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3 things customers get wrong — and Notaries need to know — about apostille services

A document on a table

Offering apostille services can be a good way for Notaries to earn additional income and diversify their services. But customers can be confused about what Notaries can do when they provide “apostille services.”

The National Notary Bulletin spoke with Frank Metayer, owner of Apostilles Near Me in San Diego, California, about offering apostille services as part of a mobile Notary business. Metayer said that if Notaries want to offer this service, it’s important that you understand what an apostille is and make it clear to customers exactly what services you can provide.

Below are 3 things customers often misunderstand about apostille services, along with what every Notary should know:

  1. Notaries do not issue apostilles
  2. Notaries do not provide apostille certificates to customers
  3. An apostille cannot be issued unless the document is notarized 

1. Notaries do not issue apostilles

The most common misconception is that a Notary can issue customers an apostille for a document on the spot. That’s not true, Metayer says. An apostille confirms that the Notary’s commission is valid on notarized documents sent to foreign countries. The notarized document must be submitted to an appropriate state government agency in order to have an apostille attached. Notaries offering apostille services are paid a fee by customers to deliver the notarized document to the government agency that issues apostilles.

2. Notaries do not provide apostille certificates to customers

Customers may also ask if Notaries can provide an apostille certificate for the customer to attach themselves. Again, because Notaries do not have the authority to issue apostille certificates, they cannot provide these certificates to customers.

3. An apostille cannot be issued unless the document is first notarized

An apostille cannot be issued if there is no notarization on the document. If a document needs to be notarized, it can be done by the Notary offering apostille services, but this is not a requirement. A different Notary can perform the notarization before the apostille is requested.

Finally, remember any notarization will be reviewed carefully

Whoever notarizes a document that needs an apostille, it’s very important that the document is notarized correctly and all rules are followed, Metayer cautioned. The receiving country will review the document to confirm everything is correct and has the right to reject the document if the notarization was not done properly.

Gail Delaney is a freelance writer.

Related Articles:

Notary Basics: Understanding apostilles


Add your comment


01 Jun 2023

Very true, make sure every detail is done correctly or they will send it back!

Jacqueleen Garcia

12 Jun 2023

As a notary I always ask the customer if they need apostille services. I also always provide them the quickest and cheapest method of getting apostille services.

Ashley KN

12 Jun 2023

I believe that the document that the customer provides is only required to be notarized if that's the type of verbiage on the document. But I thought that if it was let's say a business document, articles are organization, then there is nothing to notarize. The Secretary of State is just basically checking the authentication of the notary or public official. This part of the article saying that the document can't be apostille unless notarized sounds untrue. But with everything always check your Secretary of State requirements.

Kim Eberhardt

12 Jun 2023

So glad I had an opportunity to participate in the Apostille process firsthand. Very interesting and enlightening. There are obviously scammers on social media making it seem as if an Apostille requires a separate certificate. I recommend everyone to do your own research. Thanks for the information.

chet szerlag

12 Jun 2023

Curious, what is the appropriate “ government agency” that handles/issues apostilles ?

LaVern WJ. Bentz

12 Jun 2023

Another thing a Notary needs to know is whether or not the document is going to a Hague country or Non-Hague country. There is a major difference in how the document has to be handled. Also, whether or not the document has to be translated has to be addressed.

Tye Brown

12 Jun 2023

Not all documents requires notarization, which are federal, and public vital records. Please make sure that we provide full details, prior to posting, I'm a a teacher of everything Apostilles both for Hague and Non Hague. I get you want to throw blogs up, but please make sure you put all of the information so it doesn't confuse people.

Laura Biewer

12 Jun 2023

A small clarification, A document can be apostilled without any notarization if is was signed by a public official like the county recorder. Examples would be birth certificates and other vital records. Then the SOS would authenticate that public official signature. Important for notaries to know not to notarize this type of document.

Alma Molina

12 Jun 2023

Thanks for this information. Some clients don’t understand that. And yes, the will reject if not done properly.

Jane Stillwater

12 Jun 2023

About twice a year I get a request for an apostille. I don't even have a clue as to where to send my clients. I work in Berkeley, CA. Usually I just wave vaguely in the air and point them toward the state capital. Any better suggestions?

National Notary Association

13 Jun 2023

Hello. Some possible options would be to search online for mobile Notaries who also offer apostille courier services. For more information, please see this article:

Wil Ussery

12 Jun 2023

One key point to discern between Hague or Non-Hague countries is if their Entry Into Force (EIF) date is in effect. There is a table on the website which will show you an up to date status of every country who has signed the Apostille Convention and their EIF date. You can have a Hague or Non-Hague country that has signed the convention, but their EIF date has not gone into effect. As of the writing of this email, China and Canada are examples of this scenario. This means any documents will need to be Legalized by each country's embassy/consulate before documents can be used in their respective countries. One final point to consider is that you will need to get your documents Legalized by the US Department of State BEFORE you forward your documents to an embassy/consulate for Legalization.

Francesca Di Benedetto

14 Jun 2023

Sometimes the notary who receives the Apostille want it to be translated, as I know according to the agreement between the countries, the apostille cannot be translated. Am I wrong?

National Notary Association

26 Jun 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Matt Miller

14 Jun 2023

Mostly accurate, but not all docs being submit for Apostille need notarization, such as vital records and federal documents.

Pedro Gonzalez

19 Jun 2023

It is very unfortunate but in my State of Florida there are many notaries who deliver manipulated apostilles, that is, they apostille a series of documents from which they later extract the certification to put them in other documents, this is illegal, but this practice undermines the work of good notaries that we respect the laws and makes clients think that the notary issues the apostille, I really want to denounce them and I have written to the Governor several times but apparently nobody cares.


26 Jun 2023

The question in my previous comment wasn't well formulated. What I want to say is that sometimes the notary outside the country (USA) who receives the Apostille wants it to be translated in his/her language, in my case in Italian. As I know, according to the Haye Convention of October 1961 , for all States who issues the apostille is (in french language) and cannot be translated. Am I wrong?

National Notary Association

26 Jun 2023

Hello, thank you for the clarification. We apologize, but we only have information on U.S. state Notary laws-we do not have information available on translation requirements from Notaries in other nations. You may want to contact a consulate or embassy of the nation that will be receiving the document to see if they have more information.

David V Fuentes

19 Mar 2024

For Pedro Gonzalez coment: Mr. Gonzalez, you just gave the Idea that apostille certificates can be ordered from SOS and then later apply the certificate to any document that needs an apostille. I also think the NNA shouldn’t post such sensitive information. The best service to a client who needs his documents apostilled. Is to give them the SOS website so that the client should do it themselves. No one needs a third party handling their documents. It’s laughable all the comments here in this blog. Notaries are not a privileged agents of the state, it is a serious responsibility and a notary should behave as professional and ethical individuals. I heard about a notary who charged his customer $250 in order to get an apostille. The fee is $20 by mail and $26 in person here in California. I only hope that any notary who manipulates apostille certificates get his day in a state court of law and never be issued ANY commission or License. People are funny thinking they can get away doing things that puts a bad reputation to the law abiding notary.

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