Legal Documents for Personal Use
Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates require special handling. These original documents are issued by the state and require a state seal. (Bureau of Vital Records). In order to authenticate these documents from the U.S. Department of State, it is essential to first have them certified from the secretary of state where they were originally issued (Florida, California, etc).
If the document is to be used in a country signatory of The Hague Convention the same state that originated them can stamp the apostille. On the other hand, if it is to be used in countries non signatory of The Hague Convention the process must be continued in Washington, D.C. with the authentication by the U.S. Department of State and finally the legalization by the foreign consulate. Please note the following: