Authentication of documents: 1. Before you start
Our processing times are higher than normal
Before submitting your request to the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada, we recommend you to explore the options listed in the Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada page. 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 submission, a longer processing time will apply to the entire request. Note: Processing times are the same whether you submit your request to our department directly or via a third-party service provider.
We do not offer in-person service. For information about our service and instructions on submitting your request, please read steps 1, 2, 3, and 4. If you have further questions, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions.
On this page
- Check whether your documents need to be authenticated
- Get your document translated
- Reasons we cannot authenticate your document
- Processing times
- Provincial and territorial authentication services
- Contact details
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).
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.
Get your document translated
If all or part of your document written in a language other than English or French, you must send a certified translation (see exception below). You have two options:
Translation by a certified translator
What is a certified translation? It is a translation that is certified by a member of a recognized provincial translation association recognized (a list of recognized provincial translation associations can be found on 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.
Attestation by Canadian notary public provided they speak both languages. If that 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
We do not charge a fee for our service.
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.
Provincial and territorial authentication services
The majority of the documents processed by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada are issued under provincial or territorial authority. Most provinces and territories offer authentication services for documents issued or notarized in their jurisdiction, which some countries may accept instead of an authentication by Global Affairs Canada. These provincial and territorial services operate independently of the Government of Canada and may have shorter processing times. Global Affairs Canada fully recognizes the validity of the authentications made by the provincial and territorial offices for the purpose of legalization with a foreign authority.
Please note that Global Affairs Canada does not require provincial or territorial authentication or from organizations such as the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia or the Chambre des notaires du Québec to be able to authenticate a document.
Find more information about the following provincial and territorial authentication services:
- British Columbia
- Prince Edward Island
Before contacting our office, please read steps 1, 2, 3, 4 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.
Related services and information
- Updates – Authentication services
- Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada
- Getting married outside Canada
- Statement in lieu of certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad
- Check the status of your request
- Reasons we cannot authenticate your document
- If you are outside Canada
- Frequently asked questions
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