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What is the difference between the official and the unofficial transcripts that are required for graduate studies?

I assume that both documents should be in English (if you study in a foreign university). Thus, unofficial means that you can make the translation yourself whereas official means that the translation is being made by an authorized person?

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If I want a copy of my records, I have two options: one, is to log in to the university website and generate a up to date PDF; or I can pay the university for a signed copy, that consists on a copy printed by them, signed by two or three officials, and rubber stamped. The reason admissions usually want the second, as it is more difficult to forge, but it usually takes time (from a week to more than a month).

I want to bring attention to the Stockholm University system. Whenever you generate a transcript, it includes a code and a website. Anyone receiving that transcript can verify its authenticity easily. Reliable, fast, and free.

Depending on the university, they may want a translation, a certified translation (made and stamped by some official translator, usually expensive), or nothing at all. In my experience in Europe, in most cases, they only need a certified version for making things official when they have decided to hire you -if any. I know for a fact that my supervisor has not ever looked at my transcript, and they never requested a translated version.

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  • You can also generally have official copies delivered directly to the recipient without going through your own hands. Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 2:44
  • The system you describe in Stockholm is used in a few places I know of as well. It is a pleasure to use Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 7:06
  • @dmckee I believe that is a common requirement in the USA. My former university only sends things upon request of the other institution, so my friends applying for the States had to rely on some people at the administration to be nice.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 7:33

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