Expand Your Notary Business by Offering Apostille Services

Providing apostille services is an effective way to grow your notary business. Clients commonly request apostille services to assist them in obtaining apostilles or authentications, which enable their documents to be accepted abroad.

An apostille is a certificate issued by a government agency, usually a secretary of state’s office, confirming the authenticity of a notarized document. An apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature and seal of a notary public or public official, thus allowing the document to be accepted in another country.

Apostilles are valid in countries that abide by the Hague Convention of 1961, a treaty that allows the use of public documents abroad. Countries not signed up to the treaty are issued a different authentication certificate in lieu of an apostille. Such documents may require additional certifications from the U.S. Department of State and the country's embassy to which the document will be sent.

Who Needs Documents Apostilled?

Anyone who seeks to live, work, study, or get married in another country or plans to conduct business overseas may need certain documents to be apostilled. These include birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, U.S.-issued school transcripts, diplomas, and degrees. Companies seeking to conduct international business may require additional corporate documents such as articles of incorporation, organization agreements, and certificates of existence to be apostilled in order for those documents to be accepted in another country.

How to Start an Apostille Service in Your State

The good news is that you do not need to be licensed by any government agency to provide an apostille service. You do not even need to be a notary. (This was true as of the time this article was written. Always check for changes to the law before proceeding.) However, being a notary gives you an advantage because customers seeking your notary services may also require the notarized document to be apostilled.

Notaries interested in offering this service should contact their secretary of state’s document authentication section to learn the process required to submit documents to be apostilled on behalf of their clients. The process involves a learning curve that may take some time for you to master. You can search online using the keywords “secretary of state authentication or apostille office” to locate your state's apostille and authentication government office.

After learning the process, market your services to the public, law offices, large corporations, and adoption agencies. You should also create a business website or add the apostille services to your existing website and spread the word on social media about your services.  

The Benefits of Being an Apostille Agent

Providing apostille services has several advantages. You can incorporate apostille services easily into your mobile notary work and schedule. You can also set your fees since apostille services are not subject to notary laws. As a result, you can generate a significant amount of income. Some apostille agents charge hundreds of dollars for same-day apostille or walk-in services, which can save weeks of time compared to mailing a document to the secretary of state.   

Important things to Remember:

  • Many admonishments and disciplinary actions against notaries for improper notarization result from documents presented to the secretary of state’s office for authentication. Ensure your notarization is flawless if you prefer not to receive a suspension letter.
  • A notary cannot issue an apostille; only your secretary of state can issue one. As an apostille agent, you are responsible for providing a courier service to deliver the document to the secretary of state to be apostilled and sent back to you or your customer.

Working as an apostille agent can be professionally rewarding and profitable. It is a great opportunity to expand your portfolio of services and generate more income. You will also be providing important services to the public in addition to what you already do as a notary.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information. However, it is important to note that the information provided on this page is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. We do not claim to be attorneys and do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information provided. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. You should always seek the advice of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss, or consequential loss, out of or in connection with the use of the information contained on any of the American Association of Notaries website pages. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their state’s notary authorities or attorneys if they have legal questions. 

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.