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Legalisation of foreign documents

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. 

The United States is a member country of the 1961 Apostille Convention and can issue Apostille certificates for official public documents. This is generally much quicker than obtaining an authentication. 

Public documents issued by the fifty US states and the District of Columbia can generally be issued with an apostille by the office of the state Secretary of State (not the US Department of State). These include documents issued by state or local courts and civil records such as marriage certificates.

For example, if you were married in the state of Alaska, then you should obtain your 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.  

The Clerks and Deputy Clerks of the Federal Courts of the United States are authorized to issue apostilles on documents issued by those courts. Procedures vary from court to court. Contact details can be found at www.uscourts.gov . As an alternative, the US Department of Justice may authenticate the seal of the Federal court and the US Department of State Authentications Office will then place an apostille over that seal.

Note: We can only accept a legalised US name change document if it was issued AFTER the date you became an Australian citizen.

Important:  The apostille must be performed on the signature of the person who issued the document.  For example, if you are obtaining an apostille for a US marriage certificate, the apostille must be for the person who issued the marriage certificate (not the marriage licence).  Some states can only apostille certain signatures and may not be able to apostille the signature on the version of the marriage certificate that you have.  It may be necessary to obtain a new version of your marriage certificate so that an apostille can be issued, especially if your certificate was issued by your local county and not the state.  Please discuss this with the Secretary of State's office beforehand to make sure they can apostille the signature of the person who issued the certificate.  If they cannot, you will need to apply for a new version of your marriage certificate before you apply for an apostille.

Legalisation of all other foreign documents

If your name change document was issued outside the United States, you should 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.  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.

Please note that we can only accept a legalised foreign name change document if it was issued after the date you became an Australia citizen.