Apostilles, Authentications, and Certificates of Magistracy


The Colorado notary business has its unique terminology. Many of the terms can be confusing for people that are just starting. One of the more unique terms is "apostille."

What is an apostille, and, more importantly, how do you pronounce it? It's a French word that is pronounced "ah-po-STEE" and it means "certification." An apostille is needed for documents notarized for use in a foreign country. In simple terms, it's one country's way of letting the other country know that the person that notarized the document is legit and is a form of authentication. An even more confusing part is that sometimes a document called a certificate of magistracy is needed instead. So which one do you need and when?

It's quite simple: an apostille is accepted for legal use in all nations that are members of the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961. A list of member countries may be found here. A certificate of magistracy is used for authentications for all other countries.

Examples of the types of documents that would need one of these forms of authentication are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Powers of attorney
  • Death certificates
  • Adoption dossiers

To have a document authenticated in the state of Colorado, you must send the Secretary of State's office the following:

  • The original document (not a copy). This document must be notarized by a Colorado Notary Public or certified by Vital Records or the county clerk's office.
  • A fully complete authentication request form.
  • Payment payable to the "Colorado Secretary of State" for the appropriate amount listed on the fee schedule in the form of a check or a money order.

These documents should be mailed to:

Colorado Secretary of State
Notary Program
1700 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80290

Documents are mailed back from the state on the next business day after the state receives them. Documents are not processed on holidays or weekends. You may also pick up the document after 10:30 the next business day. The state recommends using an express or overnight trackable service like FedEx or UPS when mailing documents. You may include a paid label if you want the state to send it back via one of these shipping methods.  Documents that are hand delivered to the Secretary of State's office before 4:30 PM can be processed while you wait for an additional fee.

To ensure the fastest service from the state, please be sure that the document:

  • Contains original signature(s) that are not stamped or photocopied.
  • Is complete with all blanks filled in or crossed out.
  • Contains a complete notary statement that includes the state and county where the notarization occurred and the date of the notarial act.
Colorado Notary Training Course