Category Archives: Other Services

Legalization FAQs

What is Document Legalization?
In order for a document from the United States to be used in another country, the document must be authenticated or “legalized”. This is done by having the document notarized and then having official seals from US government bodies as well as the Consulate or Embassy of the destination country placed on the document so that they can be recognized as a legal document outside the US. The procedures can vary, depending on the country where the document will be used.

Do I need to notarize the document?
All documents must be notarized by a notary public in order to be authenticated and legalized, or to receive apostille – except official, certified government issued documents.

How do I notarize a document?
Specific procedures may vary, but typically the document can be taken to a notary public (often available at banks, law offices, etc.). The notary will require valid ID, and will witness the document being signed. The notary public attests to the signature and places their seal on the document.

What is Notary Certification?
This is when the County Clerk of Court at the courthouse puts their seal on a document to authenticate that the document has been witnessed by a valid notary registered in their county. This can be done at the courthouse, after the document is notarized.

Do I need Notary Certification from the local Clerk of Court?
Documents that have been notarized for legalization must be taken to the local courthouse in the same county as the notary public for notary certification; this proves that this notary is authorized to endorse this document in the state where the document originates.

What documents should be submitted to the State Secretary of State?
Documents other than US Federal Government documents must be submitted for authentication by the State Secretary of State.

  • For apostille certificate to use documents in Hague Convention member countries, the document must be submitted to the State Secretary of State.
  • For legalization of documents to use in countries that are not part of the Hague Legalization Convention, the document must be submitted to the State Secretary of State. After the State Secretary of State has placed a seal on the document, it can then be sent to MPS to process with the US Department of State and the Embassy of the destination country.
  • US federal government documents, for example, documents issued from the FDA, USDA, USPTO, EPA, or US Department of State, do not need a seal from the State Secretary of State. In this case, the documents can be sent directly to MPS to process the document legalization.

What is State Secretary of State Authentication?
Documents issued by a US court or government agency can be submitted directly to the State Secretary of State for authentication. Other types of documents must first be notarized and certified with the county clerk of court’s seal, before sending the documents to the Secretary of State. If the document will be used in a country that is a member of the Hague Convention, the Secretary of State will issue an apostille. If the destination country is not a member of the Hague Legalization Convention, the Secretary of State will issue a seal authenticating the document, so that the document can be legalized.

Documents need either apostille from the State Secretary of State to be used in a Hague Convention member country, or they need a seal from the State Secretary of State in order to be legalized by the US Department of State and the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country. Therefore all documents need to be submitted through the Secretary of State in the US State where the document originates.

Do I need a US Department of State Seal?
Unless the country where the document will be used is a member of the Hague Legalization Convention, most documents must have a seal of authentication from the US Department of State and a seal from the appropriate Embassy or Consulate legalizing the document. MPS will process the authentication and legalization for you. There are other exceptions, when the US Department of State seal is not required. In this case, MPS will process the legalization directly through the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

How do I obtain the US Department of State Seal?
Follow the steps provided by MPS, Make a full set of copies of all document(s) per set, and send the documents to MPS. MPS will process the US Department of State authentication and the legalization with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

How do I obtain the Government Seal from the country where I will use this document?
Follow the steps provided by MPS, Make a full set of copies of all document(s) per set, and send the documents to MPS. MPS will process the US Department of State authentication and the legalization with the appropriate Embassy or Consulate.

What is an Apostille?
The apostille certificate is a special seal that is used for documents that are for use in countries that are members of the Hague Legalization Convention. Members of this convention have agreed to abolish the requirement of legalization of public documents between members States.

What is the Hague Convention?
The “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents” is an agreement between certain countries that the requirement for diplomatic and consular legalization will not be required for public documents to be used in other member countries. Public documents can include documents issued by a court or an administrative authority (such as civil records), and executed before a notary. Such documents require an Apostille certificate, which can be issued by a State Secretary of State, and should not need any further authentication.

Is the US a member of the Hague Legalization Convention?
The United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents since October 15, 1981.

Call today for licensed professional notary services that fit your schedule.

