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  • Writer's pictureMitch Tandeske

What is the difference between a Notary and Apostille?

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

A notary and an apostille are both involved in the certification and verification of documents, but they have different purposes and functions.

A notary is a person authorized by the government to witness the signing of documents and administer oaths. Notaries are typically used to verify the authenticity of signatures on legal documents, such as wills, deeds, and contracts. They also certify that the signer is who they say they are and that they signed the document willingly and with full understanding of its contents.

An apostille, on the other hand, is a special type of certification that is used for international documents. It is a stamp or certificate that is affixed to a document to confirm its authenticity and validity. The apostille is issued by a government authority, such as the Secretary of State, and it verifies that the document was signed by a notary or other public official who is authorized to do so. The apostille is recognized by countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention and is used to facilitate international business and legal transactions.

In summary, a notary is used for verifying the authenticity of signatures on legal documents, while an apostille is used for authenticating documents for international use.

How do I get a document notarized in Oregon or Washington?

To get a document notarized, you will need to follow these general steps:

  1. Find a licensed notary public: In the greater Portland, Oregon area, including Vancouver, Washington and SW Washington a convenient and fast option is Notary of Portland. Notary of Portland is a professional Mobile Notary firm headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Notaries can also be found on-site at some banks, post offices, courthouses, and private offices. However, many on-site notaries will only offer notarization of documents directly related to their business or services. Most of these on-site notaries will not notarize complex legal documents such as estate planning documents, Last Wills, Powers of Attorney, real estate transaction documents. Notaries with a professional notary firm, such as Notary of Portland, are trained, experienced and insured to offer the full range of notarization services.

  2. Bring the document and a valid ID: Bring the document you need notarized and a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport. Document and Signer/Witness Requirements

  3. Sign the document in the presence of the notary: You will need to sign the document in the presence of the notary, who will verify your identity and witness your signature.

  4. Pay the notary fee: Notaries typically charge a fee for their services, which can vary depending on the state and the type of document being notarized. Additional fees will apply for mobile notary time and travel, printing and courier services if needed.

  5. Receive the notarized document: Once the notary has verified your identity and witnessed your signature, they will affix their official seal or stamp on the document, indicating that it has been notarized.

It's important to note that notaries can only witness and certify the signing of documents and in some states they can certify copies of documents and identification; they cannot provide legal advice or prepare legal documents. Notaries Public are not authorized to certify copies of vital records such as birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates. These documents require authentication or legalization by apostille.

How do I get an apostille in Oregon or Washington?

To get an apostille, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the type of document you need to have apostilled: Apostilles can be issued for documents that are considered public documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, and transcripts.

  2. Obtain a certified copy of the document: You'll need to get a certified copy of the document that you want to have apostilled. This means that the document must be certified by the issuing authority, such as a registrar or a notary public.

  3. Contact the competent authority in your country: In most countries, the competent authority responsible for issuing apostilles is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Secretaries of State. For assistance with this process in Oregon or Washington, call or contact Notary of Portland, a professional Mobile Notary firm located in Portland, Oregon. For apostille in Oregon visit the Oregon Secretary of State website. For apostille in Washington visit the Washington Secretary of State website.

  4. Submit the application: You'll need to submit an application form, the original document, and the fee to the competent authority. The application form should be available on their website or at their office.

  5. Wait for the apostille: The competent authority will issue the apostille, which will be attached to the original document or a certified copy of the document. The apostille verifies the authenticity of the document and ensures that it can be used in another country.

  6. Verify the apostille: Once you receive the document with the apostille, you should verify its authenticity by contacting the relevant authority in the country where you intend to use the document.

Note: The process for obtaining an apostille may vary depending on your country of origin and the country where you intend to use the document.

How do I get help with obtaining an apostille in Oregon or Washington?

Notary of Portland offers professional services to coordinate obtaining an apostille in Oregon and Washington. Notary of Portland is a professional Mobile Notary firm located in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. We are a team of Notaries Public commissioned in Oregon and Washington that bring notarization to you. Whether you are at home, at work, in a hospital or senior living facility - we travel to you! We primarily travel throughout the Portland metro area and SW Washington however our service is available statewide in Oregon and Washington.

Notary of Portland is available 24/7. We offer easy online scheduling of same day or future appointments on our website. We are licensed, bonded, insured, well-trained and experienced. Whether it’s a single page affidavit or a stack of estate planning documents or contracts with multiple signers in different locations – we are ready and able to assist. We offer document printing, scan and email service and will courier documents before and after signing to title companies, attorney firms or any other location in our service area. And, if additional witnesses are needed, we can provide them. Visit us online at or call/text 971-599-3080.


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