How to Authenticate Documents in DFA: An Ultimate Guide to Apostille Certificate

Last Updated on 09/26/2020 by FilipiKnowOpens in a new tab.

Aside from processing Philippine passportsOpens in a new tab., the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also tasked with authenticating documents.

Formerly known as “red ribbon” authentication, the process used to involved affixing red satin ribbons to public documents that will be used abroad.

Starting June 17, 2019, however, DFA has officially stopped issuing “red ribbons” which have been replaced by “Apostille” certificates following the Philippines’ accession to the Apostille Convention.

What exactly is an Apostille certificate and how does it differ from the “red ribbon” certificates we’re all familiar with?

In this guide, we’ll cover everything about this new authentication process and how it has made processing documents to be used abroad easier than ever before.


Table of Contents

Why do you need to authenticate a document?

Let’s say you have a PSA birth certificate.Opens in a new tab.

Birth certificates in the Philippines and those issued by other countries don’t look the same. They’re also not processed in the same way.

So how can a foreign country accept a document (in this case, a birth certificate) from a completely different country with completely different laws and culture?

This is when authentication enters the picture.

Since the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, embassies or consulates around the world have been following the same authentication procedure to ensure that a document processed in a particular country will remain valid in another country.

For this reason, the purpose of having your documents authenticated by DFA is to ensure embassies or consulates in other countries that the said documents have been carefully reviewed, examined, and subjected to an agreed-upon authentication procedure.

In other words, the DFA authentication guarantees foreign embassies that whatever document you’re submitting is not fake and was released by a recognized Philippine government agency.


DFA “Red Ribbon” versus Apostille Certificates: What’s the Difference?

Filipinos have grown familiar with “red ribbons” that whenever their foreign employers ask them to authenticate certain documents, they immediately associate this procedure with “red ribbons.”

However, starting June 17, 2019, DFA has stopped issuing “red ribbon” certificates to authenticate public documents that will be used abroad.

The “red ribbons” have been replaced by Apostille certificates. This new procedure isn’t intended to confuse people as some have been led to believe. Rather, it’s designed to streamline the authentication process.

Let me explain.

On September 12, 2018, the Philippines formally acceded to the Apostille Convention held in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Apostille Convention is basically an international treaty where all signatory countries came to an agreement that documents issued by one signatory country can be accepted by another signatory country without undergoing additional consular authentication.

Now, this is what makes the Apostille certificate different from the discontinued “red ribbon” certificates.

In the old system (see image below), you can’t use a Philippine-issued document abroad unless it’s authenticated by DFA and then legalized by the Foreign Embassy with jurisdiction over the country where the document will be used.

apostille authentication in the philippines
Photo Credit: DFA Official website

By contrast, the Apostille certificate enables Filipinos to use their authenticated documents in any Apostille-contracting countries without going through another consular authentication or legalization procedure.

In other words, you only need to go to the DFA to get your documents authenticated. There’s no longer a need to go to the Consular Office of your destination country, making the whole process easier, faster, and relatively cheaper.

Related: But what happens to my old red ribbon documents? Are they still valid? Can I still use them?Opens in a new tab.


Sample of an Apostille Certificate in the Philippines.

apostille philippines sample
Source: DFA

Take note that you can verify the authenticity of an Apostille Certificate by going to this linkOpens in a new tab..

An authentic Apostille Certificate usually includes the following features:

  • A dry seal of the DFA
  • Signature of the Authentication Officer
  • QR code
  • Eight-digit keycode

Which countries accept the Apostille certificate for authenticated documents?

As mentioned previously, an Apostille certificate issued by DFA in the Philippines is only accepted by other countries that are also signatories to the Apostille Convention.

For a complete list of Apostille-contracting countries, please check out this linkOpens in a new tab. or see the image below.

apostille countries
Photo Credit: DFA Official website

In addition to the countries NOT included above, Apostille certificates are also NOT accepted in Austria, Germany, Greece, and Finland.


