NY Notary & Apostille F.A.Q.

1. How can I get a notarized or certified copy of my passport, driver’s license, utility bill or other government, company, educational, or ID document?
New York notaries, and most notaries in the US, have no authority to certify a copy of a document, where we compare a copy of a document with its original and notarize it or write a statement where we “certify it is a true copy.” NY notaries cannot notarize the copy itself either.Unfortunately, this is something that many other county’s notaries can do, so it causes a lot of frustration and confusion. We are only authorized to notarize a statement written and signed by the person named in the original document about the copy (which can be attached to the copy or added somewhere where there is space on the copy itself. It is usually preferred that the statement and our notary info be on the same page as the document being copies, not on a separate page…but you can check with your receiving authority if a separate page will be ok). We will then include and sign a notary statement and our notary stamp and embosser to the same page your statement is on.

Passports should be copied actual size, so there is room on the same sheet to add your self-attesting statement and our notary stamps if doing on the same page as the copied image.

We cannot tell you what to write since we are not attorneys, but the type of statement that gets approved the most frequently for copies of things like IDs (especially for obtaining an apostille) is “I swear that the attached is a true photocopy of my original NY Driver’s License” or the name of whatever the original document is. You can use a statement that is a little stronger such as “I certify that this is a true and accurate copy of the original in my possession” if not for an apostille or authentication by NY government agencies. You can check with the person or organization receiving your documents about what to write and whether this alternate certification/notarization format will be acceptable.

If a copy is of your company’s document (created by your company), we have seen company management write and sign the stronger statement, where he or she certifies that the copy “is a true and accurate copy”.  We would then notarize that statement and signature. The County Clerk has approved this type of statement in the past if being used for an apostille or state certification.

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, but it is at least several weeks.

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 apostille service, we do offer an office to start the apostille process (at 234 Fifth Avenue, between 27th and 28th St., by appointment only/walk-in service is not available). Note: We do not provide the apostilles at our 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 different mailing address, which 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?

The easiest way to order the certified long-form birth certificate is 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. Be sure to check off “apostille” on the Vitalchek.com website when they ask for the “reason for ordering the certificate.” It won’t actually 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.

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 the birth certificate and death certificate in person or by mail through the NYC Department of Mental Hygiene at 125 Worth St. in Manhattan. You can visit them online at www.nyc.gov.

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, just kidding. Actually, it is a French word (pronounced a-poh-STEEL) and is often misspelled as “apostil” and “apostile”. It is a form of authentication issued by the New York Secretary of State that is attached to certain 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.

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

8. Do you notarize on weekends?
Yes, we provide New York mobile notary and apostille 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.