Apostilles and Authentications

State Certification of Documents to be Sent to a Foreign Country

GENERAL INFORMATION

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 provided by the Secretary of State’s Office does not verify the accuracy or reliability of the contents of the record.

  • Certification of a notary public by an official at the local or county level is not provided in Montana.
  • 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.
  • We can only apostille or authenticate certified copies of official records issued in Montana within the last five years. 
  • We cannot certify documents intended for use in Puerto Rico.  The U. S. State Department has advised us that, as a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico must give full faith and credit to public documents issued by the states, evidenced by Federal Rule of Evidence 902.
THE PROCESS
  • The Certification Request Form must be included with all documents submitted to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office for certification.
  • You must send the original (or certified copy) of the document you want certified by our office.
  • To avoid delays and rejected documents, the Notary and Certifications Division of the Montana Secretary of State’s Office will pre-check documents requiring certification prior to submission. Please scan the documents you want certified and email them to [email protected] to have this service provided at no additional charge.
  • Once the documents are pre-checked, you may mail them to us, drop them off, or make an appointment to have the documents certified while you wait.
Mail-in Service

Original certified or notarized documents may be mailed to:

    • Notary & Certifications Division
      Montana Secretary of State’s Office
      PO Box 202801
      Helena, MT 59620 -2801

FedEx and UPS shipments should be addressed to:

    • Notary & Certifications Division
      Montana Secretary of State’s Office
      1301 E. 6th Ave
      Helena, MT 59601
  • Provide 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.
  • Normal processing time is 3 – 5 business days from receipt by the Notary and Certifications Division.
Drop-off Service
  • Documents which have been pre-checked may be dropped off at the Secretary of State’s office:
    • Secretary of State’s Office
      Room 260
      Montana State Capitol Building
      Helena, MT
  • You will be contacted by phone or email, usually within 2 business days, when your documents are ready. You may leave a pre-addressed stamped return envelope or pre-paid shipping label and we will mail the documents to you.
Appointments
  • Appointments for walk-in, same day service must be made in advance. We will not make an appointment until the documents have been pre-checked.
Walk-ins
  • Documents which are brought in without having been pre-checked will be handled as drop-offs. You will be contacted by phone or email, usually within 2 business days, when your documents are ready.  If the documents cannot be certified they will be returned for correction and must be submitted again.
COORDINATION WITH OTHER LOCAL OR STATE AGENCIES
  • We can only apostille or authenticate certified copies of official records issued in Montana within the last five years. If you have an older copy of an official record, you will have to obtain a new certified copy.
  • When requesting certified copies of official records, you must order them from the appropriate department or agency.
  • Not all departments or agencies are able send certified copies of your records directly to us. You must specify at the time you place the order that the document must be certified or notarized by department staff before being sent to the Secretary of State’s office for the Apostille or Authentication and request that the certified copy be sent to us if possible. It is your responsibility to provide any postage or envelopes necessary for documents to be sent to or from one agency to another.

Here is the contact information for the most frequently requested records:

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 certificates and we cannot certify the notarization if it is not correct.
  • 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

Montana Secretary of State – Corey Stapleton
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