Authentication of documents: Frequently asked questions
How long will it take to process my documents?
We count processing times from the day when we receive your documents in our office.
Processing time doesn’t include mailing time. Please plan on up to 5 business days for your documents to reach us when you send them to us by regular mail, and up to 5 business days for the documents to reach you when we return them to you.
- You must follow all our requirements and procedures. If you don't, we will return your documents by regular mail. We won't authenticate them.
- We aren't responsible for lost documents, whether shipped by regular mail or by courier.
- We can't track your documents during shipping.
We do not offer expedited services so please plan your request accordingly. If you have urgent and exceptional circumstances (generally defined as unexpected events outside of the applicant’s control and that require immediate action) and want us to consider processing your document in priority, you may contact us. Please note that you do not need to hire a third-party company to submit your request to our office.
Can I check the status of my request?
If you have not received your documents back from our office after 45 business days (approximately 9 weeks), you can check the status of your request.
Is there a rush service available?
Our office processes requests in the order in which they are received. No rush service is available at the moment. If you have urgent and exceptional circumstances (generally defined as unexpected events outside of the applicant’s control and that require immediate action) and want us to consider processing your document in priority, you may contact us. Please note that you do not need to hire a third-party company to submit your request to our office.
Can I have my documents authenticated in person?
Due to the COVID-19 situation, in-person authentication services are unavailable until further notice. Our mail-in service continues.
Is there a fee for authentication?
We do not currently charge a fee to authenticate documents.
I can't open the form. Can you help?
Try these PDF instructions.
How do I apply for a statement in lieu of non-impediment to marriage abroad?
Find out how to apply for a statement in lieu of non-impediment to marriage.
Will the Government of Canada forward my documents to a foreign embassy?
Upon request, we can forward your authenticated documents to an embassy, high commission or consulate in Ottawa. Note that due to the COVID-19 situation, some of those offices are temporarily closed, working at a reduced capacity or cannot receive mail. Therefore, before requesting us to forward your authenticated documents, we suggest checking with them first to confirm that they are fully operational.
If after confirming their operation status you want us to forward your document, please follow these instructions.
Can I send cash?
Do not send us cash in the mail. The authentication services we provide in Ottawa are free. If your documents must subsequently be sent to a foreign embassy, high commission, or consulate that requires payment, arrange payment directly with them.
Do I have to include a return envelope?
We recommend that you send a prepaid return envelope to ensure your documents can be tracked. Your documents will be sent via regular mail with no tracking capabilities should no envelope be provided.
Can I track documents returned via regular mail?
Documents returned via regular mail cannot be tracked.
What is a prepaid label?
A prepaid label is a shipping label that has been ordered and paid in advance to have your documents returned to your attention. Courier waybills with account numbers are not accepted. If a waybill is provided, your documents will be returned by regular mail with no tracking capabilities.
How can I authenticate my documents if I no longer live in Canada?
Documents can be sent to our office via mail or courier for authentication. Please ensure you have consulted the instructions applicable to your document(s).
How can I get a prepaid label outside of Canada?
We recommend you contact a Canadian company that ships internationally to provide you with a prepaid label by email. You can then print the label and include it with your documents when mailing them for authentication.
Do you authenticate original documents or copies?
The requirement for authentication varies depending on the type of document provided. Consult the authentication requirements for your specific document(s)
Can I send you a photocopy of my document instead of my original?
We cannot authenticate plain photocopies without an original signature and seal. We may be able to authenticate copies that have been certified by a notary. Consult the requirements for your document.
Can a commissioner for oaths certify a true copy?
Rules governing the appointment and authority of commissioners for oaths are set by the province or territory of appointment. It is our understanding that, in Canada, commissioners for oaths generally are not authorized to certify copies of documents.
Do I need to list all the documents on your request form or only the ones requiring authentication?
All documents requiring authentication must be listed on the Authentication Request Form. We will authenticate all documents listed on the form, provided that the applicable requirements are met. If you send us supporting documents which you do not wish to have authenticated, please do not list these on the Authentication Request Form.
Can my documents be declined?
Yes, some documents cannot be authenticated. Find out why your document can be declined authentication.
Do you authenticate documents for use in Canada?
The primary role of the Authentication Services Section is to authenticate Canadian public documents for use in other countries.
Canadian law does not require the authentication of foreign public documents before they can be used in Canada. In exceptional circumstances where authentication may be required by a Canadian organization, this service may be offered by the issuing country’s embassy, high commission, or consulate in Canada. If Global Affairs Canada’s authentication is also required by the receiving Canadian authority or organization, please email us the proof of that requirement and include an explanation. We will assess your request and strive to provide you with a response within five business days.
Do you authenticate foreign documents for use abroad?
The primary role of the Authentication Services Section is to authenticate Canadian public documents for use in other countries. As such, we are unable to authenticate foreign documents for use abroad.If you have a foreign document and need to authenticate it for use abroad, for assistance we recommend that you contact the embassy, high commission, or consulate in Canada of the country of issuance.
Can I authenticate my documents somewhere else in Canada?
Some provinces and territories offer authentication services with respect to public documents issued in their jurisdictions. These services operate independently of the Government of Canada. Our authentication office is located in Ottawa only.
Do you authenticate funeral home death certificates?
We only authenticate death certificates issued by provincial or territorial vital statistics offices. We are unable to authentication death certificates issued by funeral homes.
Do authentication certificates expire?
Authentication certificates issued by the Government of Canada do not expire. However, some foreign authorities may refuse old authentication certificates.
Can you make photocopies of my documents?
We do not offer document services such a photocopies.
Can I use a waybill to get my documents returned to me?
Courier waybills with account numbers are not accepted. Documents will be returned via regular mail if a waybill if provided.
Will you stamp my original certificates/diploma?
We use an ink stamp, which is applied directly to documents when they are authenticated. Should you not want us to stamp the original, we suggest you provide us with a certified copy. Before doing so, you should check if a certified copy will be accepted in the country where your documents will be used.
What is the difference between authentication and apostille?
Authentication proves that the signature and seal on a document are genuine, so that the document may be recognized in another country. Ordinarily, documents authenticated by the issuing country may be subject to requirements for legalization (i.e., further certification by consular authorities of the country of destination).
An apostille is a specific type of authentication certificate. Apostilles are issued by countries that are parties to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (also known as the “Apostille Convention”). The purpose of the Apostille Convention is to simplify the authentication process by removing the requirement for legalization.
At this time, Canada is not a party to the Apostille Convention and does not issue apostilles.
Why do my documents need to be notarized before authentication?
If we are unable to authenticate the signature on your document (for example, because it was not signed by a public official whose signature is known to our office) we may be able to authenticate a notarized copy.
Why do you need my email and phone number on the request form?
Your personal information is required should we need to contact you regarding the authentication of your documents.
Who can I contact if I still have questions?
Please visit our Contact Details page.
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