State Certification of Documents to be Sent to a Foreign Country
The Montana Secretary of State’s office can provide state certification for documents that are to be sent to, or used in, a foreign country. Both types of certification – apostille and authentication – verify that the Notary Public, Clerk of Court, Clerk & Recorder, or Vital Records Administrator is authorized to provide the notarization or certification and that he/she has done so in accordance with the Montana Code Annotated. Certification of a notary public by an official at the local or county level is not provided in Montana.
We can only apostille or authenticate certified copies of official records issued in Montana within the last five years.
The Certification Request Form must be included with documents submitted to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office for certification.
- Normal processing time is 3 -5 days. We do not offer priority processing service at this time.
- The Notary and Certifications Section of the Montana Secretary of State’s Office will pre-check documents requiring certification prior to submission. Please contact us at (406) 444-1877 or email [email protected] to arrange to have this service provided at no additional charge.
- If you wish to bring your documents in, we require that you make an appointment ahead of time. Please call (406) 444-1877 to set a time. Appointments will only be made after we have pre-checked all documents.
- Documents brought in without an appointment will be accepted subject to standard processing. A staff member will call you to notify you when the documents can be picked up.
If your documents are to be returned by mail, you must provide us with a pre-addressed stamped return envelope or pre-paid shipping label. We strongly recommend that you use a mail service that provides tracking capabilities. Requests that do not include a return envelope or mailing label will be sent using standard postage to the address on the request form. We are not responsible for documents that are lost in the mail.
Our office will not certify improperly notarized documents. Notaries should be advised that they must complete full and complete, statutorily appropriate notarial blocks for all documents they notarize. If the notary has any questions, he/she should refer to the Montana Notary Public Handbook or contact our office for more information.
Based on the experience of the Secretary of State’s office, there are some common errors that cause the documents to be returned. Be aware of the following:
- As noted above, the document must be properly notarized according to Montana statutes. There are statutory requirements for a Montana notarial block and we cannot certify the notarization if it is not correct. Click here for printable examples of correct notarial blocks.
- If you are asked to provide a certified copy of a document, there are two things you must know:
- Public documents, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, can only be certified by someone who works in the office where the original or official copy is kept. You must obtain a certified copy of those documents from the appropriate county Clerk & Recorder’s Office, Clerk of District Court, or Montana Department of Vital Records. State certification cannot be provided on certified documents more than five years old.
- Private documents, including passports, driver’s licenses, and diplomas, may be certified by a Montana notary; you must provide the original document for the notary to photocopy. A notary cannot certify a photocopy of a document unless the original document is provided to, and copied by, the notary personally. Click here to download a notarial block to affix on a copy of a document to be certified by a notary public.
Information for Exchange Students
Can be found at on the Information for Exchange Students page