Authentication of documents: Frequently asked questions

  • 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.

  • 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, your foreign public document must first be stamped by an official of the country where the document was issued. In some cases, this service may be available at the issuing country’s embassy, high commission, or consulate in Canada.

  • Is there a fee for authentication?

    We do not currently charge a fee to authenticate documents.

  • How long will it take to process my documents in person?

    Find out how long it will take us to process your document(s).

  • How long will it take to process my documents via mail?

    Find out how long it will take us to process your document(s).

  • 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 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.

  • Will the Government of Canada forward my documents to a foreign embassy?

    If you want us to forward your document, you must select "Forward to an embassy/consulate" in "Shipping details" on the mail-in form, provide the full mailing address. You may wish to include a separate, sealed envelope that contains payment (if required by the embassy, high commission or consulate), photos, and accompanying documents that you do not want us to authenticate.

  • Can I track documents returned via regular mail?

    Documents returned via regular mail cannot be tracked.

  • Can I check the status of my request?

    If you have not received your documents back from our office after 20 days, you can check the status of your request.

  • Can my documents be declined?

    Yes, some documents cannot be authenticated. Find out why your document can be declined authentication.

  • I can’t open the form. Can you help?

    Try these PDF instructions.

  • Can someone bring my documents to your office on my behalf?

    Anyone can submit documents on your behalf to our walk-in service located in Ottawa. The Authentication Request Form must be completed and signed by the individual submitting the documents.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • Is there a rush service available?

    Our office processes requests in the order in which they are received. Your documents will not be processed faster for any reason. We recommend that persons who require authentication on an urgent basis present to the in-person service counter for on the spot authentication. If you cannot come to our walk-in service location, you can ask someone to present the documents on your behalf.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    You can call us at 1-833-928-1551 or email us at docs@international.gc.ca.

    Phone: Monday to Friday. 9 am - 12 pm, and 1 pm - 3 pm ET

Related services and information

Where to find us

By mail:

Global Affairs Canada
Authentication Services Section (JLAC)
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
Canada

In person:

Authentication office
111 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
1st floor (Follow the signs for JLAC- Authentication Services Section)

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