Apostille or not, that is the question.

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Apostille or not, that is the question.


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Old 16th January 2020, 06:39 PM
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Default Apostille or not, that is the question.

This is regarding a birth certificate for a CPAM filing.

Specifically, I have a certified original copy of a birth certificate issued by the California Department of State. It is properly stamped and signed.

The purpose of having a document apostilled is to have an entity (usually governmental) recognized by the intended recipient of a document validate a document as genuine. In this case, France recognizes the State of California and accepts its validation.

So, in this case, one arm of the California Department of State would validate a document created by another arm of the same department as valid. As France already recognizes the State of California, it seems sort off superfluous to apostle an already official document.

But, this is France anyone's mileage may vary considerably.

So, has anyone here had specific experience with this situation? (And yes, I know your past experiences may not well foretell those I might have in the same situation).

Bonus points. When submitting an officially validated birth certificate in a major city in France, was a certified translation required?

I should probably just do everything, but that will add weeks, if not months, to the process. On the pother hand, having to refile will also add weeks or months.

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Old 16th January 2020, 07:15 PM
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Being from California, we don’t have a Department of State (although various governors have thought we should have our own foreign policy), although we do have a Secretary of State who is responsible for corporate registrations, elections and various other duties, including the issuance of apostilles.

Normally in California, birth certificates are maintained and certified copies are issued by the county where the birth takes place. I’m not aware of circumstances where the Secretary of State would issue or certify birth certificates.

That said, at least for purposes of applying for and renewing a titre de séjour, the Prefecture in the Gard has accepted a county-certified copy of our birth certificates, accompanied by a translation, without an apostille.

Of course, YMMV.


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Old 16th January 2020, 07:50 PM
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Being from California, we don’t have a Department of State... ...although we do have a Secretary of State who is responsible for corporate registrations, elections and various other duties, including the issuance of apostilles.

Normally in California, birth certificates are maintained and certified copies are issued by the county where the birth takes place. I’m not aware of circumstances where the Secretary of State would issue or certify birth certificates....
You are, of course correct. Yes, I meant Secretary of State. It is Berkeley, where I once lived, that has it's own foreign policy and department of state. As for State issued birth certificates. They are available, but from the Department of Public Health. This is what I was referring to, and they are described as "Certified copies of a Birth Certificate" and signed by the State Registrar of Vital Records. It is then possible to have the certified birth certificate apostilled by the Secretary of State. Right now I have the certificates here, in hand. But to get them apostilled I have to send them back to California and then wait up to two months, depending on how busy they are.

My experience at the Prefecture, for the CdS was similar to yours, but in our case on our first visit (VLS-TS) they accepted simple uncertified photocopies of our birth certificates (from L.A. County) and our marriage license (also from L.A. County) and never looked at them again. However, I have heard/read the process for the CPAM/Amelie/Carte-Vital cares more about birth certificates and it is in that context I was asking.

BTW, the Official certified birth certificate from the department of public records is nothing more than a copy of the original certificate from L.A. County, printed on an official state certificate and signed and stamped.
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Old 17th January 2020, 06:45 AM
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My experience at the Prefecture, for the CdS was similar to yours, but in our case on our first visit (VLS-TS) they accepted simple uncertified photocopies of our birth certificates (from L.A. County) and our marriage license (also from L.A. County) and never looked at them again. However, I have heard/read the process for the CPAM/Amelie/Carte-Vital cares more about birth certificates and it is in that context I was asking.
Our uncertified, untranslated marriage license (from Sonoma County) and uncertified, untranslated birth certificates (from other states) were accepted by CPAM and a month later we each had a Carte Vitale.
Forum member RayRay had a totally different experience and details it completely on this posting entitled "Getting French Healthcare Insurance"
https://www.expatforum.com/expats/fr...l#post13693890
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Old 17th January 2020, 08:18 AM
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Back when I first came to France, and even some 10 or more years later when I took French nationality, apostilles were not required for most documents. Back then, apostilles was something you had to get if you lived in the Netherlands, but almost no one else had ever really heard of the process.

Now, it's a big deal. But the safest thing to do is to ask the office or authority who is asked for the documents whether a "certified" copy will suffice or if you need to get the document apostilled. (Just for the record, "certification" is usually the embossed stamp they put on the official copy of the document along with the date that the copy was drawn up. Apostille is a separate document that is permanently attached to the document and which authenticates it. At least that's how it works for most US documents.)

