If you are planning to present a document to a foreign government as part of a visa application, then it will likely need an apostille. Established by the Hague Convention of 1961, apostilles certify the signature of an official on a given document, meaning the document will be recognized as valid by any country party to the convention. This usually makes the immigration process significantly easier for individuals, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when getting an apostille. Keep reading below to discover just three of the most important tips.

Get Your Document Notarized First

If you know that a document requires an apostille, it is imperative to note that you cannot send off for one right away. After all, an apostille only confirms the authenticity of a signature, and not the document itself. The signature that requires authentication will almost always have to be that of a notary public. To this end, the first thing you should consider in the process of getting an apostille is finding a certified notary public who will act as an impartial witness to your statement that the document is legitimate. Notary publics are usually available to perform these duties at a variety of retail outlets which offer printing, copying, or similar services.

Check For Additional Requirements

After getting your document notarized, the next few steps will vary depending on the kind of document you have, as well as related visa requirements. If the document has been issued by a federal agency, you will need to get the notary public's signature certified by the Secretary of State's office in your state first. Only then should you send the document to the United States Department of State for an apostille. If, however, the document has been issued by the state, a public university diploma is just one example, then you do not need additional certification at the federal level. This distinction is crucial and can save you time, money, and plenty of headaches if kept in mind. 

Shop Around For Expedited Apostille Offers

If you are leaving for a foreign country soon, and you are in a hurry to get an apostille attached to your document, know that there are plenty of services available that will expedite the process so that it only takes a matter of days. That said, the rates charged by these services can vary dramatically, so be sure to compare rates before shipping off your document. 

Contact a local apostille service to learn more.