Go Blue! Are you a student or graduate of the University of Michigan that's starting the process of studying abroad? First of all, congratulations! I hope you make many fond memories that last for a lifetime while attending school in another country. I'm sure you've looked over the process of action items that need to be completed before you can go on your journey, and some of these tasks can be quite tedious. The one responsibility that I wanted to focus on for this blog post is that of the document authentication or apostille pertaining to either your college transcript or diploma. Here I'll walk you through the steps to achieving this process, whether if you decide to take on the job yourself or feel inclined to hire American Apostille & Notary Services to do the hard work for you. What is an Apostille? An Apostille or Authentication is used to certify documents for usage in certain foreign countries, such as your diploma, official transcript, and enrollment and graduation verification letters. The Apostille or Authentication verifies the signature and authority of the official who signed, issued, or certified a document such as the ones listed above. If the institution receiving your paperwork requires it, you will simply need to get an Apostille or Authentication. You should double-check with the country where you'll be working or studying to see if this step is required. Step 1: Getting Started / Notarize Documents To begin the Apostille or Authentication process you will need to have your transcript, verification, and/or diploma notarized. This is a step that you will need to complete whether if you're taking this process on yourself or outsourcing it to American Apostille & Notary Services. Check with the school Registrar office to find out how to get this accomplished. Step 2: Obtain Your Notarized Documents Again, this task is something you'll have to do, even if you're having an Apostille service do most of the Apostille or Authentication process legwork. This is self-explanatory, but you should still check with your school Registrar office to learn about how to obtain your notarized documents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools do not allow in-person pick up. Step 3: Certify with the County Clerk This is the last step that you need to do yourself if you're hiring an Apostille service like American Apostille & Notary Services. Before a person may request an apostille or certificate of authentication from the Department of State, he or she must obtain a copy of the document and have the document authenticated by a County Clerk or other appropriate official or, in certain instances, the document must be notarized and the signature of the notary must be authenticated by the County Clerk. Step 4: Go to the Michigan Department of State to Receive the Apostille This is the first step that can be outsourced to American Apostille & Notary Services. After your document has been certified by the County Clerk’s office, you must take it to the Michigan Department of State. This office will affix the Apostille to your documents. If the foreign country where you will be working or studying accepts an Apostille, your document is now certified for use. This step can be tedious and time consuming, so hiring an outside service may be beneficial for you. If this step is done incorrectly, which happens often, you may have to start over at Step 1 again. Step 5: Further Authentication Some foreign countries require the document to be authenticated in addition to receiving an Apostille. If your document requires authentication, you must take it to the United States Department of State, Authentications Office. The Authentications Office will authenticate the document by issuing a certificate under the Seal of the U.S. Department of State. Additional Information About An Apostille The United States is part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. The Convention provides for the simplified certification of public (including notarized) documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention. Under the Hague Convention, signatory countries have agreed to recognize public documents issued by other signatory countries if those public documents are authenticated by the attachment of an internationally recognized form of authentication known as an "apostille." The apostille ensures that public documents issued in one signatory country will be recognized as valid in another signatory country. Additional Information About Authentication Countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention may require that the documents undergo an additional step for obtaining an "authentication." The authentication validates the document for use in the foreign country. Once again, congratulations on the decision to study abroad. Regardless of if you decide to outsource the document Authentication or Apostille to American Apostille & Notary Services or not, I hope this is a great experience for you! There is no margin for error with the Authentication or Apostille process. If mistakes are made, both your time and money will be wasted and you'll have to start all over again. If you want to look into outsourcing this part of preparing to studying abroad to someone with experience, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 848-467-7740 to request my services or learn more.