Notarization & Authentication of Certificates 

 

What is notarization of a TEFL or TESOL certificate?

Notarization of your TEFL or TESOL certificate is done through a Notary Public. In general, the Notary Public will need to see the original TEFL or TESOL certificate/diploma and the ID of the individual requesting the notarization. Anyone can take it to the Notary Public, it doesn't always have to be the student. The Notary Public will then photocopy the original certificate and certify that it is a "true copy" of the original. This true copy is considered to be the "notarized" certificate. Our certificates are issued in California, and we recommend to have a Notary Public in California perform the notarization, rather than a Notary Public from another state. The reason is that if you will be sending it to the Secretary of State in California for authentication, they will only accept notarizations that were done in California. Some companies offer notarization services for a fee (see below).

 

However, you might be able to get your certificate notarized in another state. Before doing so, check with the Secretary of State (of that state) to see whether they offer Apostille/authentication services for a certificate that was issued in California (rather than their own state). Some states allow this, such as Delaware. This means that even if your certificate was issued outside Delaware, the Secretary of State in Delaware will still Apostille/authenticate your certificate (so long as a Notary Public in Delaware performed the notarization). Other states (such as California) will only Apostille/authenticate certificates if they were issued in California AND notarized by a Notary Public in California. Check with the Secretary of State in your state to see whether they will be able to notarize a certificate issued in California. Many states will.

 

What is authentication/legalization and Apostille?

The authentication/legalization or Apostille process is different from notarization. Notarization only involves a Notary Public. The authentication process and steps required are dictated by the country where you will work. You should check with the embassy of the country where you will work for the most-up-to-date rules. Below are some guidelines to help you:

 

Apostille - The countries which are in the Hague convention accept an Apostilled version of your certificate. The certificate can be Apostilled by the California Secretary of State since it was issued in California. It's possible that the Secretary of State (of another state) will also issue an Apostille certificate even though the certificate was issued in California. Some states (such as Delaware) will Apostille certificates issued in any state so long as it was notarized by a Notary Public in Delaware. Check with your Secretary of State for their rules about whether they will Apostille a certificate that was issued in California and what the requriements are. You can visit this link for more information about the California Secretary of State Authentication/Apostille process - http://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/authentication/. Please refer to this website for more information and a list of countries which accept Apostilled certificates: https://assets.hcch.net/upload/abc12e.pdf

 

Legalization/Authentication - The terms legalization and authentication are often used interchangeably. Countries that do not accept Apostilled documents will required that you go through alternate steps to make your certificate valid for use in their country - this is called legalization or authentication. The process is different for each country, so please check with the embassy of the country for accurate information.

 

Which companies/agents offer Apostille or Legalization/Authentication services?

There are many companies that offer notarization, legalization and authentication services for a fee. We recommend using these agents because the process of notarization and legalization is often messy and complicated. It involves many parties and if you are not experienced you may make mistakes that will prove more costly in the long run. They are experts in this business. Below are two companies that we suggest. Although we are not in any way affiliated with them and cannot guarantee their work, they seem to have a good reputation and are experienced with this work. Please contact each company to find out more information about fees and the process.

Apostille Pros http://www.apostillepros.com/index.html

Apostille Pros are based out of California. They offer notarization services, Apostille services and Legalization/Authentication services. Last we checked, they charge $95 (plus shipping) for Apostille service (which includes notarizing the certificate if it is not yet notarized). The Apostilled document can then be used for Hague countries. For non-Hague counties, typically you will still need the Apostilled/notarized certificate as the first step. Then, you can follow the steps required by the embassy to legalize/authenticate the document. Alternately, Apostille Pros can also handle the full legalization process for you. The fee will vary depending on the country (for example, for China it is approximately $560). However, you can rest assured that they will deal with all of the headaches and steps involved.

 

One Source Processhttp://www.onesourceprocess.com/legalization-apostille-services/

One Source Process is a larger company with a national presence in the USA. They are also able to provide both Apostille and Legalization/Authentication services. If the certificate is not notarized, they will also notarize it for you for a very small fee (so long as you use their Apostille or Legalization services). Their prices start at $150 for Apostille services (plus shipping and other associated fees), and $500 for legalization services (plus shipping and other associated fees). You can contact them to obtain a final quote for your specific country, and make sure to state whether your certificate is notarized or not.

