Authentication of documents: 1. Before you start
On this page
- Check whether your documents need to be authenticated
- Get your document translated
- Reasons we cannot authenticate your document
- Planning to use your document in Canada?
- Processing times
- Provincial and territorial authentication services
- Contact details
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.
We do not charge a fee to authenticate documents.
Please note that our office is dealing with a higher-than-normal volume of requests. Please submit your request sufficiently in advance, taking into consideration the authentication and legalization timelines.
As of October 2021, the current processing time is:
25 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 the processing time is only an estimate and it may fluctuate depending on work volume and operational factors.
We do not offer expedited services so please plan your request accordingly. If you have urgent and exceptional circumstances (generally defined as unexpected events outside of the applicant’s control and that require immediate action) 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 don't 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 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:
- British Columbia
- Manitoba (PDF version, 247 KB)
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Quebec – educational documents
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 submitted your documents more than 35 business days ago (approximately 7 weeks) and wish to obtain a status update, please fill in the form available at the Check the status of your request. 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 35 business day period has lapsed.
- Date Modified: