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Apostille for State vs. Federal Documents

You’ve been told you need to obtain certain documents for your overseas travel, some are state documents, and others are federal. Plus, these documents need to be apostilled or legalized. We understand that this can be a confusing process and are here to help.

Some common questions are:

  • What is an apostille?
  • What is the difference between an apostille and legalization?
  • What is a State document, and what is a Federal document?
  • Can I obtain the apostille on my own?

This article will answer these questions, and we are here 7 days a week to answer any more you may have.

What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a certification attached to each document that verifies the authenticity of the paper. The Hague Convention of 1961 established a uniform certification that is accepted by all member countries. This means that countries such as Australia, Belize, Spain, Morocco, and 113 other countries can use the same apostille layout.

What is the Difference Between an Apostille and Legalization?

If the country you are traveling to is not a member of the Hague Convention of 1961, you must follow a different authentication process. To have your papers legalized, you must contact the country’s embassy and work with them to authenticate each piece of your paperwork. This can sometimes be tricky if you do not understand the intricacies of each embassy.

What is a State Document and what is a Federal Document?

Depending on what paperwork you need, you must contact either the state of origin or the federal government to obtain the required documents. Here are some examples of each:

State Documents are obtained from the issuing state and must be apostilled by that Secretary of State:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driver’s license
  • Marriage/death certificate
  • High school Diploma / college degree

Federal Documents are obtained from the federal government and must be apostilled by the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.. Here are some examples of each:

  • Passport
  • FBI background check
  • Social security letter
  • IRS tax forms

Obtaining the correct paperwork is the first step in this entire process; the next step is knowing if you need to contact the State or Federal offices to get an apostille.

Can I Obtain the Apostille on my Own?

Yes, you can acquire an apostille for each document on your own… but working with us is faster and easier.

On your own, you will need to ensure each document is either an original document (not a copy) or when a copy is acceptable, which papers should first be notarized, and do you need an apostille or legalization. Then you must submit the correct forms along with each document to the right state or federal office. You will need to pay each state and federal office individually for the apostille or the country’s embassy for legalization.

And then you must wait for each one to come back in its own time.

So yes, you can obtain the apostille or legalization on your own… but why would you put yourself through that?

One Source Process to the Rescue

Don’t worry about figuring out if you should contact the State or Federal offices or even the country’s embassy – we have been doing this for many years and can help you through the red tape. We know exactly what documents need to be original and when a copy is acceptable, who to contact, and how to get this done quickly.

We’re here to help you.

To get started, simply fill out the Order Form Here. Please tell us what you need and upload the required documents. We will review your information for FREE and let you know if anything is missing or incorrect. We will then tell you the pricing and turnaround time of the order.

Once you’re ready, simply click submit.

We want to make this process as straightforward as possible. Please Contact Us Here if you have any questions.

Apr 22, 2021 / by Brandon Yoshimura


  1. deborah miller
    July 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    My daughter is studying at Univ in Spain next year. Going Sept 2.
    She needs:
    Criminal record check certificate. (valid for 6 months) Students over 18 must present original and copy of the criminal record check certificate issued by FBI and legalized with the Federal Apostille of the Hague Convention requested to the Department of State in Washington DC.
    How can you help us with this?

    1. Danny
      July 17, 2023 at 3:08 pm

      Hello Deborah,

      We can assist! To ensure that we can process your documents accurately and promptly, we kindly request that you upload a copy of your documents for review through our order form available at After submitting your documents, one of our specialists will be assigned to review them and provide you with a quote and review results via email. If you choose to proceed with the service, the specialist will also send you a payment link to start the apostille process.

      Thank you,


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