Saturday, February 11, 2012

Authentication process

     As I said in my intro, I hope that this blog can serve as a useful tool for people considering the move abroad. To that end, my first post is dedicated to the paperwork process I had to go through in order to work in the UAE. This is my process, as a single, upstate New Yorker. It varies state to state, and involves a lot more if you are married, have children, or are divorced with children. I know that I found it very helpful to read everyone else's experiences as I was going through the process, so I guess I am trying to add to the wealth of knowledge that is the internet. 
     First things first, make color photocopies of everything you want authenticated. (I actually scanned them in to my computer after each step.) You don't want to mess up your originals, or God forbid, have them get lost in the mail at some point in this process. In my case, I only needed my highest degree and teaching license. If you are married or have children, you will need marriage licenses, birth certificates, or letters from the  other parent stating it's okay for you to take your child out of the country (if you aren't still with them). You may need some other things too, but your recruiter should be able to fill you in based on your specific situation. I was recruited through Teach Away and found them very helpful in answering questions relating to authentication of documents.
     Once you have your photocopies, you need to get them notarized. I had to get my degree notarized at my university.(Free, but I can't promise that yours will be.) Luckily, I live a mere twenty minutes away, so it was no big deal. The signature being notarized is the person who signed your diploma. I was very confused about this and thought I was signing it in front of a notary to verify its authenticity. Well, I tried it at my bank and they flat out refused to sign off on that idea. So off to Binghamton University I trekked! That being said, some people were able to go to any notary and get them to sign off on their degree, so you may or may not need done by your university. As far as my teaching license goes, I didn't need that notarized. This is because my "foreign use stamp" was being issued from the same state office that my license was issued. They were able to verify that the signature on my license was in fact that of the Commissioner of the Education Department. So the Secretary of State essentially served as notary and SOS for that document. This is the part where I'm going to make a plug for contacting each department you are dealing with. I spoke to the NY SOS, the NY Department of State in D.C., and the UAE embassy in D.C., just to make sure I was doing everything right and wouldn't wind up having to repeat any steps, or spend more money. They were all EXTREMELY helpful. Call them. You'll be happy you did.
     Moving on, with my notary stamp in hand, I then had to hike over to the County Clerk's office. This is where they attach their signature of approval and state that the notary is in good standing and has the authority to be handing out said stamp. ($3, but prices vary here too.)
     Now my documents are ready to go to the Secretary of State in Albany. So I went to this website,, printed out my form, sent my documents and return envelope, and waited about a week to get it back in the mail. ($10 per document, at least in NY.) UAE does not accept an Apostille, and they know that. They should issue the Certificate of Authentication based solely on what county you say you are using it for, but to be on the safe side I did make a note stating I needed that versus the Apostille. 
    I received my things back in exactly a week. This is the part where I held on to them until I also received a job offer. The next steps are quite costly, even more so if you have more than the two documents I had. Some people opt to keep going with the process because it can be lengthy, but I figured the the extra week wouldn't make that huge a difference. I know that people living in Canada seem to have a longer process, as they do not have the ProEx courier service. So, if you live in Canada, you may want to get a move on right away. 
    Finally, the last step!!! I contacted ProEx, again very helpful, and they told me everything I needed. Here's what I enclosed: 

-Money order for $240. ($125 for ProEx, $39 to use their FedEx account, $8 per doc. for the  
 Dept. of State, and $30 per doc for the UAE Embasy.) They email you the label if you ask to  
 use their FedEx.
-Letter to ProEx explaining the intended use of my documents. (Working for ADEC)
-I also went online and found out what the Dept. of State and Embassy required and sent    
 that along too, although ProEx said the letter to them would suffice. I say better safe than 
-Self- addressed return envelope. (Your address should be both sender and recipient.)
-And of course, my documents!

    I sent it out on the 5th of December and got it back on the 15th. Some find ProEx too expensive, but I think it was well worth it for the service they provide. =)
     So, that was my authentication process. Certainly not the most exciting post you'll ever read, but hopefully a helpful one!

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