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Adopting Internationally?

If you’ve decided to pursue an international adoption, you may be familiar with the term “apostille.”  This term refers the document authentication process necessary to complete your adoption.   

If you’re considering adopting from a foreign country, you first need to determine whether the country you are adopting from is a signatory of the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (HCCH). If so, the process for certifying your documents will be to obtain an apostille.  If the country is not a signatory to the HCCH, you will have to have the document certified at a state level Secretary of State, the US Department of State, and the Embassy of the country from which you are adopting.  Next, you will need to determine the documents required by the Embassy to complete your adoption. 

No matter the country or the timeframe, Washington Consular Services (WCS) is here for you every step of the way in helping you get your paperwork completed as smoothly as possible, in the timeliest fashion. 

What is an “Apostille?”

An Apostille is a fancy term for authenticating a document that is headed to a Hague Signatory Country overseas. It’s very important to note that only countries that are Hague Convention Signatories will accept an Apostille as a form of document authentication. If the country you are adopting from is NOT a Hague Convention Signatory, your document will need to undergo Embassy Legalization.

Since WCS is located right next to Washington, D.C., we have close access to the necessary government entities and embassies needed for authentication. Instead of running around D.C yourself or jumping from agency to agency, let us focus on the paperwork! All you need to focus on is getting ready for this beautiful and rewarding experience!

Sample Documents 
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Apostille FBI background check 
  • Divorce Decrees 
  • Home studies 
  • Reference Letters

With WCS on your side, we will handle your document authentication, whether you need an Apostille, or Embassy Legalization. We work diligently to ensure your documents are authenticated appropriately with the correct stamps and certifications, and returned back to you, headache-free. Not sure what kind of authentication your document needs? Contact us today!

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Authenticating Academic Documents for Use in Qatar

If you’re planning to teach overseas, or if you’ve ventured out to international job markets, you may have realized that some countries have extra requirements for document authentication. China, Qatar, and Kuwait—just to name a few.

Let’s say you need your education documents (originating in the US) legalized for use in Qatar.

Qatar Diploma / Degree Attestation

The new requirements set by the Qatar Embassy/Consulate require the following documents to be processed together as a set:

1. Original Diploma (Notarized)

2. Original Transcript (Notarized)

3. Original Verification Letter (Notarized) — verification letter must be signed with a live signature and stamped by the registrar’s office and contain the following information

  • Certificate information is accurate
  • Enrollment and attendance (full-time, part-time, distance)
  • Study and tests locations
  • Degree obtained by the student (Diploma, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate)
  • Duration of the program
  • The actual time the student spent to get a certificate (study start date – study end date)
  • Public or private academic institution
  • *In cases where the student attended more than two institutions, this must be specified in this letter. The letter must mention that the diploma took place on campus, face to face, not online, in case students took some portion online, specify how many classes out of how many on campus-in person.

The three documents specified above will need to be bundled together as one set. The three documents will receive one seal/stamp from the US Department of State, and then will be legalized by the embassy/consulates.

The Qatar consulate will only legalize ORIGINAL documents—photocopies/scanned copies are no longer accepted. You may re-order a diploma with your university for this document legalization process. 

These are the necessary steps that need be completed by the Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, and the relevant embassy—Qatar’s consulate, in this case.

Before you send these documents in to WCS, each document must be notarized locally by a notary public where the document was issued. Then, the bundle (all the documents together) must be certified by the local secretary of state. Only after these critical steps are completed, should you send in your document bundle to WCS.

Once you’ve sent in the documents to WCS, we’ll send you our Education Records Consent and Release Form — you must return this document to us signed and completed.

From there, WCS will handle the document legalization process. WCS will take the bundle to the US Department of State and finally to the Qatar embassy/consulate.

Better yet, handle this process step-by-step with our app, WCS Express. We’re here to answer any questions you may have throughout this process!

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Teaching Abroad

What Do I Need to Teach Abroad?

Each country has its own requirements, but there are two main documents required for most teaching programs.

You will need:

  1. A copy of your FBI Criminal Background Check
  2. A copy of your MFA College Diploma + Transcript

After obtaining these documents, they must then be certified OR notarized* in the originating state.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky… if the country you are heading to is a signatory of the 1961 Hague Convention, then you need to get an Apostille.

