Authentication of documents: 1. Before you start

The Apostille Convention will take effect in Canada on January 11, 2024

Visit the Changes to authentications services in Canada for information on changes to authentication services in Canada.

Our processing times are higher than normal

Check the Alternatives to authentication page before sending your request to the Authentication Services Section.

If there are alternative options available for any document in your submission, it may take longer to process your request.

Please be aware that processing times are consistent whether you submit directly to our department or through a third-party service provider.

On this page

Authentication is sometimes required before you can use a Canadian document abroad. Authentication speaks to the genuineness of the signature of a public official found on a document. In other countries, authentication is also known as apostille. After being authenticated, your document may need to be legalized by the authorities of the country of destination (for example, by their embassy, high commission or consulate in or accredited to Canada). To be authenticated, your document must bear an original, recognized signature (and seal, if applicable).

Canada is a party to the Apostille Convention, which simplifies the authentication process by removing the requirement for legalization for documents intended for use in other countries that are party to the convention. Documents authenticated by a Canadian competent authority will be issued an apostille certificate, or “allonge,” which is a separate document that will be securely affixed to the underlying authenticated document.

To find out if your document requires authentication, see the section below. To explore alternatives to authentication by Global Affairs Canada, please visit our Alternatives to authentication section.

Unless otherwise indicated, you must submit your documents in paper format by following the instructions outlined in steps 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Check whether your documents need to be authenticated

Please note that not all countries require the authentication or legalization of Canadian documents before they can be used in their territory. The same applies to the requirement to submit a statement in lieu of certificate of non-impediment for marriage if you intend to get married abroad. Therefore, as first step, confirm the requirements by contacting the authority requesting your document or the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country where your document will be used:

If you receive confirmation that your document must be authenticated, we would suggest you to consult Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.

Where to send your documents

Where you send your documents will depend on where it was issued or notarized. Competent authorities in some provinces issue apostilles, and Global Affairs Canada issues apostilles for documents issued by the Government of Canada and for documents issued or notarized in specific provinces and territories.

Documents to be sent to Global Affairs Canada

You will send to Global Affairs Canada documents:

  • issued by the Government of Canada
  • issued or notarized in the following provinces and territories:
    • Manitoba
    • New Brunswick
    • Newfoundland and Labrador
    • Northwest Territories
    • Nova Scotia
    • Nunavut
    • Prince Edward Island
    • Yukon

If your document was notarized in a province or territory listed above, you will send it to Global Affairs Canada no matter where it was originally issued.

Some documents need to be notarized before a competent authority can authenticate them. This may include some documents issued by the Government of Canada. The province or territory where your document was notarized will determine the competent authority to which you must send it.

Check the existing requirements before submitting documents.

Documents to send to a provincial competent authority

Competent authorities in the following provinces are responsible for issuing apostilles for documents issued or notarized in their respective provinces:

You will send documents issued in the provinces listed above to that province’s competent authority.

If your document was notarized in Alberta, Ontario, or Saskatchewan, you will send it to that province’s competent authority regardless of where your document was issued. In British Columbia and Quebec, the competent authority can authenticate a notarized document only if the original document was issued in the province.

Global Affairs Canada will return documents issued or notarized in these provinces to applicants without being authenticated.

Provincial and territorial services operate independently of the Government of Canada and may have different processing times and service fees.

Get your document translated

If all or part of your document is written in a language other than English or French, you must send a certified translation (see the exception below). You have 2 options:

Translation by a certified translator

A certified translation is certified by a member of a recognized provincial translation association. A list of recognized provincial translation associations can be found at the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council).

Some countries may require a separate translator’s affidavit. To be eligible for authentication, the  affidavit would need to be signed and sealed by a Canadian notary.

or

Attestation of a translation by Canadian notary public, who speaks English or French and the language in which the document was written. If this is the case, ensure that the notary public adds to their declaration the following statement:

  • They attest to speaking both languages
  • They certify the accuracy of the translation

Exception: We do not need translations for:

  • Canadian university diplomas issued in Greek or Latin.
  • Proof of life documents (also known as life certificates) drafted in a foreign language related to a foreign pension benefit. The text must not exceed half a page and on the application form you must indicate that it is a proof of life document. If the text is longer than half a page, it must be translated according to the instructions above.

Reasons we cannot authenticate your document

If we cannot authenticate your document, we will inform you in writing.

We cannot authenticate the following documents:

  • documents without an original signature or seal (for example, plain photocopies)
  • documents with unknown seals or with signatures we are unable to verify
  • religious documents (for example, baptismal certificates, religious marriage certificates, or other documents issued by a religious institution)
  • documents are of foreign origin (we can only authenticate Canadian documents)
  • documents issued by unrecognized educational institutions
  • glued documents
  • laminated documents
  • documents covered with any substance that would make it difficult to place a stamp on them

We can decline authentication and refer your case to the appropriate authority if

  • the content of your document is believed to be misleading
  • the document or the authentication process may be used for fraudulent, illegal or misleading purposes
  • we have doubts about the veracity of the document, or the notarial act, or if we deem it to infringe upon our policies

Fees

We do not charge a fee for our service.

Processing times

Before submitting your request to the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada, given our higher than normal processing time you we recommend you to explore the options listed in Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada page. Please note that you may need to enquire with the appropriate foreign authority directly (e.g. the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country of destination of your document) to find out which of the options outlined there are available to you. Please also note that our department will be prioritizing requests for which none of the options listed on that page are available. As a result, if one or more alternatives (such as provincial authentication) are available for at least one document within your request, a longer processing time will apply.

Estimated processing time for requests received as of August 2023 or later:

When no alternative is available: 30 business days

When one or more alternatives (e.g. provincial authentication) are available: 45 business days

from the day the request is delivered to our office. You must add up to 5 business days for mailing time.

Please note that the processing time posted above is an average estimate at a point in time. Some types of requests may be processed more quickly and others may take longer depending on their nature or complexity. Please also note that processing time may fluctuate depending on work volume and operational factors. This turnaround applies to all the requests submitted prior to the current date.

We do not offer expedited services. For that reason, please send your request with as much notice as possible and ensure to take into consideration all the timelines and deadlines that apply to your case. If you have exceptional and urgent circumstances (generally defined as an unexpected event outside of your control that makes it impossible to wait the regular processing time) and want us to consider processing your document in priority, you may contact us. Please note that we are unable to consider a request for emergency processing if one or more options of the ones listed in Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada are available to you.

Note: Please be advised that you do not need to hire a third-party company to submit your request to Global Affairs Canada. Processing times are the same whether you submit their request to our department directly or via a third-party service provider.

Contact details

Before contacting our office, please read steps 1234 and 5, the Frequently asked questions section and, if applicable, the Statement in lieu of certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad page.

Status updates: Please note that the Authentication Services Section can provide a status update regarding a request only after certain wait time has lapsed. If you have asked us to forward your documents to an embassy, high commission or consulate, check the status of your documents with them first. For information on the minimum wait time to request a status update and to access the status update form, please visit Check the status of your request to authenticate documents.

Access our contact details

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