary can also notarize a document as a true and accurate copy of the original, which must be done in sight of it. In both cases the Notary has to record the document’s date of notarization.

¿ What is an Apostille ?

It is an authentication procedure where an apostille or annotation is placed on a public document, certifying the authenticity of public documents issued in the country of origin. Hence, countries which have signed the Hague Convention on Apostilles recognize the authenticity of documents issued in other countries and which bear the apostille.
The Hague Apostille Convention was signed on October 5, 1961, and currently includes close to 80 countries worldwide.

Sole authentication : According to the content of the Convention, member countries are bound to recognize the legal validity of a public document issued by another country which has signed the Convention, hence suppressing the need for consular or diplomatic authentication;  to that effect,  a sole authentication or Apostille shall be requested before the appropriate local authority, where an annotation certifying the public document’s authenticity shall be consigned. Therefore, authentication by consular offices or by the destination country’s Ministry of Foreign Relations is no longer required in the case of documents for which an Apostille has been issued abroad and destined for public use within the destination country.

¿ Which public documents can bear an Apostille ?

According to the content of the Apostille Convention of The Hague, documents issued by an authority or officer affiliated to the State’s jurisdiction, including those coming from the Public Ministry or from an official secretary or agent, are deemed public documents. Documents to be used in an administrative manner, as well as official certifications placed on private documents, such as a document’s certificate of registration, certification on a date’s certainty and official or notary authentications of signatures in documents of a private nature, are also considered public documents.

Documents which have been notarized or certified as a true and accurate copy of the original document by a Notary Public of the State of Florida. Birth and Death Certificates signed by the State Registrar. Vehicle title deeds issued by the department of motor vehicles. Documents certified by the clerk of a County Court in the State of Florida.

Issuance of Apostilles does not apply for documents issued by diplomatic or consular officials or to those directly related to a commercial or customs transaction.

In the case of countries which have not signed the Apostille Convention of The Hague, the document must be notarized by Notary Public of the State of Florida and sent to the Florida Secretary of State’s office, and finally, that certification must be authenticated at the consulate of the country where it is to be used, since those countries do not recognize the apostille as an official document. (see a list of Hague Convention member countries).

¿ Which authorities can issue apostilles within the State of Florida ?

The Florida Secretary of State  is the authority responsible for the issuance of Apostilles for documents. 

¿ What is the procedure to obtain an Apostille for a document ?

The document’s holder or the person signing it must   contact   a Notary Public of the State of Florida and request   an Apostille for the document. You must indicate the country where the apostille is to be used in order to verify that that country is a member of the Apostille Convention of The Hague, and you should also ask the Notary to produce the notary document or certificate to prevent fraud, and the notary has to perform the notarization using a black or blue ink pen. The Notary must ask you for a copy of your valid and current identity document which should bear your photograph and signature in order to verify the signer’s identity. Once the notarization act is finished, the Notary Public must send the document to the State Secretary’s office so that the authority can verify both the documents and the Notary Public’s commission and issue the Apostille.

Important remark : The Apostille must bear a date later than the document’s or notarization date, or it will be be rejected.

¿ What is a certified translation ? 

In the United States, a certified translation is a translation done by a professional translator, who certifies its completeness and accuracy in writing. You cannot do the translation yourself, even if you are qualified. Other countries (or consulates) might abide by different regulations, and it is therefore advisable to enquire in advance.

¿ What is a notarized translation ?

A notarized translation is a translation where the translator states before a notary that the translation is complete and accurate. The notary charges a fee for this service.

¿ Is a certified translation valid in other countries ?

We are asked this question almost every day. A certified translation has different meanings according to each country. Many European countries have a government agency which certifies translators in select languages. Nevertheless, there’s no such government agency in the United States. What is generally required is a notarized translation done by a professional translator. You can’t do the translation yourself, even though you are qualified. The translator shall vouch for the translation’s completeness and accuracy before a notary, and shall also include a signature along with the translation.

¿ Is it necessary to present the original document ?

No. We can do the job with any legible copy of the document.

¿ How will the certified translation be sent to me ?

We will send you an electronic copy (PDF) when the translation is finished. In the case of notarized documents, we can send the translation by postal mail anywhere worldwide ( we only charge for destinations outside the U.S.A. or for night delivery services ).

¿ What types of documents can be notarized ?

  •  Birth Certificates
  •  Visa applications
  •  Marriage Certificates
  •  Academic transcripts
  •  Death certificates
  •  Legal documents and contracts