What the heck is an apostille, you may be asking, and I assure you, I felt the same way before I started this whole dual citizenship process. Well, here is my answer: it is an official way of verifying that American documents are the real thing!!! Birth, marriage, death certificates as well as other “official” documents require an apostille to authenticate them and the signatures that are on them. Local documents, such as those issued by the counties, cities, and states are “apostilled” by the particular state that the documents are from. So, in my case, all of my documents had to be “apostilled” by the California Dept. of State. Now, this is different that the State Department – that is a federal office (the one that Hilary belongs to). This can get very confusing when you are speaking to the Consulate office and asking for help – you need to be really careful that you are meaning the correct one! I speak from experience 🙂
Anyway, apostilles are needed when applying for Italian citizenship – you need them on birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and in the case of Citizenship by Marriage, on police record reports issued by the Dept. of Justice.
The process of obtaining an apostille is really very simple once you have the correct documents. The documents must be originals with the signature and the stamp of the issuing office. These documents can be obtained from the County or City Records department for a fee. If you are obtaining the Police record report, you must submit fingerprints to the Dept. of Justice and then request that the report include the stamp and signature of the State official (currently Kamala Harris). Once you have the correct documents, you can mail them to the California Secretary of State….or you can just take a drive to Sacramento and present them yourself! This was the path I took…and it was painless! The process took about 20 minutes total! They take your document (and a $26/document fee) and staple a pretty official looking paper to it which contains a beautiful gold seal of the Golden State! Voila! This part of the paper gathering trail is all done and really very simple to do!