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Old 17th January 2020, 08:50 AM
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...ask the office or authority who is asked for the documents whether a "certified" copy will suffice or if you need to get the document apostilled....
That is probably the best way. But, it does mean an extra trip to the CPAM office. You also touch on my core, albeit rhetorical, question: What is the point of an apostille when the recognized governmental body that provides it is also the same body that certified the document in the first place? I.e. I can see having a birth certificate from Los Angeles County apostilled -- France knows nothing (officially) about L.A. County. But, having a state apostille its own certified document... ?
OTOH, there is another approach. Yesterday I received the following email from a friend who lives in Paris. Note it contains some information not directly relevant to my question, but which may be helpful to others.
Quote:
[ CPAM] kept rejecting my submission repeating all the time that they needed a “legible” birth certificate, which I believed I had sent in the three previous times. The problem was that my original properly-certified and embossed birth certificate was a photostatic (white-on-black) copy of a hand-written 1931 card file from the Bronx County hospital. The certificate indicated that I was born in “the Bronx” New York but my passport said that I was born in New York N.Y. An obvious contradiction as they understood it. These two issues caused their rejection on several previous submittals. I only learned this after a kindly native speaker managed to make contact by phone for me with the live decision maker. This is what I learned: A white-on-black photostat even with an officially embossed seal and notary signature is not acceptable because it cannot be scanned “legibly" according their standards (which they will never reveal to you). That’s what they meant by “illegible”. (I was thinking “handwriting”, but no. ...

... I would suggest that you do try to obtain a rendezvous a with a live “expert” to evaluate your documents before you submit them...
And thanks to Traveler12B
Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveler12B View Post
...Forum member RayRay had a totally different experience and details it completely on this posting entitled "Getting French Healthcare Insurance"
https://www.expatforum.com/expats/fr...l#post13693890
I had seen that thread before (I know, because I commented on it) and forgotten about it. It is not clear if the birth certificates @RayRay submitted were certified by the respective states, some other agency, or not certified at all. That information might explain the requirement for the apostille.

So, at this point I am thinking I will probably get my application together, sans-apostille, and just go see the "live expert" if such exists in our local CPAM office.

BTW, does anyone here know what the actual french term for a CPAM live-expert?

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Old 17th January 2020, 10:55 AM
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That is probably the best way. But, it does mean an extra trip to the CPAM office. You also touch on my core, albeit rhetorical, question: What is the point of an apostille when the recognized governmental body that provides it is also the same body that certified the document in the first place? I.e. I can see having a birth certificate from Los Angeles County apostilled -- France knows nothing (officially) about L.A. County. But, having a state apostille its own certified document... ?
OTOH, there is another approach. Yesterday I received the following email from a friend who lives in Paris. Note it contains some information not directly relevant to my question, but which may be helpful to others.

And thanks to Traveler12BI had seen that thread before (I know, because I commented on it) and forgotten about it. It is not clear if the birth certificates @RayRay submitted were certified by the respective states, some other agency, or not certified at all. That information might explain the requirement for the apostille.

So, at this point I am thinking I will probably get my application together, sans-apostille, and just go see the "live expert" if such exists in our local CPAM office.

BTW, does anyone here know what the actual french term for a CPAM live-expert?

Very funny Berko

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Old 17th January 2020, 12:03 PM
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Normally in California, birth certificates are maintained and certified copies are issued by the county where the birth takes place. I’m not aware of circumstances where the Secretary of State would issue or certify birth certificates.
In California you get a copy of the birth certificate from the county and then you send it to the Secretary of State to have it "apostilled".

Been there, done that.

https://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/request-apostille/

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Old 17th January 2020, 12:59 PM
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Although the US isn't the only country for which they want apostilled documents, the issue does seem to boil down to the US tendency for personal documents to be issued by various levels of "local" government - state, city or town, county, various sorts of "districts" or what have you.

Then, the documents may be "certified" by the local agency to be a "true copy" of what is in their records, but the apostille validates the notion that that agency is actually empowered to maintain that sort of records.

You don't hear about it so often now, but there used to be a fair number of Americans who had no birth certificate - for any number of reasons. For things like US Social Security, you still see instructions saying that people without a birth certificate can use baptism records, school entry records or other sources. But I really wonder how you can get something like that apostilled by the state!

Generally speaking, all the apostille really authenticates is that the signature that appears on the certification ("this is a true copy of the record") is actually that of the county or city clerk at the time the copy was made. They don't likely have records going back to check that whoever signed the original birth cert was authorized to do so.

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Old 17th January 2020, 01:40 PM
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In California you get a copy of the birth certificate from the county and then you send it to the Secretary of State to have it "apostilled".



Been there, done that.



https://www.sos.ca.gov/notary/request-apostille/


Yes, but that is not what the OP has. Apparently the CA State Dept. of Public Health also maintains copies of birth certificates, in addition to the county where the birth took place. (That was news to me.) He is asking whether the state-certified copy of the birth certificate issued by the DPH needs to apostilled . . . by the state.
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