What's the difference between Apostille vs. Notary What's the difference between Apostille vs. Notary

What is Apostille vs Notary?

As a result, you need to get some important documents verified for use abroad. Do you go the apostille route or find a notary public? or both? It can be confusing to understand the difference and determine which is the right choice for your needs.

In this context, it’s also worth considering how modern solutions like the Online Signature Generate tool can facilitate the process. By enabling and using this tool, you can speed up the login process. By integrating digital signatures, you can ensure that your documents are prepared efficiently and securely, reducing the time and hassle involved in getting documents ready for international use. We’ll explore how each option works, the types of documents they are best suited for, and how digital solutions can enhance these traditional processes.

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Apostille – a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document like a birth certificate, so it can be used in another country that participates in the Hague Convention.

Notary Public –  an official authorized to administer oaths and authenticate signatures, their authority is given to them by the state in which they are commissioned.

Read on to learn more details about these two options and figure out if you need an apostille vs notary public to get your documents ready for international use. The choice is easier than you might think!

What Is an Apostille?

An apostille is an official certification authenticating the origin of a public document for use in another country party to the Hague Convention. It ensures acceptance of documents like birth, marriage, or death certificates as legitimate abroad. To obtain an apostille, get certified copies of your documents and take them to your state’s Secretary of State office or an authorized apostille service.

Notarization has less legal weight internationally than an apostille. An apostille attests to the origin and legality of the document itself, whereas a notary confirms signatures. If you require international use of personal or business documents, an apostille is usually necessary. It is a simple procedure that guarantees approval anywhere your documents are required.

What is a Notarization?

A notarization is when a notary public verifies your signature on a document, mainly for domestic use. Sign the document in front of the notary and provide a government-issued ID for identity verification. The notary compares your signature to your ID, stamps or seals the document, and signs, and dates it. Notarized documents are used for transactions like real estate, affidavits, or loans, providing an extra layer of authenticity and fraud prevention.  Always check your state’s requirements for the notarization of important documents.

Apostille vs Notary
Apostille vs Notary

Key Differences Between an Apostille and Notary Public


An apostille certifies the authenticity of an official signature on public documents for use in foreign countries that are members of the Hague Convention. Notary public is qualified to conduct oath administration and accept acknowledgments in the state in which they are commissioned.

Legal Power

An apostille carries legal weight in foreign courts and government agencies. It verifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, and the identity of any seal or stamp on the document. A notary public has much less legal power. They can only authenticate signatures and take oaths or affidavits. Their power is limited to the state they are commissioned in.


Obtaining an apostille typically has higher fees than notarization. Apostille fees are set by the state and can range from $20 to $200 per document. Notary public fees usually start at $25 per signature. Some notaries charge higher rates for more complex documents like living wills.

In summary, while both an apostille and a notary public are employed to authenticate papers, an apostille has far more legal authority in international affairs. A notary public is better suited for standard local authentication needs within their home state at a lower cost. Knowing the differences will help you choose the right type of certification for your important documents.

What are typical Apostille Requirements?

To get an apostille seal for a document, there are a few requirements you’ll need to meet.


Start by getting your document authenticated by a notary public. The notary verifies your identity and certifies the document, confirming that you signed it willingly.


Next, the notarized document needs certification from the Secretary of State in your state. This ensures the validity of the notarization and grants official status for international use.

Apostille Seal

An apostille seal is issued by the Secretary of State to the document upon certification. This seal confirms the document’s origin and includes details like the Secretary of State’s signature, state seal, document type, and registration number.

With an apostille seal, your document is deemed legally valid and acceptable for international purposes like business, education, or adoption. The apostille process simplifies authentication for international use, replacing the traditional “chain of authentication” with a single step.

Apostille vs. Notarization Conclusions

Apostille and notarization serve different purposes for document authentication, each with distinct processes.

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Q1: What is the main difference between an apostille and a notary public?
A1: The main difference is that an apostille certifies the authenticity of the origin of a public document for international use under the Hague Convention.  In contrast, a notary public authenticates signatures for domestic use and confirms the identity of the signer on a document.

Q2: How do I obtain an apostille for my document?
A2: To obtain an apostille, first get your document authenticated and notarized. Then, submit the notarized document to your state’s Secretary of State office or a designated apostille service for certification and the apostille seal.

Q3: What is the process for notarizing a document?
A3: To notarize a document, sign it in front of a notary public and provide a government-issued ID for identity verification. After confirming your signature, the notary will seal or stamp the document and sign and date it.

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