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Certifications and Authentication

There are several types of certifications processed in the Office of the Secretary of State. We certify the incumbency of persons the Governor appoints to various Commissions and Cabinet positions; elected officials; and portions of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Some documents (birth/death, marriage/divorce, police records, corporate good-standing certificates) submitted to this office are being used internationally for adoptions, dual citizenship, doing business, transferring school records, etc.

Whether or not a country will accept the apostille form of certification, depends on whether that country signed the Hague Treaty. The Hague Treaty is an international treaty agreeing to accept the signature of the Secretary of State of each state, without having it certified by the U.S. Secretary of State. Countries which signed the Hague Treaty accept the Apostille form of certification and for those which did not, the standard form is used. For a more complete explanation of the Hague Convention, visit the site of the U.S. State Department.

Statutory Authority: State Government Article, §7-106 and by virtue of the Secretary's being a member of the Board of State Canvassers.

Cover letter to use when sending documents to the Office of the Secretary of State

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I have documents certified?

 

Certifications may be completed by mail or in person. The cost is $2 per document. Please pay by U.S. check or U.S. money order made out to the Secretary of State, if paying by mail. You can also use a credit or debit card if you appear in person at the office. If you are having certifications done by mail, be certain to include:

  • your check or money order
  • a note stating in which country the documents will be used, and how to contact you if a small question should arise concerning your documents.
  • a stamped, self-addressed envelope or prepaid express delivery service, such as: Fedex or UPS

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Which countries require apostilles and which require a standard certification?

 

Countries which signed the Hague Treaty require apostilles. All others require standard certifications, will need to be authenticated by the US State Department before being taken to the country's embassy.  The U.S. State Department maintains a current list of those requiring apostilles.

What are the steps in the certification process?

 

Standard Certification

When Having a Notarized Document Certified
Notarized document must be taken to the Clerk of the Circuit Court for certification, in the county where the notary was commissioned. (The county will be imprinted on the notary's seal.) If your document is certified by a clerk of the Circuit Court other than the current clerk of the Circuit Court, please call our office at 410-974-5521 to confirm that we can authenticate the document. The document is then taken to the Office of the Secretary of State, in Annapolis for certification.
Document is taken to the State Department in Washington, DC for certification. Document is ready for use.

When having a State or County Issued Document Certified

The State/County document, (birth or death certificate, motor vehicle ownership certification, certification of status of criminal records, marriage certificates, divorce decree, etc.) with the seal and authorized signature of the department issuing the document, is taken to the Office of the Secretary of State, in Annapolis for certification. If you do not have a current copy, please call our office at 410-974-5521 to confirm that we can authenticate your document.
Document is taken to the State Department in Washington DC for certification. Document is ready for use.

Apostille

When Having a Notarized Documenet Certified
Notarized document must be taken to the Clerk of the Circuit Court for certification, in the county where the notary was commissioned. (The county will be imprinted on the notary's seal.) If your document is certified by a clerk of the Circuit Court other than the current clerk of the Circuit Court, please call our office at 410-974-5521 to confirm that we can authenticate the document. The document is taken to the Office of the Secretary of State, in Annapolis for certification.
Document is ready for use. The document does not need to be taken to the U.S. State Department for certification

When having a State or County issued Document Certified
The State/County document, (birth or death certificate, motor vehicle ownership certification, certification of status of criminal records, marriage certificates, divorce decree, etc.) with the seal and authorized signature of the department issuing the document, is taken to the Office of the Secretary of State, in Annapolis for certification. If you do not have a current copy, please call our office at 410-974-5521 to confirm that we can authenticate your document.
The document is ready for use. The document does not need to be taken to the U.S. State Department for certification

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What must I do to have my school records certified?

 

To have any of your school records, transcripts, grades, or diplomas certified by the Maryland Secretary Of State you will need to follow the same procedures as any other non-state documents. Contact the school to get the needed documents. Often they will send them to you in a sealed envelope stating not to open the envelope. You will take the sealed envelope to a notary. The notary will open the envelope and notarize the school record. You will then take that document to the circuit court where the notary is commissioned and have it certified by The Clerk of the Court that the notary is in good standing. The record is now ready to be authenticated by The Secretary of States' Office.

What are the addresses of the Office of the Secretary of State and the US Department of State?

 

Office of the Secretary of State

Walk in address:
16 Francis Street, Wineland Building, Annapolis, MD 21401

Mailing Address:
16 Francis Street, Annapolis, MD 21401

Hours:
8:30 - 12:00 and 12:30 - 4:00 (the office is closed for lunch 12:00 - 12:30)
(including some State holidays - see below)

Telephone:
(410) 974-5521

Email: Craig.Jackson@Maryland.gov

U.S. State Department

Address:
600 19th Street NW Washington DC 20006

Telephone:
(202) 485-8000 between 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM

Hours:
Walk in: Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

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How do I get to the Office of the Secretary of State?

 
  • From Route 50 take exit 24 (Rowe Boulevard) to downtown Annapolis
  • At the light, keep straight onto Northwest Street (do not continue right onto Calvert Street)
  • Northwest Street ends at Church Circle.
  • Go around Church Circle about 1/4 of the way to Duke of Gloucester Street and turn right.
  • From Duke of Gloucester Street turn left onto Green Street
  • From Green Street turn left onto Main Street
  • From Main Street, bear right onto Francis Street
 

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Where in Annapolis can I park?

 
  • There are parking meters on Francis Street
  • There is free parking on State Circle beyond Francis Street
  • The Noah Hillman Parking Garage has entrances off of Duke of Gloucester Street (turn left into garage) and off of Main Street (turn left onto Gorman Street)

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Are there other types of certifications?

 

Other certifications are used for State bond sales. These certifications are to the membership of various Authorities or Commissions. Also used in State bond sales are certification of manual signature filings. We certify that a person has his/her manual signature on file so that he/she can use a facsimile signature at the bond closing. We also provide referendum/no referendum (for House/Senate Bills) certificates as requested.

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