 

 

How does the authentication process work for China?

Since China is where a large majority of TEFL/TESOL teachers find work, we have included some very general information about the process. However, the rules may have changed so it is best to verify with the appropriate regulatory parties. Parts of China (specifically Hong Kong and Macau) accept Apostilled documents, but the rest of mainland China does not accept Apostilled documents.  This means that the process depends on where your certificate will be used (normally based on where the school you will work for is located). If it is in a region that accepts Apostilled documents, you will need to have the certificate notarized and then sent to the Secretary of State to have it Apostilled. There are companies that will perform this service for a fee (see above).  If it is for mainland China, then you will need to go through the authentication process. Here is a link to the Embassy of China in the USA for more information about the authentication process: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/ywzn/lsyw/gzrz/

Please note that the China's embassy no longer accepts mailed application. Your application must be submitted in person, either by an agent or yourself at a Chinese embassy in the USA. For this reason and due to the complexity of the entire process, we highly recommend using an agent for the service.     

 

Who can get my TEFL / TESOL certificate notarized?

The notarization is done by a Notary Public, but anyone can take a certificate/diploma to them for notarization. If you're not located in California, the easiest solution is to send it to a friend in California to notarize it for you or use one of the companies mentioned above to do it for you. The student doesn't have to be physically present, so long as someone is present to take the original document. This could be an agent that you hire (see above) or a friend. California notaries are unable to notarize via mail or online. Someone must be present in person with the original certificate and ID.

 

However, you might be able to get your certificate notarized in another state. Before doing so, check with the Secretary of State (of that state) to see whether they offer Apostille/authentication services for a certificate that was issued in California (rather than their own state). Some states allow this, such as Delaware. This means that even if your certificate was issued outside Delaware, the Secretary of State in Delaware will still Apostille/authenticate your certificate (so long as a Notary Public in Delaware performed the notarization). Other states (such as California) will only Apostille/authenticate certificates if they were issued in California AND notarized by a Notary Public in California. Check with the Secretary of State in your state to see whether they will be able to notarize a certificate issued in California. Many states will.

 

 

Can UNI-Prep get my TEFL / TESOL certificate notarized?

UNI-Prep normally does not notarize certificates as this is the responsibility of students (as indicated in our terms and conditions). However, in special circumstances, UNI-Prep will get certificates notarized, but charges a fee to perform this service. Our fees are more expensive than fees charged by other companies whose exclusive business is to perform this service. We are an educational company, not a notarization/authentication business, so students will save money by using one of the companies listed above (or other similar companies). The fee that we charge is $115 USD (for shipping in the USA) or $150 (for international shipping). Apostille Pros charges $95 (and this fee includes both notarization and apostille, whereas our fee only includes notarization). As such, we highly encourage students to use a company that specializes in the service of notarization/legalization. UNI-Prep only offers the service of getting the certificate notarized - we do not offer any services beyond this (such as apostille, legalization, authentication, etc). All other steps will be the responsibility of students.

 

The reason that we charge a fee is that one of our staff must physically take your certificate to a Notary Public, arrange for the notarization to be done, wait for the processing, and then ship it to the final destination. The entire process can take several hours and the fee is for our staff time. In order to offer free notarization, we would need to raise the prices of our programs. However, we strive to offer the cheapest price possible and since students are able to notarize the certificate themselves or use an external agent, we do not include this service in our fees. We also typically use FeDex, DHL or USPS Express shipping for mailing in order to ensure proper arrival of the notarized certificate. Shipping costs may also vary depending on final destination.

 

Legal Disclaimer

We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information that is provided on this page. The information provided on this page is for the benefit of students and may not be the most up-to-date information. Notarization and authentication of certificates and diplomas is the responsibility of students and students should always check with the embassy of the country where they will be working to obtain the most accurate information on what is required. It is not the course provider's responsibility to notarize, authenticate, legalize or apostille the certificate, diploma or any other student documentation. Since the process is ever-changing and there are many parties involved, we encourage students to obtain a third-party agent to perform all required steps. Typically, employers or recruiters will provide you some guidance on the authentication/legalization process and you should refer to them with any questions. The process is different for each country and is stipulated by the country where you will work. Sometimes, employers are willing to pay for or reimburse the fees associated with notarization and authentication/legalization, so students should always check with employers regarding who will pay the fees.