An apostille or certification validates the origin of a public document to be used in a foreign country. The Office of the Secretary of State is authorized to authenticate these documents if they have been notarized by a North Dakota notary public or are a certified copy of an official document from North Dakota. By issuing an authentication, the Secretary of State certifies the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity of the person who signed the document, and the identity of the seal or stamp on the document (if appropriate). The authentication does not certify the content of the document itself.

Depending on which country the document is intended to be used, this special authentication is known as an "apostille" (for countries that are a party to the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961) or a “certification” (for all other countries). 

The Hague Apostille Convention is an international treaty that made the apostille process for authenticating documents less cumbersome. The only certification needed is the single apostille. Countries that are not part of the Hague Apostille Convention may require additional authentication of the document beyond the certification issued by the Secretary of State.

Examples of documents that may require an authentication include:

  • Business documents (examples: company bylaws, articles, certificates of good standing)
  • Birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates
  • Power of attorney documents, probate wills, judgments, divorce decrees
  • Diplomas, school transcripts
  • Documentation for overseas adoptions

Request an Apostille or Certification

To get a document authenticated by the Secretary of State, you must first obtain a certified copy of an official document from the appropriate North Dakota entity or have the document notarized by a North Dakota notary public

It is recommended that documents be submitted for review by the Secretary of State prior to mailing the originals to ensure the requirements for authentication will be met and the final authentication can be processed as quickly as possible. To have your documents reviewed prior to final submittal, send the documents and your contact information to the Secretary of State by email to

When you are ready to submit your documents for authentication, the following must be included:

  • Original documents
  • A letter specifying for which country the document is intended
  • Payment of $10 per authentication plus $5 per record search 
    • A record search fee is required for each unique notary signature to be authenticated. For example:
      • 2 documents are notarized by 2 different notaries public - $10 record search fee
      • 2 documents are notarized by the same notary public - $5 record search fee

Submit original documents and the fee to:

North Dakota Office of the Secretary of State
600 East Boulevard Avenue, Dept 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500

Requests are usually processed within 3 business days if all the required information and the payment are satisfactory. The authentication will be returned by United States Postal Service first-class mail. If you prefer expedited return service, such as overnight or priority delivery, submit a prepaid and pre-addressed shipping label with your request for authentication.

Our team wants to serve you with quality and efficiency. If you plan to visit our office for assistance, we encourage you to make an appointment by calling the Notary Unit at (701) 328-2900. 

Authentications of School Records

One of the most common requests for authentication is for school records, such as a diploma or transcript. If you need an authentication for a school record, the following must be submitted:

  • Copy of the transcript, including:
    • Student's full name
    • Numerical class year in school (example: 9, 10, 11, 12)
    • Academic year (example: 2010 – 2011)
    • School's name and address
  • Copy of the school's certificate (example: diploma)
  • Official letter signed by the principal or individual who has the same authority, which contains:
    • Official school seal
    • Student's full name
    • Statement that the student has met all the requirements of the school
  • An original acknowledgement page attached to each of the above documents
    • The principal of the school or individual who has the same authority must affix his or her signature to each acknowledgement before the same notary public for all 3 acknowledgement pages
  • Cover letter to the Secretary of State's office, which clearly states:
    • Country in which the document will be used
    • Name and contact information of an individual to contact with any questions
    • Specific instructions as to where the authentication is to be mailed
  • $10 fee for each authentication plus $5 fee for each record search.


The school documents submitted for authentication should not be stapled together. After the documents and fee are received, the Secretary of State will complete the process that is followed for all document authentications.



Disclaimer: Content provided on this website is for informational purposes and not intended as advice. Consultation with legal, tax, and/or business professionals is recommended to ensure appropriate consideration of the implications of your decisions.