Types of documents that may require notarization:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Deeds
  • Contracts
  • Affidavits

What we need to facilitate your request:
Bring a valid government issued photo ID with you when visit. Laws vary by state and some documents may require witness in addition to the notarization. (In most cases, the notary cannot act as a witness.)

Why do documents need to be notarized?
A notary public acts as an impartial third-party witness to not only the signature of a document, but also that all parties who signed a document did so willingly and under their own free will.

MPS provides authentication services to US Corporations, US Citizens and foreign national on all US documents that will be utilized abroad.

Before shipping documents to MPS, have all non-government issued documents notarized by a Notary Public.

For document(s) from the United States to be used in another country, the document must be authenticated and legalized, or must receive apostille. (Note: the apostille is only for countries that are members of the Hague Legalization Convention).

Legalization of documents requires the notarization and authentication of each document, including having official seals from the U.S. Department of State and the Consulate or Embassy of the destination country placed on the document. Procedures for legalization can vary depending on the country where the document will be used.

Some countries are members of the Hague Convention (Hague Legalization Convention). US Documents are considered legal for use in member countries by getting an “Apostille”, which is a type of seal from the Secretary of State in the US State where the document originates.

Legalization of documents for use in a country that is not part of the Hague Legalization Convention requires a different procedure. The document, (unless it is a government issued document), must first be notarized by a local notary public.

Then the notarized document must be taken to the local courthouse for notary certification.

Documents then go to the Secretary of State for the US State where the document is from to obtain a seal. All of this is done in the local State where the document originates.

After this, the documents can be sent to MPS to complete the legalization process.

The notarized document with a seal from the local State Secretary of State should be sent to MPS along with our legalization order form. MPS experienced staff will then submit the document to the U.S. Department of State for an official State Department seal, if required. Finally, the document can be processed by MPS through the Embassy or Consulate of the destination country for authentication. Once this process is complete, MPS will return the legalized document with all of the required seals.

  • Government issued documents do not require steps 1-3. They may be photocopied and sent to MPS for US State Department and Consular Authentication.
  • Have the document notarized by a licensed notary public.
  • Take the document to the courthouse (in the same county as the notary public) and obtain notary certification. This notary certification confirms that the notary public that endorsed your document is authorized to do so in your state.
  • Submit the document to your Secretary of State to obtain a certification of the county clerk’s signature.
  • Photocopy the complete set of documents to send to MPS along with all originals.
  • Complete the This is MPS’s service order form, where you will select the processing needed and make your payment. You must print the completed form and send it to MPS with the original document(s) plus a complete set of photocopies.
State Department
Fee
Processing
Time
Embassy
Fee
Service
Fee
$8 Per
Document
4-5
Business
Days
Varies $150

MPS Visa - Legalization Service Form

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What is a passport?
A passport is a travel document that serves as the ultimate form of proof for your citizenship. Every country issues passports to citizens of that country.  US passports are issued by the United States Department of State.

Do I need a US passport?
American citizens require passports to exit and enter the US and all other countries in the world. It is your responsibility to carry the correct identification while traveling abroad.

How does Matisse obtain a US passport for me?
Matisses provides passport services for US citizens by submitting proper documentation on your behalf to the United States Department of State.  This eliminates the need for you to visit, communicate, and correspond directly with the Department of State. Matisse also provides a full line of passport services including First Time Passports, Passport Renewals, Additional Pages, Child’s Passports, and Passport Name Change services for US passport holders.  Please go to the Passports section of our website to see the full range of passport services Matisse provides.

How long is my US passport valid?
If your US passport was issued when you were 16 years old or older, your passport is valid for 10 years. If your US passport was issued when you were 15 years old or younger, your passport is valid for 5 years.

I need to visit a Passport Acceptance Facility before I can submit my application to Matisse.  Where can I find a Passport Acceptance Facility in my area?
Visit the United States Department of State Passport Acceptance Facility Search Page to find a Passport Acceptance Facility near you.

When applying for a US passport renewal, will my old passport be returned to me?
Yes, your old US passport will be returned unless it is deemed to be damaged by the United States Department of State. The passport will clearly indicate that it is invalid and it is important that you advise whether any valid visas remain in the passport before applying for it to be renewed.

