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Legal Resources

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Legal Resources

Authentication of American Academic Credentials for Use Abroad

Disclaimer

The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign counsel.

U.S. embassies and consulates cannot authenticate diplomas or other documents from universities and other schools in the United States or provide notarial services related to such credentials.

PROVISO:

The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad ceased to authenticate or provide certified true copies of academic credentials, transcripts or degrees in 1983. The U.S. Department of Education determined at that time that such documents are not required in the United States for persons who studied abroad and wish to attend primary or secondary school, or college in the United States. This was announced in a joint release by the U.S. Departments of State and Education published in the NAFSA newsletter of December/January 1983. See 7 FAM 874. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security also determined that authentication of foreign academic credentials generally is not required for U.S. immigration purposes. In an effort to be of assistance to persons who wish to present academic credentials from the United States for use abroad, the following step-by-step guidance is provided.

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Colleges, Universities and Other Post-Secondary Institutions
  1. Obtain from the registrar of the University an official true copy of the credentials. The registrar should then execute an affidavit attesting to the validity of the document before a notary public. Frequently the business offices of colleges and universities have notaries public.
  2. Take the document, with the notarial certificate to the state Notary Public Administrator for authentication. If the country where the document will be used is a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the state Notary Public Administrator will affix an Apostille certificate and no further authentication is necessary. See the Hague Conference on Private International Law Apostille Page for a current list of countries party to the treaty. The treaty is in force many countries throughout the world.
  3. If the country is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the state Notary Public Administrator will affix a state authentication certificate. You should then send the document to the Authentications Office of the Department of State, following the instruction on that office’s web page.
  4. If necessary, obtain authentication of the U.S. Department of State seal at the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. The embassy in Washington, DC of the country in which the document is to be used can tell you if this is required.
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Public Primary and Secondary Schools
  1. Obtain a transcript from the school, the principal or other authorized official should then execute an affidavit attesting to the validity of the document before a notary public.
  2. Take the document, with the notarial certificate to the state Notary Public Administrator for application of the state seal. If the country where the document will be used is a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the state Notary Public Administrator will affix an Apostille certificate and no further authentication is necessary. See the Hague Conference on Private International Law Apostille Page for a current list of countries party to the treaty. The treaty is in force many countries throughout the world.
  3. If the country is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention, the state Notary Public Administrator will affix a state authentication certificate. You should then send the document to the Authentications Office of the Department of State, following the instruction on that office’s web page.
  4. If necessary, obtain authentication of the U.S. Department of State seal at the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C. The embassy in Washington, DC of the country in which the document is to be used can tell you if this is required.
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Private Primary and Secondary Schools

You should follow the instructions for colleges and universities above.

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Bogus Credentials

It is important to note that the authentication procedures outlined above are not intended to verify the content of the underlying documents, but rather they authenticate the seal and signature of public officials, in this case notaries public. An authentication on a transcript does not certify that the person named on the transcript completed a particular course of study, rather it authenticates the signature and seal of the notary who witnessed the registrar’s affidavit. Persons relying on academic credentials should be aware that there are individuals and groups who issue fake academic credentials for a fee. While these documents may be attested to in a notarized affidavit and thus authenticated, persons with concerns about credentials emanating from these “Diploma Mills” should attempt to verify the accreditation status of the school where the documents originated. For U.S. academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education maintains a Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.