Apostille Certificate of Free Sale

Whenever foreign companies export products to a country, they are required to present a certificate of free sale. Not just that, this cert. of free sale must be duly apostilled if the exportation will be done to a member country of The Hague Convention.

In this post, we will discuss the necessary steps to get your certificate of free sale apostilled. We’ll list the steps together with a faster alternative that you can consider if you’re running out of time.

What’s an FDA certificate of free sale?

A certificate of free sale is also called a Certificate to Foreign Governments or a Certificate for Export. Whatever it is called, it serves one big purpose: to ensure that the products being brought to the country are eligible for sale.

In the United States, this certificate also confirms that the manufacturer of the products doesn’t have any active enforcement actions imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Take note that before the certificate of free sale can be used overseas, it needs to be apostilled.

The Secretary of State apostille will prove that the certificate is legitimate and, therefore, acceptable to all members of the Hague Convention of 1961.

However, if you’re using the certificate as a non-member of the said convention, you need to undergo a different authentication process.

How to apostille a Certificate of Free Sale

If you want to apostille a certificate of free sale, you have to follow several steps. Let’s say you’re in the United States and planning to get an apostille in California. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. Prepare a copy of the certificate

Before you head out to get a State of California apostille, you should first prepare an original or certified copy of the certificate of free sale.

You can get this either from the Chamber of Commerce, the State Department, or the FDA (federal government). Also, take note that photo-copied versions are not valid for California apostille.

Step 2. Notarize the certificate

The next step to secure a California Secretary of State apostille is to notarize the document to your location. In some cases, you can have it notarized right at the Chamber of Commerce once you get the document. If not, you can have it notarized somewhere else as long as the person is a certified California notary.

In general, the notary will attach an “Acknowledgment” on your certificate of free sale. It’s also accompanied by a notary seal and/or notarial wording.

Step 3. Translate the document (if necessary)

If the receiving country requires it, you also need to translate the certificate into their language. Take note you need to hire professional and certified document translation services for the document to be eligible for use.

Step 4. Submit your application

Once you have all the documents ready, you can submit your application to the Secretary of State. This way, you can be issued with a State of California apostille in Los Angeles.

Take note that the apostille application should be submitted to the state department where your business is located. Also, make sure you provide the name of the receiving country.

Step 5. Wait for your apostille to arrive

The normal processing of apostille CA takes about two weeks. This is aside from the mailing time if you want to have it sent to your address.

Faster option: hire apostille services

If you need an apostille in Los Angeles on short notice, you can opt for apostille services instead. They can have your certificate of free sale apostilled in as fast as 5 hours.

Apostille services in Los Angeles will save you from the hassle of manual application. They can also handle the notarization and translation of your certificate, so you don’t have to do it on your own. While they will charge an additional fee for your CA secretary of state apostille, it’s often a great option for fast documentation.

What if the receiving country isn’t a member of The Hague Convention?

If you use the certificate of free sale in a country that’s not a part of The Hague Convention, you’ll need an embassy authentication instead.

For this, you should send your apostilled certificate to the Department of State and the Embassy or Consulate in your place of business. Instead of a Secretary of State California apostille, you’ll receive a legalization document.


An apostille from the California Secretary of State will ensure that your certificate of free sale is eligible for international use. Just make sure that you provide correct information during the apostillation process to avoid rejections or delays.

If you don’t have the time to handle the CA SOS apostille on your own, you can always tap the help of experts. They can handle the process for you in exchange for a small fee. Overall, this will help you save time and money, especially if you’re exporting your products to multiple countries.