In the aftermath of 9/11, concerns about identity theft and fraud have been brought to the forefront in American society. Certain documents are a gateway to obtaining other legitimate documents that can help to falsify American citizenship. The birth certificate is one of the main documents that people falsify to get a driver’s license, passport or even health insurance. For this reason, other countries require authentication of birth certificates and other public documents before they will be accepted.
Visit http://apostille.us/Documents/Document_Birth_Certificate.shtml to deternine whether the country you want to visit is part of the "Hague Legalization Convention" (HLC). The HLC is a treaty that basically did away with countries having to legalize foreign public documents. It allows any country that is part of the HLC to authenticate public documents within the country of origin. The United States is a part of the HLC.
Contact the secretary of state in your state to find out how to apply for an apostille. An apostille is a one-page document that authenticates your birth certificate and other public documents. This authentication is only good in HLC countries. If the country you are visiting is not a part of the HLC, you will need to follow that country’s specific guidelines. The secretary of state's office will tell you what you need to do to apply for an apostille. Some states may require applicants to apply by mail only while other states may allow applicants to apply in person.
Fill out the necessary forms as instructed by the secretary of state to obtain an apostille. Make sure you answer every question and fill in every blank so your application will not be delayed. You will need to attach your birth certificate as well as state the country you plan on using the authentication in.
Pay the fee for applying for the apostille. States usually charge a per document fee, which can be as low as $2 and as high as $20 depending on your secretary of state.
Wait for your birth certificate to be returned to you via mail or pick the document up. The apostille will be attached to your birth certificate once it is authenticated. Attaching the apostille is confirmation that the signature and seal on the birth certificate has been authenticated. It is also certifying that the person who signed the document had the authority to sign it.
You are now ready to use your authenticated birth certificate in an HLC country.