Apostilles and Document Legalization

An apostille is the equivalent of an international notarial seal. Any document which bears an apostille is legally valid for use in all countries party to the Hague Convention of 1961 on the legalization of documents. This includes both the United States and Russia.

To obtain an apostille on documents notarized in the United States (including civil records), you must apply to the Secretary of State in the state in which the document was notarized. The Secretary of State’s office will verify the notary public’s or other notarizing official’s signature by placing an apostille on the document.

If you need an Apostille on Russian civil documents, go to the ZAGS office at 10 Griboyedova St. (near metro Chistiye Prudy) in Moscow or the local ZAGS offices in other cities. If you need an Apostille on Russian educational documents, go to the Glavexperttsentr of the Ministry of Education at 33 Shabolovka St., tel. 495-952-0940 of Rosobrnadzor . To obtain an Apostille on court-issued documents as well as documents notarized by Moscow notaries bring them to the branch of the Ministry of Justice at 13 Krzhizhanovskogo St., Bldg. 1.  Justice Administration Offices in other areas of Russia will authenticate the paperwork notarized in those regions and issued by local courts.  Some Russian notaries public offer a combined service of notarization and getting the Justice Ministry’s Apostille stamp on documents.  Russian Regional State Archives are also authorized to Apostille documents which they have issued.  The Prosecutor’s General Office can place Apostilles on paperwork produced by lower level prosecutor’s offices.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow cannot place an apostille on documents issued or notarized in the United States. Various Russian officials sometimes erroneously advise people to go to the American Embassy to get an official Embassy “stamp” on documents for use in Russia. The Embassy is not empowered under U.S., Russian, or international law to perform this function. Therefore, the Embassy cannot legally accommodate such requests. To legalize U.S. documents for use in Russia, you should follow the instructions given above for obtaining an apostille. Russian documents which must be notarized for use in Russia should be executed before Russian notaries public.

Please see the Department of State’s webpage on Judicial Assistance for further information on apostilles, document legalization, and the international treaties governing vital records.