American institutions tend to use an official transcript as proof of degree and course of study; however, for international purposes, the diploma is the preferred proof of degree and study. Foreign governments will require some type of government certification on your diploma before you are allowed to apply for further study and/or employment.
What is an Apostille?
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.
An apostille authenticates the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, notarials, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority, so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are parties to the Convention.
What are the steps involved?
All documents must be notarized by a notary public in order to be authenticated and legalized, and to receive the apostille – except for official, certified government issued documents. The notary will require valid ID, and will witness the document being signed. The notary public attests to the signature and places their seal on the document.
For the apostille certification, the document must be submitted to the California Secretary of State. Further information on its website: www.sos.ca.gov/notary/authentication/
Some notaries who live near the Secretary of State’s office may offer unofficial “apostille services” which essentially provides a courier service to deliver and return the paperwork to customers.