How long must my passport be valid for international travel?
Most countries require that a passport be valid for at least six months beyond the completion of a trip. If your passport expires sooner than that, you must apply to renew your passport.  Please view the Visas section to determine how long a passport must be valid for each specific country of travel. In the event that your passport is set to expire, Matisses can assist you. Please visit Renew Passport for details.

Can Matisse obtain additional passport pages for my US passport?
Yes.  Matisse can obtain additional pages for your US passport.  Please visit Additional Pages for details.

How many blank passport pages do I need to meet entrance requirements and what is considered a ‘blank’ passport page?
Passports must have enough blank pages to accommodate entry and exit immigration stamps for each country of travel. At least one visa page in your passport is required for each visa. Most travel visas that are stamped into your passport require an entire blank visa page. A ‘blank’ visa page must be clean, clear, and not show ink or stains from any other pages in the passport.

I got married or divorced recently and have changed my name. Can Matisse help me change my name on my US passport?
With proper documentation, you are able to change the name listed in your US passport.  Matisse can assist you with this process by submitting the necessary documents on your behalf.  Please go to Passport Name Change for details.

Can Matisse replace my lost or stolen US passport?
With correct documentation, Matisse can replace your lost or stolen US passport in as little as a day. Please go to Lost or Stolen Passport for details.

Do my children require US passports?
Yes. Each individual citizen, including infants, must possess his or her own passport. You are not allowed to represent other members of the family inside your passport. Matisse can assist you if you need to get a new child passport or if you need to renew a child’s passport.  Visit Child’s Passport to learn about passport requirements for children.

How old must my children be to apply for a Child Passport?
Your children must be 15 years old or younger to apply for a child passport.  Visit Child’s Passport to learn about passport requirements for children.

Can Matisse help me obtain a passport if I am not a US citizen?
Matisse can assist with all passport services for Australian, British, Indian, Irish, and Israeli citizens residing in the United States and in possession of a valid US Green Card.  Visit Foreign National Passports to get a Passport Application Kit.  If you are a foreign national residing in the US from another country, please visit your country’s nearest embassy or consulate for further details regarding passport services.

What is a passport submission appointment and why is it necessary?
A passport submission appointment is required for all passport services.  If you need a service in less than 3 weeks, you must call the Matisse Customer Care Center to schedule your appointment with a Matisse Visa and Passport Specialist.  For passport services with a processing time of 3 weeks or longer, a passport submission appointment is made once your completed application is received by the Matisses office location designated in your Passport Application Kit.

What is a passport authorization letter?
A passport authorization letter is a letter that authorizes Matisse to act as your representative when submitting your passport application.  The United States Passport Agency requires that you sign this letter before they will release your new or updated passport to us once your order is complete.

Can I use a photocopy of a United States Department of State Passport Application Form?
No. You can only submit original copies of these forms.  You can find instructions for downloading and printing the US Department of State Passport Application Forms in our Matisses Application Kits.  Go to Passports to get a Matisses Application Kit.

Can I fax my completed forms to Matisse?
No, you must submit original copies of all documents and order forms to Matisses for processing.

How long will it take Matisse take to process my passport?
Matisse can process your passport in as little as one day.  Each passport service supports a variety of processing times to meet your specific travel needs.  Visit the Passports section, select your service and determine the best processing time for your order.

When does Matisse apply ‘rush’ and ’emergency’ fee surcharges for passport processing?
Matisse applies the ‘rush’ surcharge when provided 4-10 business days for processing after we receive your completed application. The ’emergency’ surcharge applies when Matisse is given 3 business days or less for processing after we receive your completed application.  Standard processing applies to all orders that are given 11 days or longer to be processed.

What forms of payment does Matisse accept?
Matisse accepts payment by most major credit cards including:

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

What mailing method does Matisse recommend for submitting my completed Matisse Passport Application kit?
Matisse recommends using FedEx, UPS, or other traceable methods of delivery when submitting your completed Matisse Application Kit.

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