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Authentications Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What does an authentication mean?
Answer: When ONCA authenticates ‘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: What is the difference between an Apostille and a Foreign Certificate?
Answer: An Apostille is a type of authentication; it is the type used for those countries that are a part of the Hague Convention.  Authentications issued for other countries are issued Foreign Certificates.  Some authentications for any country may be “Department Head” certificates if they are those signed by Department or Agency heads of the District of Columbia.       

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 certificates, DC Public School Diplomas, MPD [DC] FL-20 clearances). Department Head Certificates must be from the District of Columbia.  ONCA may authenticate copies of some foreign documents such as birth or marriage certificates and copies of a passport if they have been notarized by a DC notary.  We cannot authenticate a Birth Abroad certificate; if a US individual was born in another country.

Question: Are there any documents that ONCA cannot authenticate?
Answer: Yes. ONCA cannot authenticate most federal documents (examples, FBI fingerprints and 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. Since ONCA is only authenticating that the notary public is valid, not authenticating the actual document anyone may bring the document to the office or the document may be mailed to the office along with the proper amount of money, a pre-paid self-addressed return envelope and the form on the website telling us the country for which the document is needed and your contact information.

Question: May I submit my document by mail and/or in person?
Answer: Yes, authentications may be submitted by mail or in person. Walk-in hours are from 9AM-1PM, Monday-Friday.  No appointment is needed and it usually takes about 20 minutes.  You may pay by check, money order, American Express, Discover, Master Card or VISA.For mail-in requests, please complete and print this form. Be sure to include the self-addressed pre-paid return envelope or your request will not be processed.  We generally process mail-in requests in 2-3 business days, but the amount of time it will take for you to receive them will depend upon the type of service and carrier you choose.  We have regular pick up from the US Postal Service and FedEx; if you select another carrier you may have to schedule a time and pay for pick-up.   Mail-in requests may only be paid by check or money order payable to “DC Treasurer” from a US Financial Institution in US Dollars.

Office of Notary Commissions and Authentications
441 4th Street, NW
Suite 810 South
Washington, DC 20001
Requests are usually processed in 2-3 business days.

Question: How may I pay for Authentications?
Answer: ONCA accepts checks, money orders, VISA, Master Card, Discover and American Express for walk-in customers; we only accept checks or money orders for mail in requests. 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.  If you do not have easy access to a US Bank, you might try Western Union, American Express or a similar institution.

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

Question: Does ONCA notarize documents?
Answer: No.

Contact Information

441 4th Street, NW
Suite 810 South
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-3117
Fax: (202) 727-8457
[email protected]

Hours of Operation

Office Hours:

Monday to Friday 8:15AM-4:45PM

WALK-IN Hours: 9AM-1PM