New York State - Making It Complicated

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New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby jennabet » 14 Dec 2010, 02:25

Sent my certified birth and death documents off to Albany for apostilles. Received them back today with instructions to send them first to the Niagara County Clerk for certification and then back to Albany again. So, apparently, they have to be certified and then re-certified before they can get the apostille. What is the reason for the redundancy, other than to make it as difficult as possible to get what you need?

Must say, however, that I'm impressed with the job the US postal service is doing, especially during this busy time. At my local office, the clerks are as polite and professional as ever.

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johnnyonthespot
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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Dec 2010, 02:35

In fact, that is exactly what is happening. The city or county clerk certifies the origin and validity of the original. Then, the Secretary of State certifies that the signature of the first "certifier" is in file, that the signer is known to the state, and is duly authorized to have certified the document.

In short, the state is not certifying the document but rather the person who signed the document.
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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby jennabet » 14 Dec 2010, 02:52

Even the instructions on the website are confusing. I do remember reading something about an extra certification. I usually follow instructions pretty well but I was frustrated by all the rules and just sent them directly for apostille. Frustration with "all the rules" is one of the reasons I left the USA in the first place. Now that I'm back, I see things haven't gotten any better. Can't wait to go back to Italy. Can you imagine having good health care without having to do a lot of paperwork? Yes, it really DOES exist.

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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby rgaetano » 14 Dec 2010, 04:12

I don't understand... so when you get a "certified" document from a local or county clerk's/vital records office (ie, certified with signature, seal and stamp by county clerk), you need to get it certified again by someone else before you can have it apostilled by NYS?

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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby jennabet » 14 Dec 2010, 04:29

Yes. Apparently that's how it works in New York.

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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby sceaminmonkey » 14 Dec 2010, 05:44

yup does not make much sense but carmine is correct. you are pretty much having everything certified on a small and large scale. so your birth certificate is being certified by your county to show it is real and they know the person who certified it is real. then the state says they acknowledge that signature or letter of exemplification is legitimate and they will say that this is legitimate to.
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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Dec 2010, 11:02

rgaetano wrote:I don't understand... so when you get a "certified" document from a local or county clerk's/vital records office (ie, certified with signature, seal and stamp by county clerk), you need to get it certified again by someone else before you can have it apostilled by NYS?


Much depends on the individual state. If the document came from a town clerk's office and the clerk who signed/certified the document is not known to the state (that is, not officially recognized at the state level), then you need to get an intervening certification. So, the county clerk certifies the town clerk's signature, then the state certifies signature of the county clerk. Jennabet may simply have a document which was not properly certified by the local clerk, or was certifeid by a person who is not recognized by the state.

The apostille process is all about getting a high-level government official to say about a document, "Yes, we guarantee the authenticity of this document." Thankfully, Italy (and all other Hague Convention signatories?) is willing to consider the 50 US Secretaries of State as worthy top-level certifiers. Otherwise, you would have to take all of your documents an extra step and have them apostilled by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. :)
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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby rgaetano » 14 Dec 2010, 14:18

I see, thanks. So is there a way to check if the initial "certifier" is recognized by the state before you send them off to be apostilled? Also, how long does it usually take to apostille documents through the mail?

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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Dec 2010, 17:56

My personal experience is that most states turn documents around the same day or at worst the day after they are received. So, it's all a question of how fast the mail moves.

If you send a document to your own state, it will most likely arrive the day after you mail it and be back to you two to three days later. A week, tops.

If you live in NY and send a document to California, then you had better add many more days at each end for the mail to move cross-country, or send it priority mail and include a postage-paid priority mail return envelope. But check with the state before doing so!

If you check the state's website, they will often say what they can apostille and what they cannot. As a random example, Michigan's site says:

Only certified copies of birth, marriage, divorce and death records by a Michigan County Clerk; City Clerk or Registrar in the counties of Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb only; or the Michigan State Registrar are eligible for authentication. Original vital records cannot be accepted for this purpose.

http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-12 ... --,00.html
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Re: New York State - Making It Complicated

Postby KarenChristino » 14 Dec 2010, 22:35

I think Carmine's made it pretty clear, but just to summarize and outline the steps: We need to get documents which are acceptable on an international level.

You #1, get an original signature from your local whoever-that-is who has your documents. So for example, NYC Municipal Archives gives you a photocopy of an old birth record. That has a raised seal (Certification), but that's not enough. You need to get a Letter of Exemplification also from them for which you'll pay a little more, which states that yes, in fact this is a record from their collection and the L of E probably has an original signature.

#2, we get approval on the County level. You go to the County Clerk who Authenticates the document's original signature (kind of like having something notarized), and gives you approval. For my document from Brooklyn, they appended a little note saying that the signatory is legitimate, along with a seal and the County Clerk's signature (in this case a stamp that the Clerks are empowered to use.

#3, we get the Apostille, which kind of reiterates the above, saying that the document is approved for international use by those who participate in the Hague Convention.

As I understand it, for documents directly from state archives (for those born outside NYC in NYS for example), you only need the Apostille, since they will recognize the state signature/authority.


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