List of Documents That Can Be Authenticated and Get an Apostille Certificate.

apostille documents
Source: DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offers authentication services for the following documents:

1. Transcript of Records (TOR) and Diploma (For State Colleges and Universities).

  • Only bring Certified True Copies from the school.
  • Documents must have the Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the school and signed by the school/university registrar and/or school’s authorized signatory.

2. Transcript of Records (TOR) and Diploma (Private Schools and Local Universities and Colleges).

  • Only bring Certified True Copies from the school.
  • Documents must have the Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) where the school is located.

3. Transcript of Records (TOR) and Diploma / National Certificate (Technical or Vocational Courses).

  • Only bring Certified True Copies from the school.
  • Documents must have the Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) where the school is located.

4. Form 137 and Diploma (High School and Elementary Level).

  • Only bring Certified True Copies from the school.
  • Documents must have the Certification, Authentication, and Verification (CAV) from the Dep-Ed Regional Office where the school is located.

5. Medical/AIDS-Free Certificate.

  • If for the purpose of employment, a DOH stamp per document is required.
  • If the document will be used for other purposes, please obtain Certification issued by DOH with the attached Medical Certificate.

6. Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued licenses.

  • Must be certified/authenticated by CAAP.

7. Driver’s LicenseOpens in a new tab..

8. Professional LicenseOpens in a new tab.s/Board Certificates/Board Ratings/Certifications and other PRC documents.

  • Must be Certified True Copies from the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

9. Certificate of Employment/Invitation Letter/Training/Seminars, Baptismal Certificate, and other documents issued by a private entity.

  • Must have a notarized affidavit which states the necessary factual circumstances and indicates the certificate/s as attachment/s.
  • Please secure a Certificate of Authority for a Notarial Act (CANA) signed by the Executive Judge/Vice Executive Judge/any office authorized signatories (issued by the Regional Trial Court).
  • Note that the copy of the Notarial Commission is not the same as the Certificate of Authority for a Notarial Act (CANA).

10. Special Power of Attorney (SPA)Opens in a new tab./Memorandum of Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding/Any other form of Contract/Affidavit of Consent or Advice/Joint Affidavit/Other Affidavits.

  • Please secure a Certificate of Authority for a Notarial Act (CANA) signed by the Executive Judge/Vice Executive Judge/any office authorized signatories (issued by the Regional Trial Court).

11. Court Document/s (Decisions/Resolutions/Orders).

  • Only bring certified true copies of the document/s.

12. Immigration Records.

  • Must be certified/authenticated by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

13. DSWD Clearance.

  • This refers to the travel clearance for minors issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Only bring original document issued by DSWD.

14. NBI ClearanceOpens in a new tab./Sundry.

  • Personal copy of the NBI clearance won’t be accepted.
  • It must be an original document issued by the NBI with dry seal.
  • The NBI clearance to be authenticated must be issued by the National Bureau of Investigation. Take note that NBI clearance is now “multi-purpose” so the green clearance annotated for travel or work abroad is no longer issued.

15. Police ClearanceOpens in a new tab./Sundry.

  • DFA accepts original police clearances issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

16. Barangay Clearance/Certificate.

  • Mayor’s Clearance or Certification which has jurisdiction over the Barangay of the applicant’s place of residence.

17. Export Document/s.

  • Depending on what type of export document you have, it must be certified/authenticated by anyone of the following: Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Chamber of Commerce (PCCI), Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), or Department of Agriculture (DA).

18. Business RegistrationOpens in a new tab. and Other Documents issued by a Government Agency (e.g. SECOpens in a new tab., DTIOpens in a new tab., BIROpens in a new tab., SSS, Municipal Business Permit & Licensing OfficeOpens in a new tab., etc.).

  • Must be Certified True Copy from the issuing office.

19. Birth/Marriage/Death Certificate, Certificate of No Marriage Record (CENOMAR, Advisory on Marriage, and/or Negative Records).

  • Must be an original document issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) or the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
  • If it’s a newly registered record, the Local Civil Registrar (LCR) copy should be certified by the PSA.
  • If any of the entries from PSA/NSO are unclear, please provide a Local Civil Registrar (LCR) copy of Birth (Form 1A)/Death (Form 2A)/Marriage (Form 3A) Certificate.

Requirements to Get an Apostille Certificate in the Philippines.

Before going to the DFA office, ensure that you already have the following documentary requirements:

a. At least 1 valid government-issued ID.

You can bring any one of the following:

b. If authorized representative, please bring the following:

c. Document/s to be authenticated (see the previous list of documents).


How Much Does it Cost to Authenticate Documents/Get an Apostille Certificate in the Philippines?

The cost of document authentication depends on whether you prefer expedite or regular processing. For expedite, you can receive the Apostille after only 1 working day for the cost of Php 200 per document. Regular processing, on the other hand, takes 4 working days for a cheaper fee of Php 100 per document.


How to Authenticate Documents in DFA: 5 Easy Steps.

1. Set an appointment with the DFA Consular Office that offers authentication services.

Unlike in Philippine passport applicationOpens in a new tab. and renewalOpens in a new tab., you don’t need to secure an online appointment to avail of the authentication services offered by DFA.

Simply proceed to the DFA during office hours and go directly to the queue or counter designated for the authentication service.

Update: Due to the ongoing health crisis, applications for DFA authentication services are now strictly by appointment only. To set an appointment, you can send an email to [email protected] or call the Authentication Concerns Hotline: 0966-410-8465 (Globe) 0908-208-6313 (Smart).

DFA authentication services are only available at the following consular offices:

  • DFA Aseana (main office).
  • DFA NCR-Northeast (Ali Mall).
  • DFA NCR-East (SM Megamall).
  • DFA NCR-West (SM Manila).
  • DFA NCR-South (Metro Gaisano Alabang).
  • DFA San Fernando, Pampanga
  • DFA Davao
  • DFA Cebu

For the complete address and contact information of each office mentioned above, please refer to this guideOpens in a new tab..

Before you head over to your chosen DFA Consular Office, keep in mind the following reminders:

  • DFA Consular Offices are open from Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 6 PM.
  • DFA Aseana (main office) only offers authentication services during weekdays (Monday to Friday).
  • If your documents need further verification, please file at the Authentication Division at DFA Aseana (main office).
  • Both DFA Davao and Cebu recently opened their doors to applicants in need of authentication services, making it easier for OFWs from the Visayas and Mindanao to complete their requirements without the need to fly to Manila.
  • DFA Davao is the first consular office in Mindanao to offer authentication service. It is located at the 3rd Floor of SM City Davao on Quimpo Boulevard, Ecoland, Matina and open from 10 am to 4 pm (from Mondays to Fridays), and from 10 am to 3 pm (on Saturdays). It issues Apostille certificates for the authentication of the following documents: PSA birth certificates and marriage contracts, NBI clearances, PRC licenses, and CHED-certified academic credentials.
  • DFA Cebu is the latest addition to the list of DFA consular offices that offer authentication services. Located inside the Pacific Mall in Mandaue City, this office accepts applications from Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Although authentication services are available from Monday to Saturday in most Consular Offices, the authenticated documents are only released during weekdays (Monday to Friday).
  • Due to the current health crisis, an appointment is now required for those applying for DFA authentication services. To set an appointment, send an email to [email protected] or call the Authentication Concerns Hotline: 0966-410-8465 (Globe) 0908-208-6313 (Smart).

2. Fill out the DFA Authentication application form.

Upon arrival at the DFA Consular Office, proceed to the Authentication Information counter and get a queuing number. Wait for your turn.

