Apostilles and Authentications

The Office of the Secretary of State processes two types of certifications for documents to be used internationally: Apostilles and Authentications. The office handles over 14,000 cases a year! Both types of certifications have the same requirements, fees, and instructions. 

This service may be needed for conducting business in another country, getting married outside of the United States, providing or receiving a power of attorney, international students verifying their Wisconsin education, and more.

Helpful Links and Information:

​​​Watch the Video Instructions​​

Processing & Fees:
The Secretary of State’s office offers two processing speeds–standard (which takes an estimated 7-20 days from the day the office receives the documents) and expedited (which takes anywhere from 2-4 business days).  Walk-in expedited service is also generally available same-day at the Secretary’s office in the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

  • Standard service costs $10 per document​
  • Expedited service costs $35 per document
  • Fees are accepted in the form of cash, check, or money order
  • We cannot make change for bills larger than $5​0

Acceptable documents:

  • Documents that have been certified or issued by Wisconsin Public Officials, Wisconsin Notaries, certain Court Officials, and University of Wisconsin Registrars and/or Presidents can be submitted to this office.
  • Documents issued by officers or persons outside of Wisconsin should be submitted to their state or country of origin.
  • Each document requires a signature and seal of an approved Official or Notary.
  • Yes, documents can be sent in languages other than English!  The Secretary of State’s office however must be able to read the certification/notarization and will utilize a translation service to check the basic contents of the document.

Important reminders:

  • When requesting certificates from the Secretary of State's office, it is important to specify which country is requesting the authenticated document(s).
  • The Office is not able to issue certificates for states or territories within the United States, including Puerto Rico.
  • DO NOT alter or make copies of vital records or certified copies of documents provided by state officials. Photocopies or notarized copies of these documents are not able to be processed.

Notarizing Documents

  • Any document that requires notarization must be fully and properly notarized by a duly commissioned Wisconsin notary before submittal.
  • Each notarization must: state the venue (Wisconsin, county of notarization), approved statement, date of notarization, and signature, seal, and expiration date of the notary’s commission in order to be complete.  Most documents also have a signature that the notary is witnessing as well.
  • Notaries are not in place to make comments or statements about documents, people, businesses, or legal capacity of anyone or anything.  The content of document must not include any statements made by the notary other than variations of the four shown here:

  • All school documents, unless they are University of Wisconsin diplomas or transcripts (or letters signed and sealed by a University of Wisconsin registrar) must be properly notarized to be processed by this office. All high schools and any universities outside of the UW system must be notarized.
  • If you are a Wisconsinite living or traveling outside of Wisconsin, a remote online Wisconsin notary may be used if needed.

School Documents

Any high school, middle school, or elementary school documents, etc, and any college or university documents not issued by the University of Wisconsin must be properly notarized before processing. The Secretary of State’s office will not process documents for schools outside of Wisconsin.

There are two critical requirements for school documents outside of the UW system to be processed by the Secretary of State’s Office:

  1. The student record must be first certified by the school’s registrar or other authorized faculty member. The certification must include a signature and the title of the authorized faculty member. Some schools have a stamp or seal which is acceptable but is not required.
  2. The authorized faculty member’s signature must then be notarized by a Wisconsin Notary Public, and a notarial certificate must be attached to the school record.
Many schools have a notary on staff. This notary should make sure that the school official’s signature and title have been provided by that official, should witness or acknowledge the signature of that official, and make sure that they provide the full notarization including venue, statement, date of notarization, signature, seal, and expiration date of their commission.

If the issuing school does not have a notary on staff, you can take your documents to an outside notary.  These notarizations generally take one of two formats:

  • ​An adult (parent or guardian, or adult student) writes a statement on the document about the contents, ie “This is the original transcripts issued by [school] for [person] on [date]” and the notary witnesses that person’s signature and notarizes it.
    • A notary CANNOT witness or acknowledge someone’s signature if that person is not standing before them. They cannot make statements on a school official’s signature if it is not presented to them by that official.
  • A notary takes the original document and makes a photocopy, certifies it as a true copy, and notarizes it. 
    • A notary CANNOT make a statement that it is a true original document, that responsibility lies with the person issuing the document or the person to whom the document belongs.
    • This action should only be taken if the requesting country has agreed that a photocopy of the requested documents will be accepted in lieu of originals.