We noticed a big announcement on the California Secretary of State’s website that took affect on February 1, 2012: That the Los Angeles regional office of the Secretary of State can now authenticate notaries’ signatures. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, as previously when you needed a California apostille for many foreign-bound public documents, you had to travel to the County Clerk where the notary that notarized your document was commissioned (which is indicated on the notary’s stamp).
For Los Angeles residents and businesses, that meant traveling to Norwalk, CA to the Los Angeles County Clerk to get an LA notary’s signature authenticated or your local county clerk in the county where the notary is commissioned (unless ordering by the more time-consuming mail or online method). Norwalk is about 17 miles away from the Secretary of State’s office in downtown Los Angeles, the last step in the apostille process.
Now the notary authentication (of the notary’s signature on notarized documents) and the apostille processing can all be done at the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Secretary of State…with one exception: If the receiving authority still wants the County Clerk to be the official authenticating the notary’s signature. Then you would still need to go there before it is processed at the Secretary of State. It makes no sense why the receiving authority would still require that a county clerk authenticate the notary’s signature when the Secretary of State is a higher level of authentication…but that’s the often illogical world of dealing with authenticating documents.
If the receiving authority is fine with the Secretary of State authenticating the notary’s signature, then this has the potential to save an enormous amount of time and money for apostille customers and companies. Previously, the main Sacramento Secretary of State office was the only office to authenticate all notary signatures in one location.
People still definitely need to make a trip to Norwalk county clerk or another CA county clerk (unless obtaining by mail or online) when getting a CA birth certificate, marriage or death certificate apostilled, as a “certified” birth, marriage or death certificate has to first be obtained there. People who receive their certified certificates from the County Clerk and don’t have time to go to the Secretary of State as well can contact California Apostille Agents to handle that part of the process for them (at 213-999-4176).
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