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Authentications Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  How may I pay for Authentications?
Answer:   ONCA accepts checks, money orders, VISA and Master Card. ONCA does not accept cash for any transaction. Checks or money orders must be in US dollars and drawn on a US Bank or from US Financial Institution. We cannot accept funds drawn on a foreign bank. Money orders from American Express or Western Union may be accepted.

Question:  What is the cost?
Answer:  The cost is $15 per document.

Question:  May I submit my document by mail and/or in person?
Answer:  Yes. Both Notary applications and authentications may be submitted by mail or in person. Authentication requests must include a cover letter with the specific request, the country the authentication is for and a pre-paid self-addressed return envelope. They should also include contact information in the event there are questions. The authentication requests should be sent to:

Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications
441 4th Street, NW
Suite 810 South
Washington, DC 20001
Requests are usually processed within two business days.

Question:  What type of documents will ONCA authenticate?
Answer:  ONCA authenticates documents notarized by a District of Columbia notary or those certified by a Department Head (ex: Birth or Marriage Certificates). Department Head Certificates must be from the District of Columbia. ONCA may authenticate copies of some foreign documents such as birth or marriage certificates if they have been notarized by a DC notary.

Question:  Are there any documents that ONCA cannot authenticate?
Answer:  Yes. ONCA cannot authenticate federal documents (examples, FBI documents, original passports) or any that have not been notarized by a DC notary public.

Question: Once my document is authenticated, are there any other steps I need to take?
Answer:  If your country is a part of the Hague Convention and we have put an Apostille on it then the process is completed. If the country is not part of the Hague Convention, you will need to send the document to the US Authentications Office. Find more information on the US Authentications Office website.

Question:  Do I have to be present to have a document authenticated?
Answer:  No. ONCA is only authenticating that the notary public is valid. The office is not authenticating the actual document so anyone may bring the document to the office or the document may be mailed to the office along with the proper amount of money and a pre-paid self-addressed return envelope.

Question: What does an authentication mean?
Answer:  When ONCA authenticates – puts an Apostille or Foreign Certificate on a document it is only validating that the notary public or department head is in fact a legitimate notary or department head or representative of the Superior Court in the District of Columbia.  We are not authenticating, confirming or authenticating the document itself.  For example, we do not determine the status or legitimacy of a school, college, university, financial institution or any other record; the country to which the document is presented retains the right to accept or deny the actual information.

Question:  Does ONCA notarize documents?
Answer:    No.