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 explore the options listed in Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.
We do not offer in-person service. All requests must be submitted following the instructions on step 4 . For information about our service and instructions on submitting your request, please read steps 1, 2, 3, 4. If you have further questions, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions.
Our service is offered free of charge. For information on estimated processing times, see Processing times.
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
This website is the only authoritative source of information regarding the authentication services provided by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.
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 (e.g., 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 Alternatives to authentication by the Authentication Services Section at Global Affairs Canada.
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, notarized 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:
- the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council, or
- a recognized provincial translation association
Some countries may require a translator’s affidavit. An affidavit must 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.
At September 15, 2022, the average processing time is:
15 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 you do not need to hire a third-party company to submit your request to our office.
Processing can take longer if:
- we need to contact you with questions about your request
- we do not have a specimen (that is, an example) of the signature on file (for example, because the document is old)
- we need to contact the issuing or signing authority of your document
We will inform you in writing if we cannot authenticate upon returning your document.
For more information on how we count processing times.
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 recognizes these authentications as being equally valid to those performed by our department.
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
- Nova Scotia
- 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.
If you are in Canada and submitted your documents more than 25 business days ago (which is approximately 5 weeks) and wish to obtain a status update, please fill in the form available at the Check the status of your request. If you submitted your document from abroad, the wait time to request a status update is 30 business days (which is approximately 6 weeks). If you have asked us to forward your documents to a foreign embassy, high commission or consulate, please check the status with them first. Due to the volume of requests, we regret that we cannot provide status updates for requests submitted before the waiting period has lapsed.
Related services and information
- 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
- Date Modified: