NY Notary & Apostille F.A.Q.

1. How do I notarize or certify a copy of my passport, driver’s license or other government, company or educational documents?
New York notaries have no authority to compare a copy with the original of a document and notarize it or write a statement where we “certify it is a true copy.” NY notaries are only allowed to notarize a written statement or agreement someone is making about something or someone plus the signer’s original signature, so notarizing copies of passports, educational documents, or anything else, do not qualify.

What we can do in these types of situations is notarize a statement (that can be written or typed directly on the copy or as an attachment) that the owner of the original makes about the copy. We cannot tell you what to write (since we are not attorneys), but we have seen others say something like “I affirm that the attached is a photocopy of my NY Driver’s License” or whatever the original document is (wording the NY County Clerk allows if obtaining an apostille afterwards). You can check with the person or organization receiving your documents as to whether this alternate certification/notarization format will be acceptable. Someone in management at a company can write and sign a stronger statement, where he or she certifies that a copy of a company document is a true and accurate copy (if his or her company created the document). We could then notarize that statement and signature.

None of the above techniques can be used for NYC vital records such as birth certificates, marriage certificates or death certificates (certified copies would have to be obtained from the NYC health department for birth and death records or the NYC marriage bureau for certified marriage records or from www.vitalchek.com). In addition, for education documents, your receiving authority may be looking for the school registrar to make the statement, instead of you. There is a procedure for obtaining a certified copy of your US passport through the US State Department that you can do yourself for $50 plus shipping, which is detailed here: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/npic/npic_872.html). We do not know how long it takes for this State Department method.

2. Is there a NY notary and apostille office I can visit?
For notary jobs, this is strictly a traveling Manhattan notary housecall/officecall service (A NYC notary can meet you at your Manhattan home, office, local cafe or any other convenient location for notarizations).

For the apostille service, we do offer an office to start the apostille process (at 120 East 23rd St., by appointment only). We do not provide the apostilles at the office (we obtain them for you by bringing your document to the county and state agencies within the NY government). Documents that require an apostille that don’t require notarization can be FedExed to a mailing address we can provide once the documents are reviewed.

3. Can you obtain a certified copy of my NYC marriage certificate?
Yes, we can. We would need the original of a notarized authentication letter. You can click on the link below for the wording and format required.

You can fill in the following names on the line for who to provide the records to: Michael Senz or William Plucinski.  We also will need a xerox of your marriage license that includes date and location of marriage and full names of bride and groom and birthdates.

Then we will obtain the proper authentications or apostille after obtaining the marriage certificate.

4. How do I order a NYC Long-Form Birth or Death Certificate with the required NYC Exemplification Letter?

You can order the certified long-form birth or death certificate and letter of exemplification in person or by mail through the NYC Department of Mental Hygiene at 125 Worth St. in Manhattan. You can paste the following NYC web address into your internet address bar for more information: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/vr-birth-general.shtml on how to order birth and death certificates.

If an apostille is your objective, be sure to check off “apostille” or write “apostille”in the top corner of the birth and death certificate application if ordering in person or by mail from the NYC Dept. of Health. Be sure to also check off “yes” when asked “whether you need a letter of exemplification” and write “extended long form birth certificate” at the top of the application when ordering in person at the NYC Department of Health. You can often expect to wait for over an hour standing on a line if you order the NYC certified birth and death certificates in person (and you will receive the documents by mail 10-14 days later, not there). You should also know that the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene sometimes refers to the Certified Long-Form Birth Certificate as the “vault” copy.

You can also order NY birth certificates online through Vitalchek, a third-party partner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Office of the City Clerk, either at vitalchek.com or by calling 1-877-854-4481. Be sure to check off “apostille” on the Vitalchek.com website when they ask for the “reason for ordering the certificate.” It won’t mention the Exemplification Letter. It will just come automatically with the birth certificate. Death certificates with the Letter of Exemplification have to be ordered through the NYC Department of Health.

It usually takes at least 10-14 days for the NY certified birth or death certificate and Letter of Exemplification to arrive in the mail. These two organizations do not provide the apostille; they simply provide you with the correct documents that are needed to then obtain an apostille, which we can help you with.

5. How does it work with a mobile or traveling notary public and what is the difference between a mobile notary and a regular notary?

A mobile notary is just like any regular notary public except that a New York City mobile notary travels to your Manhattan location to notarize your documents. In addition to the $2 fee allowed by law for each notarization, mobile notaries in NY are permitted to charge a travel fee. NYC mobile notaries are, typically, much more knowledgeable about how to properly notarize a document since we notarize all day, 7 days a week, while notaries who notarize on a part-time basis typically have minimal notary public training and experience. About 75% of the notarizations we see from other notaries are done incorrectly. You can witness the frequent rejection of improper notarizations at the NY County Clerk’s office. All we will say here is: Let the buyer beware. To set up a traveling NY Notary appointment, simply provide us with your window of availability so we can schedule a time and you choose the location.

6. What on earth is an “apostille” anyway?
It means “word that is impossible to pronounce or spell.” No, not really. Actually, it is a French word (pronounced ah-poh-STEEL) and is often misspelled as “apostil” and “apostile” (even on the signage at the NYC Secretary of State’s office where it is produced!). It is a form of authentication issued by the New York Secretary of State that is attached to foreign-bound documents being sent to countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. For more details on how we can help you with the NY apostille process, click on the “NY apostille” link at the top of this page. We can even help you pronounce it.

7. Can you notarize a document written in a foreign language?
Yes, as long as we can communicate with the signer directly in English. If a notary statement is not included on the document for us to sign, we can add it. We cannot sign a notary section in another language.

8. Do you notarize on weekends?
Yes, we provide New York mobile notary service on weekend afternoons and early evening (both Saturday and Sunday)…and even most holidays. The New York County and State offices are not open on weekends for NY apostille processing, but we can get things started by having a NY Notary meet you during the weekend or receiving the documents by FedEx on a Saturday.