As a Mobile Notary diversifying your revenue stream is a way to continue to grow your business. A service commonly added to the Notary business is providing Apostilles. The word apostille is of French origin. It is derived from the word postille meaning “annotation.”
An apostille is a certificate issued by the government which verifies the authenticity of the Notary Public’s signature or any other public official. This certificate is attached to the document or documents that have been notarized.
What it is indicating is that the signature and seal on the document is valid and the receiving foreign country (country of destination) can accept the document. While a Notary Public cannot issue an apostille, the way you earn an income is by assisting your client in getting their documents accepted by the issuing government agency. In that role, you are known as the Apostille Agent.
Most commonly a client will call for help with an apostille when there are international activities such as destination weddings, transfers of real estate, adoptions, work relocations, etc. Vital records such as birth certificates or documents such as a Power of Attorney will be needed in these types of events. The state in which these documents are issued is known as the state of which it originated. These documents need to be authenticated and the apostille comes from the state in which they originated.
Apostille services and/or Authentication Certificates validate the commission of the Notary Public or that of any other public official and are sent to other countries. The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961 was an international treaty that expedites the process of authenticating these types of documents. Its purpose was to provide a uniformed method of validation for the purpose of foreign countries.
Most countries in the world are members but, if not there may be additional paperwork needed. In circumstances where a foreign country is not a member, a client may need to reach out to the embassy of that country for further assistance. The process here would be known as legalization and most commonly the use of an authentication certificate takes the place of an apostille.
For further reading, the travel.state.gov has a great article on Apostille Requirements.
Apostille Agent Responsibilities
What are your responsibilities as an Apostille Agent? In conjunction with notarizing documents an agent can provide courier services, provided certified copies, contacting federal agencies and/or follow up with foreign agencies. This additional service complements what most Notary Publics have in place in their business already.
If you are interested in this type of work, we recommend you first reach out to your Secretary of State’s office. This type of work is very advantageous if you happen to live near your Secretary of State as you may need to pick up and deliver documents to them often. However, many times notary publics will pay a courier service to transport documents of this nature.
Secretary of the State Office
The Secretary of State’s office can certainly give you additional guidance and information on their processes and procedures. The fee structure you can charge for apostille-related services is at your discretion as you are not limited by State’s regulatory fees based on Notary laws. As such, these services should be charged and recorded separately from your notarial acts.
Apostille Service Fees
It’s recommended that you do some research on your competition before establishing your fees. Apostille service fees could cost $150-$300 depending on the urgency and type of certificate.
This type of work is an excellent way to bring in additional income to your notary business. It may sound a bit complicated but, once you have done a few of them you will see it’s a matter of coordinating the documents to ultimately get to where they need to be!
Did you enjoy today’s article? Please check out our article about expanding revenue with non-notary work with legal courier services.