There are two types of Apostille authentication in the United States. The first is the US Department of State Apostille for federally issued documents, such as FBI checks. The second is the Secretary of State Apostille for documents that come from State level institutions, such as university degrees.
Americans require an Apostille authentication for two individual documents. The first is a Department of State Apostille for your FBI Background Check, and the second is a Secretary of State Apostille for the notarized copy of your Degree.
An Apostille is a type of international authentication for documents. Documents that are issued in one country (your home country) but need to be used in another country (such as South Korea) must be ‘authenticated’ or ‘legalized’ to verify authenticity. In short, it’s a universal approach to curbing the use of fraudulent documents.
Americans must have their FBI Check authenticated with an Apostille from the US Department of State (DOS). There are no exceptions or alternatives to this requirement.
The FBI does not Apostille background checks. Having your FBI check Apostilled is a separate step that needs to be completed after you’ve received your background check from the FBI.
Important: Although some Secretary of State Offices (state level) will Apostille FBI background checks, the Korean Immigration Office requires the Department of State (federal level) Apostille for FBI checks.
There are 2 ways to have your FBI check Apostilled. The first way (what we recommend), is using a private Apostille service. Why? Because it’s easier (they deal with the DOS on your behalf), it’s faster (only 3-5 business days), and the cost isn’t substantially more than doing it yourself. Refer to Monument Visa Service details below for instructions.
The second way to secure an Apostille for your FBI check is by ordering it yourself, directly from the US Department of State Office. We don’t advise doing it this way because of the lengthy processing timeline (this method can take up to 8 weeks!)
Option A (recommended method)
Gone2Korea recommends using Monument Visa Services to have your FBI check authenticated with an Apostille. They can secure an Apostille for both types of FBI checks: physical paper checks which can be mailed to them, or the digital checks (PDF format) which can be sent to them electronically via email.
Gone2Korea is not affiliated with Monument Visa Service, nor do we collect fees for referring people to them. We recommend them because they’re fast, efficient and fairly priced.
Option B (not recommended)
Due to the lengthy processing timeline involved, we don’t advise ordering an Apostille directly from the DOS unless you have lots of time to work with.
Americans also need to have the notarized copy of their degree Apostilled. To be clear, having the copy of your diploma notarized by a lawyer (lawyer signs and stamps a photocopy of your diploma) is different than acquiring the Apostille (both steps are needed).
Unlike FBI checks that need to be Apostille Authenticated at the federal level by the Department of State, your diploma can be Apostilled at the state level by your Secretary of State Office (SOS).
*** A few Secretary of State offices will only apostille copies of degrees that were notarized by the university (i.e. using a public notary won’t work).
Before you can acquire a Secretary of State Apostille for your degree, you’ll need to have a copy of it notarized. To do this, simply bring your original university degree (the physical diploma) and some photo identification to a notary public (or lawyer with a notary license) and request a ‘Notarized Copy’ of your degree certificate. The notary will make a photocopy of your original degree, then they will sign and stamp it; you now have a notarized copy of your degree. To find a notary public in your area, simply do a Google search for: ‘Notary Public + your city name’.
Bring the notarized copy of your degree to your Secretary of State office to request the Apostille Authentication. If you need to mail your documents to the SOS, make sure to use a priory courier service that offers a tracking number.
In a hurry? Monument Visa Service can have a photocopy of your degree notarized and Apostilled in Maryland in 3-4 business days. This is in addition to their federal DOS Apostille service for FBI checks – you can get both done at the same time.
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Gone2Korea is your connection to full-time teaching jobs in South Korea. Western graduates, primarily from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, use our services to secure jobs with trusted Korean schools, and schools use our services to find and hire enthusiastic teachers from the West.
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In addition to helping you land a job, we’ll also be helping you with your work visa, departure, arrival, and offering support for the entirety of your contracted term.
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