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Studying abroad is for many a dream that becomes a reality, while for others it represents the only alternative possible. Historical English universities, prestigious American campuses, Soviet dormitories of times past: when we daydream, we imagine ourselves in these places, breathing in the history and the culture…
Dreams aside, it is important to remember that all the documentation must be compliant with the requirements of the university. Usually, universities require a sworn translation of school certificates, but the sworn (authenticated) document may not be enough. In some cases, in fact, the original documents must also be legalised or require an apostille.
As a professional translation agency specialised in sworn translation and legalisation, we often are required to carry out extensive research to understand if, for example, a university degree from Russia needs to be legalised (or whether it requires an apostille or not) in order to be accepted in Italy. What have we discovered?
According to the provisions of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and international cooperation, every document issued by foreign authorities, to be valid in Italy, must be legalised at an Italian Embassy or Consulate office abroad. This is required also for school certificates, diplomas, degrees and other documentation issued by foreign universities. On the other hand, if I have a school certificate issued by an Italian university and I wish to continue my studies abroad, I will certainly need legalisation, but every rule has its exception, and this is precisely the case with documents issued in Italy.
The Hague Convention
Italy, together with many other countries, is a member of the Hague Convention of 1961, which substitutes legalisation with affixing an apostille. The apostille is a specific stamp that contains essential data relevant to the document, such as the name and title of the person who signed it. All member nations of the European Union, Russia, Ukraine, the United States and many other countries (complete and updated list can be found on the Hague Convention website) are members of the Hague Convention.
The signature of the Hague Convention and the participation of the many countries has sped up the legalisation process: now a person with a document issued in Italy can request an apostille, if necessary, from the Prefecture and have their document quickly legalised. At this point, they can proceed with the translation, with having it sworn and subsequent request for apostille of the translations through our translation agency.
In the two previous paragraphs, we discussed the two most common cases, which we can summarise as follows: Is the country where the document was issued a member of the Hague Convention? Generally, when we know the answer to this question we know how to proceed. There are also two other conventions to consider:
1. The European Convention of Brussels
According to this convention signed in 1987, certificates issued by member countries are exempt both from legalisation and from requiring an apostille for Italy. These countries are Belgium, Denmark (except Greenland and Faroe Islands), Estonia, France, Ireland and Latvia.
2. The Rome Convention
Signed in 1969, this convention exonerates all documents issued in the Federal Republic of Germany from being legalised and from requiring an apostille.
It is nonetheless necessary to have a sworn translation of the documents in Italian.
The legalisation or the apostille are therefore necessary steps to avoid surprises when submitting documents to register to a foreign university. Getting information ahead of time and turning to a professional translation agency like OLÈXICA could save your life, ensuring you an accurate translation that is compliant with international regulations and avoiding you the hassle of having to redo the translation because it lacks a stamp.