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We Serve:
Santa Monica
West LA
Marina del Rey
Beverly Hills
Century City
Bel Air
Pacific Palisades
Culver City
West Hollywood
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We are Mobile Notary Servicing Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Century City, Beverly Hills, and surrounding areas.

When dealing with legal documents, you may come across the terms “apostille” and “notary.” Although they both play crucial roles in verifying the authenticity of documents, their purposes and processes are distinct. This article aims to provide an in-depth comparison between apostille vs. notary to help you understand their key differences and determine which service you may need.

What is a Notary?

A notary public, commonly referred to as a notary, is an official appointed by the government to serve as an impartial witness in the signing of important documents. The primary role of a notary is to prevent fraud and ensure that the signers of a document are who they claim to be and are signing willingly.

Key Functions of a Notary:

  • Verification of Identity: The notary verifies the identity of the signers through government-issued identification.
  • Witnessing Signatures: The notary witnesses the signing of the document to ensure that it is done willingly and knowingly.
  • Administering Oaths: Notaries can administer oaths and affirmations.
  • Certifying Copies: Notaries can certify that copies of documents are true copies of the original.
Notarial services are commonly used for various documents, including affidavits, powers of attorney, wills, and real estate transactions.

What is an Apostille?

An apostille is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. The purpose of an apostille is to certify the authenticity of the origin of the document, making it valid for legal use internationally.

Key Functions of an Apostille:

  • Certification of Authenticity: An apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document acted, and the identity of any stamp or seal affixed to the document.
  • International Recognition: Apostilles are recognized by all member countries of the Hague Convention, which simplifies the process of using documents abroad.
Documents commonly requiring an apostille include birth certificates, marriage licenses, educational degrees, and corporate documents.

Apostille Vs. Notary: Key Differences

While both apostilles and notarizations serve to authenticate documents, they do so in different ways and for different purposes.

Scope of Use:

  • Notary: Used for domestic documents to verify the identity and willingness of the signer.
  • Apostille: Used for documents that need to be recognized in foreign countries, certifying their authenticity internationally.

Legal Authority:

  • Notary: Appointed by state or local government authorities.
  • Apostille: Issued by designated competent authorities, typically the Secretary of State’s office or equivalent in the issuing country.


  • Notary: Prevents fraud in the execution of important documents.
  • Apostille: Facilitates the acceptance of documents in other countries by certifying their authenticity.


  • Notary: Involves personal appearance before a notary, identity verification, and signing of documents.
  • Apostille: Involves submitting the document to the designated authority, which verifies the document’s origin and issues the apostille certificate.

When Do You Need a Notary?

You need a notary when dealing with documents that require verification of the signer’s identity and willingness, such as:
  • Legal affidavits
  • Property deeds
  • Loan documents
  • Wills and trusts

When Do You Need an Apostille?

You need an apostille when you need to use a document in a foreign country that is a member of the Hague Convention. Common scenarios include:
  • Studying abroad
  • Employment in a foreign country
  • International marriage
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Licenses
  • Business transactions with foreign entities

Comparing The Process of Obtaining a Notary vs. Apostille

Notary Process:

  1. Preparation: Bring the document and required identification to the notary.
  2. Verification: The notary verifies the identity of the signers.
  3. Signing: The document is signed in the presence of the notary.
  4. Notarization: The notary affixes their seal and signature.

Apostille Process:

  1. Notarization: If required, the document is first notarized.
  2. Submission: Submit the notarized document to the designated authority.
  3. Verification: The authority verifies the document’s authenticity.
  4. Issuance: The apostille certificate is issued and attached to the document.

Choosing the Right Service

Determining whether you need a notary or an apostille depends on the purpose and destination of your document. For domestic use, a notary will suffice. For international use, particularly in Hague Convention countries, an apostille is necessary.

VIP Notary Services: Your Trusted Mobile Notary and Apostille Provider in Southern California

At VIP Notary Services, we understand the importance of both notary and apostille services. Our traveling mobile notary offers reliable and affordable services throughout Southern California. Whether you need a document notarized or require an apostille for international use, we are here to assist you. Our experienced team ensures that your documents are handled with the utmost care and professionalism. We provide convenient and flexible service, coming to your location to meet your needs. For more information on the areas we serve, visit our locations page.

Contact VIP Notary Services Today

Understanding the differences between apostille vs. notary is crucial when dealing with legal documents. While notaries serve to verify the identity and intent of signers domestically, apostilles certify the authenticity of documents for international use. Whether you need a notary or an apostille, VIP Notary Services is your trusted partner in Southern California, providing efficient and reliable service to meet all your document authentication needs.

By knowing when and where to seek these services, you can ensure your documents are properly authenticated and legally recognized, both at home and abroad. Contact us today to discuss your needs.


The primary difference is their scope of use. A notary verifies the identity and willingness of the signers for domestic documents, while an apostille certifies the authenticity of documents for international use in Hague Convention countries.
If your document will be used domestically, you likely need a notary. If your document is for use in a foreign country that is a member of the Hague Convention, you will need an apostille.
Yes, often a document needs to be notarized first before it can be apostilled. The notarization verifies the signer’s identity and willingness, and the apostille certifies the authenticity of the notarization for international recognition.
Getting a document notarized typically takes a few minutes to an hour, depending on the availability of the notary. Obtaining an apostille can take several days to weeks, depending on the processing times of the designated authority.