Types of Authentication
The intended destination of a document determines the required type of certification.
- An Apostille is issued for documents intended for use only in foreign countries that are party to the Hague Treaty.
- A Certificate of Authority is issued for all other countries, many of which will only accept documents certified at both the state and federal levels. The original document must be signed in front of a notary public and must contain original signatures. As a reminder, a notary public cannot make a true copy statement in the State of Michigan.
The apostille is a creation of an international treaty, the Hague Convention of 1961. The United States of America joined the Hague Convention in 1981. The Convention provides for, among other things, the certification of public documents to be used in countries that have joined the Convention. In accordance with the provisions of the Convention, this office issues apostilles only for documents intended for use in foreign countries that also are signatories of the Convention. This document is the equivalent of a Certificate of Authority used in countries that are not participants in the Hague Treaty.
An apostille has the same requirements, the same fee, and the same instructions as a Certificate of Authority. Apostilles cannot be issued for use in the United States
Certificate of Authority
The Office of the Great Seal is authorized on behalf of the State of Michigan to certify and issue Certificates of Authority for:
- Michigan Notary Public notarized documents. Documents must be complete and contain original signatures.
- Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death, or Divorce) - Certified copies from one of the following:
- A Michigan County Clerk
- The Michigan State Registrar 517-335-8666
- City Clerks in the counties of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland only
- Certified Copies of Articles of Incorporation issued from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Authentication Request Form and Instructions
Step 1: Ensure Documents are Properly Signed by Appropriate Official
Verify that your documents have been signed by an official whose signature the Secretary of State has authority to authenticate. See certificate of authority section above.
Verify that all vital records are certified copies.
If your documents were notarized, verify that the notary included all of the required information:
- Notary name and signature
- Date of notarization
- Commission Expiration date county of commission
- County of Expiration if different than county of commission
Step 2: Submit Documents to Secretary of State
Send your completed Authentication Request Form, documents, a self-addressed stamped return envelope and a check or money order made payable to "State of Michigan" to the Office of the Great Seal's mailing address.
- Or -
Present documents in person to the Office of the Great Seal, the Secretary of State Marquette County Plus office, or any of the Secretary of State SUPER!Centers. A directory is available.
Step 3: Pay $1.00 Document Certification Fee
For each document to be authenticated.
Step 4: Receive Authenticated Document
Your documents will be returned to you with an Apostille or Certificate of Authority, which is determined by the country of destination.
Certifying Vital Records
Only certified copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records by a Michigan County Clerk; City Clerk or Registrar in the counties of Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb only; or the Michigan State Registrar are eligible for authentication. Original vital records cannot be accepted for this purpose. Documents issued by court clerks or received via fax are not acceptable.
Out of state vital records (birth, death, marriage and divorce) can be authenticated provided it is a certified copy issued from that State's State or County Official and contains the raised State or County Seal. The owner of the record is required to write a "true copy" statement on the back of the record or on a separate sheet of paper attached to the record. A sample true copy statement to provide below:
To Request records from State Registrar
To request certified copies of these records from the State Registrar, please telephone 517-335-8656. Note; this is not the phone number for the Office of the Great Seal. To contact the Office of the Great Seal, please email us at MDOS-NOTARY@MICHIGAN.GOV.
Mail or Courier Service
If you wish to mail your request, you must use the following address:
Michigan Department of State
Office of the Great Seal
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918.
Please send your completed Authentication Request Form, a check or money order payable to the State of Michigan in the amount of $1.00 per authentication requested and a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of the documents. Please do not send cash.
If you want your documents returned via courier service, please remember to include a pre-paid air bill and envelope, showing yourself as the sender. It may take as long as 2-3 weeks before your documents are returned, depending on the mail delivery and processing time.
Document authentication is available on a walk-in basis at the following locations. Click name of the office for more information about that office.
Office of the Great Seal - Richard H. Austin Building 1st Floor, 430 W. Allegan Street, Lansing, MI
Capital Area SUPER!Center - 3315 E. Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI
Clinton Township SUPER!Center - 37015 Gratiot Avenue, Clinton Township, MI
Detroit New Center SUPER!Center - Cadillac Place Building, 3046 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI
Flint Area SUPER!Center - 5512 Fenton Road, Flint, MI
Grand Rapids SUPER!Center - Centerpoint Mall, 3665 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Livonia Area SUPER!Center - 17176 Farmington Road, Livonia, MI
Marquette County PLUS - 1250 Wilson Street, Suite 103, Marquette, MI
Oakland County SUPER!Center - 1270 Pontiac Road, Pontiac, MI
U.S. Department of State Authentications Office
Further information may be obtained from the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office at 202-647-5002.
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