State Certification of Documents to be Sent to a Foreign Country
The Certification Request Form must be included with documents submitted to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office for certification.
The Montana Secretary of State’s office can provide state certification for documents that are to be sent to, or used in, a foreign country. Both types of certification – apostille and authentication – verify that the Notary Public, Clerk of Court, Clerk & Recorder, or Vital Records Administrator is authorized to provide the notarization or certification and that he/she has done so in accordance with the Montana Code Annotated. Additional certification of a notary public by an official at the local or county level is not provided in Montana.
Based on the experience of the Secretary of State’s office, there are some common errors that cause the documents to be returned. Be aware of the following:
- The document must be properly notarized according to Montana statutes. There are nine elements required for a Montana notarial block and we cannot certify the notarization if it is not correct. Click here for printable examples of correct notarial blocks.
- If you are asked to provide a certified copy of a document, there are two things you must know:
- Public documents, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, can only be certified by someone who works in the office where the original or official copy is kept. You must obtain a certified copy of those documents from the appropriate county Clerk & Recorder’s Office, Clerk of District Court, or Montana Department of Vital Records. State certification cannot be provided on certified documents more than five years old.
- Private documents, including passports, driver’s licenses, and diplomas, may be certified by a Montana notary; you must provide the original document for the notary to photocopy. A notary cannot certify a photocopy of a document unless the original document is provided to, and copied by, the notary personally. Click here to download a notarial block to affix on a copy of a document to be certified by a notary public.
The Notary and Certifications Section of the Montana Secretary of State’s Office will pre-check documents requiring certification. Please contact us at (406) 444-1877 or 444-5379 to arrange to have this service provided at no additional charge.
Normal processing time is 3 -5 days, but we make every effort to prioritize these requests.
It is not necessary to bring the documents in person. If you do wish to come in, we do require that you make an appointment ahead of time. Please call (406) 444-1877 to set a time.
SPECIAL NOTE: Certifying and Notarizing Official School Records for Foreign Use
State certified copies of school transcripts or grade reports are frequently requested for foreign exchange students. These require an additional step before the apostille or authentication can be issued. These documents must be notarized before you can send them to the Secretary of State’s Office.
STEP 1. An authorized school official (Principal, Registrar, etc.) must certify the document:
Sample wording for school official certifying an ORIGINAL school document (Have the Principal or Registrar write this on the document):
On ___ (date)__, I the undersigned, do hereby certify that this is a true and original _ (specify the type of document)__ issued by __ (name of school)___.
[Signature of school official]
[Printed name and Official Title]
STEP 2. A notary public must then notarize the school official’s signature using a correct notarial block.
Here’s an example of how a properly signed and notarized original transcript should look:
Diplomas may be copied by any notary who will then complete or attach a copy certification block on the back side of the copy. The notary must make the copy.