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Types of Documents

The Hague Convention provides that the following are public documents that can be authenticated by this office so long as the document contains the signature of the appropriate official:

  • Documents originating in a court or tribunal;
  • Administrative documents;
  • Notarial acts; and
  • Official certificates placed on documents.

Original documents that are already certified do not need notarization.  These types of documents include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Birth certificates and Death certificates certified by the Ohio Department of Health or Vital Statistics.  If you need to obtain a certified copy of a birth or death certificate from the state of Ohio, you may contact the Ohio Department of Health for statewide birth certificates at 614.466.-2531, or contact the Department of Health or Vital Statistics in the county the birth or death took place.
  • Certified copies of marriage licenses or certificates.  Marriage records are on file at the county probate courts. To obtain a certified copy of these, contact the probate court in the county where the marriage license was obtained. A Certificate of Single Status can also be obtained at the county probate court.
  • Certified copies of divorce decrees, probated wills and judgments.  These can be obtained at the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where the proceedings took place. 
  • Certified copies of business organization documents on file with the Ohio Secretary of State.

Note:  Photocopies of any of these documents are acceptable for authentication but only if properly notarized as a true and accurate copy (with the exception of birth and death certificates).  This requires a signer to make a statement that the document is a true and accurate copy and then a notary public must notarize his or her signature.

Note about Birth and Death Certificates: This office can only attach an apostille to a certified copy of a birth or death certificate that is issued by the custodian of the record.  This office cannot accept a photocopy or copy containing the notarized signature of the document custodian.  Many foreign countries will not accept notarized copies of birth and death certificates.  See OAC § 3701-5-02.

Notarized documents. Any document properly notarized by an Ohio notary public may be authenticated.  If the document is not properly notarized, then our office cannot authenticate it.  For example, the notary public must have an active commission and the notary must complete a notarial certificate with all required information.

The following is a guide to assist you with the process of obtaining a proper notarization on the document to be authenticated.

  • Search the Ohio Notary Commission database for an active notary in your area.  You may search by name or location. If a notary commission has expired, then they do not have the authority to notarize your document. The notary search page may be found here:  Ohio Notary Public Search.
  • Review and understand the document you intend to sign.  If your document is legal in nature, then you may wish to have an attorney review the document as well. 
  • Make sure the document has a place prepared for you to sign and the notary public to sign and place his or her seal.  If the document does not contain notarial certificate language and a place for the notary public’s signature and seal then you must confirm with the notary public that he or she has a loose notarial certificate to attach.  You will need to specify the type of notarial act required so that the notary public provides the correct notarial certificate.  An acknowledgement is when you declare to the notary public that you willingly signed the document and the language on the notarial certificate typically states “acknowledged before me.”  A jurat certificate requires the notary public to give you an oath or affirmation and the certificate contains language such as “sworn to or affirmed and subscribed before me.”
  • Following the notarial act, review the notarial certificate for completeness/accuracy. The notarial certificate must include the following:
    • Language to indicate if the act was an acknowledgement or jurat.
    • The state and county venue where the notarization was performed.
    • The date on which the notarial act was performed.
    • The signature of the notary.
    • The notary public’s printed or typed name which can appear below their signature or on their notary stamp.
    • The expiration date of the notary public’s commission, if the notary public is a non-attorney. Attorney notary commissions do not expire. 
    • The notary seal which includes the coat of arms of Ohio within a circle that is at least ¾ of an inch, not larger than one inch, and surrounded by the words “notary public,” “notarial seal,” or words to that effect, and the words “State of Ohio.” The seal can be either a stamp or embosser.