Apostille Frequently Asked Questions

What are apostilles and why are they needed?

Businesses and individuals at times need to authenticate the origin of a public document in a country other than the one in which the document was issued. Some examples of such public documents are: birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage licenses, corporate documents, school transcript records and trademarks. One way to accomplish this is to obtain an apostille, a certificate that is recognized and required by countries that are parties to a treaty called the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961. It is commonly called the Hague Convention.

Who can issue apostilles and authentications?

Certain federal and state officials have the authority to issue apostilles and authentications. At the state level, a state agency that is given this authority must be recognized by The Hague as a Competent Authority. DFI is recognized by The Hague as a Competent Authority to issue Apostille certificates to countries that are approved members of the Hague Convention. Authentications are issued for countries that are not members of the Hague. Authentications for Wisconsin must be done by the Office of the Secretary of State of Wisconsin.

When did DFI begin issuing apostilles?

January 4, 2016

How long will it take DFI to issue an apostille?

Regular service will take up to 7 business days. Expedited service will be 2 business days or less.

Why is DFI taking on this duty of issuing apostilles?

DFI already has an established business relationship with hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, many of whom could have a need for apostilles. For example, DFI is the filing office for more than 400,000 business entities, 130,000 securities professionals, 82,000 notaries public, and 25,000 trademarks and tradenames. Giving these stakeholders the option of obtaining an apostille from a state agency with whom they already do business is efficient, effective government.

How can I find out more about apostilles?

Here is a link to “The ABCs of Apostilles​” published by the Hague.

How do I ensure my document was notarized properly?

A notarization statement must contain

  • Jurisdiction where the act took place
  • Notarial Statement- What is being notarized (i.e. a signature, a true copy of an original, or an oath (See Notary Sample Statements))
  • Date the document was notarized
  • Notary's signature
  • Notary's seal/stamp
  • Notary's expiration date
To process efficiently we recommend that notarizations be in English but can also be repeated in a different language. Remember notaries that are not attorneys may not use the words “notario," “notarizaciones," “notarizamos," or “notario publico," on their statements pursuant to Wis. Stat. 140.02(1)(i)4.

What are some types of documents that the Department of Financial Institutions does not process?

Please note this is not a comprehensive list. Other exceptions may exist.

  • Federal documents (including The Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks) these must be authenticated by the Federal Office of Authentications
  • Documents issued by a Federal Court
  • Vital records not issued by the state of Wisconsin (births, deaths, marriages, etc. in other states or abroad. These must be authenticated by the Issuing state/country
  • Military notaries - These must be authenticated by the Federal Office of Authentications
  • Federal officials
  • Citizenship certificates
  • Consulate officials

Contact Us

Phone: (608) 266-8915
Email: DFIApostille@dfi.wisconsin.gov
Mailing Address:
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
PO Box 7838
Madison, WI 53707-7838
Physical Address:
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
Division of Corporate and Consumer Services
4822 Madison Yards Way, North Tower
Madison, WI 53705