Authentication of documents: 1. Before you start

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

In-person authentication services are unavailable until further notice due to the situation regarding COVID-19. Our mail-in service continues.

For up-to-date information on processing time, see Processing times.

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Authentication is often required before you can use a Canadian public document abroad. To be authenticated, your document must be an original document bearing a recognized signature (and seal, if applicable). Authentication proves that the signature and the seal on the document are genuine.

In other countries, authentication is also known as legalization or apostille.

Check whether your documents need to be authenticated

Confirm requirements by contacting the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country where your document will be used:

Get your document translated

Is all or part of your document written in a language other than English or French? If so, you must send a certified, notarized translation with it.

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.

Exception: We do not need translations for Canadian university diplomas issued in Greek or Latin.

Reasons we cannot authenticate your document

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

We cannot authenticate documents for the following reasons:

  • documents without an original signature or seal (for example, plain photocopies)
  • documents with unknown seals or with signatures we can't verify
  • religious documents (for example, baptismal certificates, religious marriage certificates, or other documents issued by a religious institutions)
  • 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 if:

  • the content of your document is misleading
  • the document or the authentication process may be used for fraudulent, illegal or misleading purposes (we may refer suspected cases of fraud may be referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for investigation)

Planning to use your document in Canada?

For use in Canada, most documents don't need authentication. We only authenticate foreign public documents that have been signed and sealed by a foreign embassy, high commission or consulate in Canada.

Confirm your document's requirements. Check with the Canadian institution (e.g. university or agency) requesting your document.

Fees

We do not charge a fee to authenticate documents.

Processing times

As of September, the current processing time is:

20 business days

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

We do not offer expedited services so please plan your request accordingly.

Processing can take longer if:

  • we need to contact you with questions about your request
  • we don't have a specimen (that is, an example) of the signature on file (for example, because the document is old)

We will inform you in writing if we can't authenticate upon returning your document.

For more information on how we count processing times.

Provincial and territorial authentication services

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.

Find more information about the following provincial and territorial authentication services:

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