Fill out the DFA Authentication application form. Here’s a PDF copy of the application form to give you an idea of what it looks like.

Take note that there’s a maximum of 5 documents (to be authenticated) per application form.

3. Submit documents to the Processing Window.

Proceed to the Processing Window and present your valid ID.

Submit your duly accomplished DFA Authentication application form along with the document/s to be authenticated.

4. Pay the DFA Authentication fee.

Pay the appropriate DFA authentication fee to the cashier.

As of this writing, DFA authentication costs Php 100/document for regular processing (released after 4 working days) and Php 200/document for express processing (released after 1 working day).

The table below summarizes the current DFA authentication fees:

dfa authentication fee

After payment of the fee, you will be issued an official receipt along with a release date when you can claim the authenticated document/s.

Please keep the official receipt.

5. Claim your authenticated document/s.

Return to the DFA Consular Office on the indicated release schedule.

Drop the official receipt issued to you after payment (see the previous step) at the Releasing DropBox and wait for your name/number to be called.

Once it’s your turn, present a valid ID and/or Special Power of AttorneyOpens in a new tab. (if you’re claiming the document/s on behalf of someone) at the Releasing Window.

Upon receiving the authenticated document/s, double-check for any inaccuracy or errors before leaving the DFA premises.


Tips and Warnings.

  • Apostilles do not expire.
  • Apostille certificate only certifies the origin of the document or the person/authority whose signature/seal appears on the public document. It doesn’t certify the content of the said document.
  • Apostille certificates only apply to public documents that will be used abroad. Authentication and the Apostille certificates will not be issued to documents that will only be used locally.
  • If the country of your destination is one of the excluded countries or not a signatory to the Apostille Convention, you may need to go to that country’s Consular Office/Embassy and have your documents legalized/certified. For more information, please contact the Foreign Embassy or the intended recipient of your documents to see what options are available for you.

Frequently Asked Questions.

1. How long is the validity of DFA-authenticated documents?Opens in a new tab.

2. I can’t personally go to DFA to file/claim the documents. Can an authorized representative do it on my behalf?

3. How can I authenticate my Philippine-issued documents if I’m abroad?

4. What happens to unclaimed DFA-authenticated documents?Opens in a new tab.

5. My documents were authenticated with a red ribbon before the “Apostillization” took effect. Can I still use them?Opens in a new tab.

6. How can I apply for the authentication of civil service eligibility?Opens in a new tab.

Luisito Batongbakal Jr.

Luisito E. Batongbakal Jr. is the founder and chief content strategist of FilipiKnow, a leading online portal for free educational, Filipino-centric content. His curiosity and passion for learning have helped millions of Filipinos around the world get access to free insightful and practical information at the touch of their fingertips. With him at the helm, FilipiKnow has won numerous awards including the Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs 2013, the 2015 Globe Tatt Awards, and the 2015 Philippine Bloggys Awards (nomination).

197 thoughts on “How to Authenticate Documents in DFA: An Ultimate Guide to Apostille Certificate

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  5. Hello! Your article is very informative and helpful.

    Pero i-clarify ko lang, if a country is not part of the Apostille-contracting countries, need pa rin dumaan sa legalization of the documents by its respective embassy or consulate, right? And will they accept Apostille certificate during legalization process, considering they’re not part of it?

  6. hello the appointment available is after 20days? is there any way that i can get an earlier appointment? please i need to expedite my processing. i already took a lot of time to get the documents. Also, your link to get an appointment requires me to upload my documents, ur system is super slow and always lagging. can i get an appointment without uploading the documents?

  7. Hi po! Any idea po if nagpaprocess ang Lbc dito sa pinas or other couriers for processing of Apostille? Im from Baguio po kasi. Thank you po!

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  9. dear, how many copies of SPA should I provide so my representative can process DFA authentication of my birth cert and cenomar (requirements for applying marriage)

    1. You only need to provide one. Read this to learn more about SPA:

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