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Q3.10 How to authenticate a signature?


This article is from the Italy FAQ, by Gianluigi Sartori gg@angel.stanford.edu, Paolo Fiorini fiorini@telerobotics.jpl.nasa.gov with numerous contributions by others.

Q3.10 How to authenticate a signature?

Last modified: August 15 1994

Italian governmental agencies often require that signatures on
official documents be authenticated. The problem is how to do it
when you are abroad. The standard way to do this is to go, in
person, to an Italian consular office, but this is often
impractical. Here we describe an alternative way. NB: what
follows holds true for the USA (as tested by the author), but
might also apply to other foreign (even extra-European)
countries, as long as they subscribe to the same convention. (Of
course, in this case the specific offices involved may not be
the same). This is left to be verified in individual cases (call
an Italian consulate or embassy).

What you will need is a document called (in English)
"APOSTILLE". The authentication itself is done by a "notary
public". In the U.S. (unlike Italy), many people are notaries:
to begin with, ask a secretary in the department, at work, etc.
This person will have to sign and put a stamp to a statement *in
Italian*, so it's better if s/he knows you already (if s/he
doesn't speak Italian). Follow these steps:

At the bottom of the document to be authenticated, write the
certification formula: "Avendo il richiedente rinunziato con il
mio consenso .... io Jane Doe, notary public etc...". For the
complete statement, please ASK A CONSULAR OFFICE by phone [see
list of Italian consulate at Q3.1]. Given the importance of legal
details you should find out the proper wording. At any rate,
you'll just type this stuff below your own signature.

Take it to the notary public, who signs it and stamps it.

Take the whole document, complete with notary's statement and
signature, to the County office which keeps record of the
certified notaries (in general, it's in the County courthouse).
They will give you proof that your notary is actually recognized
by the County. (There is usually a small fee to pay).

Take the whole thing to the Office of the Secretary of State of
your state. This is obviously in the state capital. If you are
not in the capital of the state, I believe you can send it by
mail (including payment for another small fee): first, check by
phone. They will finally add a sheet to your document, the
apostille, which conforms to international conventions.

Done. The author of this FAQ entry has used this procedure many
times and has received no complaint from any Italian office. By
the way, if you live in the state capital, you'll find that the
whole procedure may actually be quicker than it would be in a
large Italian city (not hard to believe). Please note that
different states and counties in the U.S. may have slightly
different requirements: it's always good to check in advance.
(However, the apostille itself is a document of international

In Virginia you can have a notary public sign and stamp your
document. Then you can send it together with a check for $10 to:
Commonwealth of Virginia
Russell E.Booker, Jr.
State Registrar
P.O. Box 1000 Richmond VA 23308
phone: (804) 786-6228
This office should take care of passing the document to
the Office of the Secretary of State. Then it will be returned
to you. Explain everything in a letter.
The office of the Secretary of State also has a phone number:
(804) 786-2441


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