I bet this question has been asked many times. I sure can't find the answer anywhere though. I am trying to find out how many original birth certificates, and marriage certificates I need to order. My husband and I were both born in states different from where we now reside. Do I need to order the birth certs., certified and apostilled, or just certified ? Do I order from the Vital Statistics web site ? I have rec'd 3 original marriage certificates. Do I now need to send them to the secretary of state, in the state they originated, to get apostilled ? Is apostilling the same this as authentication of documents ?
I understand that the entire dossier will be sent to the China Consulate in Houston. Is that where the documents get apostilled, or do I need to do that when ordering the documents ?
I have just sent in my application to my agency, and started my homestudy,and also sent our form, for I-600A. I just want to get the necessary certificates ordered now, if I am going to need to do that. Thank you so much in advance. I am as confused as I can be !
We needed 4 birth certificates each (agency application, homestudy, passport, and dossier). These need to be certified copies with pen-in-hand signature. The pen-in-hand signature may or may not be available online. With dh's Georgia birth certificate, we were able to select this as an option online. With mine (Louisiana), we had to go through Vital Records to get the pen-in-hand signature.
We needed 2 certified copies of our marriage certificate (homestudy and dossier) and one photocopy (agency application).
The only copies that have to be authenticated are the ones for the dossier. This is done through the Secretary of State's office in the state that issued the certificate. That is not done when you order the certificate, but later. You will have to send them to the appropriate SOS offices.
Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think there is some slight difference in authentication and an apostille. Hague Treaty countries require the apostille, while non-treaty countries (like China) require authentication. When we sent our documents for authentication, we were asked to specify to what country they were being sent. I feel like this was to make certain that our documents were authenticated according to the correct procedure.
You should only need two. There's no reason for your agency to keep a certied copy of your birth certificates. They should only need a copy and if they need a certified one they certainly shouldn't keep it. One goes with your dossier and if you need one for a passport. Out agency certainly didn't ask for certified copies for either the home study or the application.
I am sorry if I just don't get it. Are you saying that the birth certificates I request from vital statistics need to be certified , or certified and authenticated ? Is that what you mean by,"pen in hand ?"
Thank you, so much everyone. Sorry I am stumped on this part.
Check with your agency about the copy for your homestudy, as to whether it needs to be certified or if a photocopy is okay or if you even need it at all. This obviously varies from agency to agency.
Order certified copies from Vital Records. They do not do authentication at Vital Records. Authentication is done by the Secretary of State's office. You will do this later in the process.
Pen-in-hand signature means that the person who issued the certificate actually signs it. It does not have a stamped signature. (Louisiana, for example, has a form of certified birth certificate with a stamped-on signature. That is not what you want.)
One more thing--Go through the state Vital Records office, not the local health department, for your certified birth certificate. Georgia would not authenticate a birth certificate issued through a county health department, even though it was a certified one.
An easy way to order birth certificates for any state is on
I checked the cost with getting them directly from my state and it was the same price and the same document.
Do NOT get documents apostilled. The apostille is for certain other countries. Always let people know that you are adopting from China, so that the right seal is affixed.
Just a note--Be careful when you order birth certificates online that you are getting the right thing. My birth certificate is in Louisiana. The certified certificates that you get when ordering online do not have a pen-in-hand signature. I had to send them directly to state Vital Records and have them exchanged. For my dh (Georgia), there was a pen-in-hand signature option to select online.
Your agency should be able to walk you through the document process step by step once your application is processed. Most China agencies have step-by-step guides.
Do NOT get any China document apostilled!!! They get authenticated, which is different!
For the absolute right answers on everything, though, I'd check with your agency.
Almost DTC!!
Thanks so much. I know once my application is processed, my agency will help me though. I am just wanting my little girl now alreadyyyy!
I better get used to this "hurry up and wait ," process right now, huh ?
Now these days, people are struggling to get their certificates to stand in a long queue. Now the problem has solved. If you are looking for an original birth or marriage certificate, the appropriate solution is to contact Vital Records Online. Where one can collect certificates after submitting the basic details.
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