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Apostilles and authentications

Legalisation of documents issued in the United States

If you were born overseas and are using a US name change document to change your name, you must have the document legalised with an apostille or authentication.  For US documents, apostilles are much quicker and easier than authentications.

  • For marriage, death and birth certificates, contact the office of the state Secretary of State (not the US Department of State) to obtain an apostille.  For example, if you were married in Alaska, you obtain an apostille certificate for your marriage certificate through the office of the Secretary of State for the state of Alaska. Click here for contact details for state Secretary of State offices.   Please check with the apostille office whether the certificate you have is signed by someone whose signature is suitable for an apostille.  In some cases you will need to order a new copy of your certificate that is signed by an official whose signature can be used for an apostille.  The Secretary of State's apostille office can advise you on which signatures are suitable for apostilles.
  • For court orders, contact the court for details on how to obtain an apostille.   Please check with the court whether the particular version of the court order you have is suitable for an apostille.  In some cases you will need to order a new copy of the court order that is signed by an official whose signature can be used for an apostille.  The apostille office at the court can advise you on which signatures are suitable for apostilles.

Note: We can only accept a US name change document if the name change event (eg. the marriage) occurred AFTER the date you became an Australian citizen.  If your name change occurred before the date you obtained Australian citizenship, you should apply for a new citizenship certificate in your new name. 

Legalisation of foreign documents issued outside the United States

If your name change document was issued outside the United States, then you will need to contact the embassy of the country that issued that document to find out how to have it legalised.  Wherever possible, you should seek to have an apostille issued as this is the quickest and easiest form of legalisation.  However not all countries issue apostilles (check here for a list of member countries).  Countries that do not issue apostilles will legalise your document via authentication.

Note:  We can only accept a legalised foreign name change document if it was issued AFTER the date you became an Australia citizen.  If your US name change occurred before the date you obtained Australian citizenship, you should apply for a new citizenship certificate in your new name. 

Authentications

If your document was issued by a country that does not issue apostilles, you will need to have it authenticated.  Find out from the embassy of the country that issued your document how to have it authenticated.  It may involve multiple authentications as authentication is a chain where each person verifies the signature of the official that came before him/her - eg. if a document was issued by a local county, a state official will authenticate the signature of the county official, then a federal official will authenticate the signature of the state official.  

Once your document has been authenticated at the federal level by the country that issued it, you must obtain one final authentication from the Australian embassy/high commission that has jurisdiction over the country that issued the document.  There is a fee for this service.  For example, if your marriage certificate was issued in Jamaica, the final step in the chain of authentication is to have the Australian High Commission in Trinidad authenticate the document, because that office has responsibility for Caribbean countries.  If your marriage certificate was issued in Canada, the Australian High Commission in Ottawa will perform the final authentication. 

The final authentication must be done by the Australian embassy that is responsible for the country where your document was issued.  It cannot be done at an Australian embassy or consulate in the United States.