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Document Certification - The "Apostille"
The requirement of an Apostille (ah-poh-steel) is an important new development for international travelers. An Apostille is an additional certification that will be required for all notarized documents, including but not limited to birth certificates, death certificates, marriage and divorce certificates. While you may have used original, certified copies of these documents in the past with no problem, that will not continue to be possible.

is an Apostille?
It is a "cover" document that is issued by the Bureau of Notaries in the State where the document was notarized. This branch of the Secretary of State reviews the notarization, checks it against their records, and verifies that the individual who notarized the document was, in fact, legitimately licensed to do so.

did the concept of an Apostille come from?
The countries who are parties to the Hague Convention agreed many years ago to use this vehicle for verification of identity, but the system was never fully implemented. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, however, it has become more and more important to ensure correct identification procedures are used, and the apostille is now "in fashion". If the country where the document was issued was a party to the Hague Convention, you must obtain this additional certification for your documents. The United States was a party; Canada was not.

if I'm from Canada?
You will still need to have your documents additionally certified at a Mexican embassy in Canada, but this extra certification is much easier to obtain and is not called an "apostille". We are currently researching whether or not we can help you with this process as well.

should I have the Apostilles done?
Now. The process will take a minimum of two to three weeks, and is more likely to take five to six weeks. Then your documents will be ready when you want to apply for immigration documents, purchase property, or take other legal actions here in Mexico or in other countries.

is the Cost?
Each State has its own fee schedule, and the average cost is $20.00 USD per document. An attorney's office can take care of the entire process for you, for an additional fee. You may wish to take care of the matter yourself, and if you wish to do so, contact the Office of the Secretary of State in the state(s) where the document(s) were issued for procedures on how to obtain apostilles for your documents.

if my Documents are not Certified or Notarized?
You may order certified documents from Departments of Vital Statistics, obtain certified documents such as divorce decrees through the attornedy who handled the matter on your behalf. The fees are similar to those for acquiring an apostille. Then when the certified or notarized documents are received, these can subsequently be sent for apostille. Obtaining these original documents will take an additional three to six weeks.
For any legal action here in Mexico, you must have certified or notarized documents. The most common documents needed are birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and divorce decrees. After the documents have been certified or notarized, they must be additionally verified by an apostille if the document is from the U.S., or by the Mexican government if the document is from Canada.

Take care of this important "detail" in advance so that your travels and dealings in Mexico are as smooth and trouble-free as possible!

This information is provided courtesy of Adriana Perez Flores, Attorney at Law ~ Ajijic Legal and Immigration Services ~ Ajijic, Jalisco C.P. 45920 Mexico Email: or visit the website:

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