Frequently Asked Questions


What is an apostille?

In the United States, France, and sixty-seven other countries that are signatory to the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), often referred to as the Hague Convention, legalization is accomplished by apostillation.
The apostille is a certificate that attests to the authenticity of a signature on a document and the authority of the document’s signer, and, if applicable, the verification of the seal or stamp affixed to the document. The authorities in charge of issuing the apostille are designated by each HCCH member country.
In New York the Secretary of State issues the apostille for official New York documents. We can handle the process for you for a reasonable fee. If you choose to do it yourself see: How to get an apostille?

What is a sworn translation?

A sworn translation (traduction assermentée) is done by a sworn translator. In France, the title of sworn translator is protected by law and can be used only by translators registered on a list drawn up by the Cour de cassation or a Cour d’appel. Sworn translators do not exist in the United States.

What documents required a certified translation?

Vital records (birth, marriage and death certificates), judicial acts (judgments), affidavits, written declarations and documents registered or deposited in legal courts, administrative documents (criminal records, diplomas, grade transcripts, driver licenses), documents from French notaires such as powers of attorney, sales agreements, patents and many other documents require a certified translation.

What is a certified translation?

In the US, a certified translation is a translation which is followed by a statement of completeness and accuracy (called an affidavit of accuracy or Translator's Certification) signed by the translator along with his or her contact information.

See Under the instructions from the USCIS

The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.
The certification format should include the certifier's name, signature, address, and date of certification. A suggested format is:

Certification by Translator

I [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and ________ languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled ______________________________.

Signature_________________________________ Date Typed Name


If requested, it can be signed before a notary public. The notary seal assures that the signature is that of the person whose name is listed as the translator and who has appeared before the notary. The notary public does not vouch for the accuracy of the translation but instead serves only to prove that the translator is the person who signed the document.

What is the legalization of a signature?

Our signature on a translation can be legalized by the French Consulate. The Consulate, in view of our stamp and signature, will affix its stamps and the signature of the delegated consular official on the translation.

What is the legalization of a document?

This is the process of authentication of public documents issued in one country for use in another country when the countries are not parties to The Hague convention (see Apostille).

The document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated, and then by the foreign ministry of the government of the state where the document will be used (one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate).

In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country. The Hague Convention abolishes the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents for its signatories.

What is a French notaire?

A notaire is a public officer whose role is to receives and drafts legal instruments, contracts, and other important documents to give them the official weight that is often required by the receiving party.

He/She intervene in real estate transactions, wills and many other matters. They have very little in common with the U.S. notary.

What is a notary public?

The notary public in the U.S. has a more limited role than the French notaire. She/he may administer oaths and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate documents, and perform certain other acts, varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Most banks, county offices, insurance companies, and credit unions have a notary public on staff.

Our clients occasionally ask us to have our signature on a translation notarized. Although it usually is not legally required, we can provide this service.

Will my document need to be notarized?

That will depend on the type of document and the party and location of the person to whom the document will be presented. If a notarization is required, it is usually specified by the requesting party.

We notarize all our translations into English. We notarize translations into other languages when an Apostille for the translation is needed.

What is an exequatur?

Under the principle of comity, a court of one country or jurisdiction will give effect to laws and judicial decisions of another country or jurisdiction, not as a matter of obligation but out of "courtesy", i.e. deference and mutual respect.

Under the principle of comity, a divorce obtained in another country under the circumstances described above receives "full faith and credit" in all other states and countries that recognize divorce.

However, if one of the spouses contests the effects of the judgment in France, or wants to execute this judgment in France against the other spouse (alimony, seizures of goods or money, visits and lodging of the children), the court may decide to enter an order, called an exequatur, to enforce the foreign judgment.

What is a letter of exemplification?

A page, attached to a New York City long form birth certificate or death certificate, hand-signed by a deputy city registrar and attesting that the attached birth certificate or death certificate is a true copy of the actual record. A requirement for an Apostille.

What is a certificat de coutume?

Memorandum on the applicable foreign law, drawn up on behalf of the party by a person familiar with such a law, usually an attorney.

Such a certificate may be required by a French mairie (City Hall), a French notaire or a bank for the purpose of estate settlement. It is created based on the attorney's examination of the individual's documentation (divorce decree, death certificate of spouse, etc.,) and verification and citation of the applicable marriage laws of the United States. In English “affidavit of law” and more rarely “foreign legal opinion”.

What is an acte de notoriété?

When an estate is involved, it is similar to an “affidavit of heirship” or “affidavit of next of kin”, i.e. a statement which sets forth the names of all of the decedent’s next of kin and their relationship to him or her.

What is a certificat de célibat?

Sworn statement which affirms that the person named is not already legally married and is free to marry under the laws of the country that requires the affidavit.
Also called “affidavit of marital status”, “certificate of celibacy”, “certificate of non-impediment” and “certificate of freedom to marry.” Needs to be signed before a notary public.

What is a secure transaction?

Data sent between browsers and web servers are usually sent in plain text leaving the communicating parties vulnerable to eavesdropping and hacking.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client—typically a web server (website) and a browser; or a mail server and a mail client

SSL allows sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and login credentials to be transmitted securely. Our website has a SSL certificate.

What is a Certificate of Non-Appeal?


When one party in a U.S.-granted divorce is a French citizen, the divorce must be registered and officially recognized in France as well. 

The Consulate General of France may not register a second marriage until the divorce has been registered and mentioned in the margin of the birth and marriage certificate of the concerned party.
To do so, the parties must obtain a certified translation of the divorce and a translation of the Certificate of Non Appeal also called Certificate of Divorce Absolute or Search Certificate.

The Certificate of Non Appeal stipulates that the divorce is irrevocable and that the time for filing notice of appeal has expired.


How to get a copy of your birth certificate?

How to get a copy of a death certificate?

How to get a copy of your marriage certificate?

How to get a certificate of non-appeal?

How to get an apostille for Diplomas and Other Education Documents?