If the country you are heading to is NOT a signatory of the 1961 Hague Convention, then your documents will need to go through Embassy Legalization–which is a more complex, lengthier process of certifying the authenticity of your educational documents.   

What is an Apostille? What’s Embassy Legalization? 

Essentially, both these items are forms of certification from the US government that informs the receiving international government the documents in question are valid and able to be used overseas.

Why do I need to get an Apostille for a criminal background check?

Especially in Asian countries, there has been an unfortunate rise of criminals and sexual predators who have entered the country with the intention of teaching English in their school systems. Because of this, there has been a need for increased security within the education realm, and ESL teaching applicants must now provide certification of their documents.

How do I get an Apostille for my diploma?

  1. Contact your school’s registrar for your school’s policy on notarizing a diploma. Oftentimes, you must request the registrar meet with yourself and a notary to notarize the signature on the diploma.
  1. After you have notarized your diploma, you can mail them into a trusted document authenticating company (WCS…duh!) and let us take care of the rest.

*If your document needs to be notarized, find a notary near you—oftentimes, your banking institution may provide you of this service, or you can find a list of local notaries by state HERE.

*Some countries require that notarized, government-issued document need to be authenticated further through a certification of validity from the Office of the Secretary of State.

REMEMBER: Your diploma MUST be notarized, signed by your Registrar, and Apostilled from the same State the school is located in.

If you’re teaching in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, prepare to be met with strict requirements on degree authentication. You will need to follow additional steps and provide supplemental documentation.

Teaching abroad is going to be an amazing experience. Don’t get bogged down by the complexities of document authentication, contact us and let us handle the grunt work for you.

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The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention)

The Hague Adoption Convention is an international treaty that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents, who are involved in inter-country adoptions.

When adopting from a country that has signed the Hague Adoption Convention, there’s a process to follow, according to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS):

Hague Process for International Adoption:

1. Find a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider

2. Obtain a Home Study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study

3. Apply to USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for inter-country adoption. 

4. Once USCIS approves the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement.

It is important to note that all adoption organizations will require that you obtain either an Apostille or a Certification on all your relevant documents. If you are adopting from a country that is a part of the Hague Adoption Convention, it is likely that you will only need to obtain an Apostille. For countries not a part of the Hague Adoption Convention, your documents will require Certification through the means of Embassy Legalization.

To avoid any delays in this process, gather all the necessary legal documents.

Examples of Documents:

  • Criminal FBI Background Checks
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Decrees
  • Home Studies
  • Deed of the House (certified by the county)
  •  Baptism Certificates
  • Bank Accounts
  • Reference Letters

WCS: The Go To People for Document Authentication

WCS is located right next to Washington, D.C.! We have close access to the necessary government entities and embassies needed for authentication. With WCS on your side, we will handle your document authentication, whether you need an Apostille, or Embassy Legalization. As always, We work diligently to ensure your documents are authenticated appropriately with the correct stamps and certifications, and returned back to you, headache-free. Not sure what kind of authentication your document needs? Contact us today!

Apostille and Document Legalization Services

To Apostille or Not To Apostille—That REALLY is the question!

In our industry, some terms are used as if they are interchangeable. For example, “apostille” vs. “authentication.” However, when it comes to document apostille and/or legalization, using the proper term not only ensures clarity, it ensures that your documents will not be rejected by the Embassy before it even gets to the destination country.

Bottom Line: If you request an “apostille,” the regulatory agency is going to give you an apostille, even if that’s not what you need!

We often hear our clients ask for an “apostille” of a document. But what does “apostille” mean and when is it applicable to the document legalization process? And, when can using the term “apostille” incorrectly cause a problem?

Apostille Definition

First, what is an “apostille?” An apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document. The word “apostille” is a French origin and is derived from the old French word “postille” which means “annotation.” I am sure this is more than you needed to know.

In any event, all signatory countries to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents have agreed to accept an “apostilled” document from all other signatory countries. In the document legalization business, these are the “Hague” countries.

When You Use Apostille

So, if you need to use a non-federal document in a Hague Convention country, no problem. All Hague countries accept the apostille certification from all US states. So, just send the document to WCS and we can get the apostille from the Maryland Secretary of State (NOTE: However, all personal documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates must be apostilled in the state of origin).

What about Federal documents? If you need to use a Federal document in a Hague Convention country, just send the original document to WCS and we can get it apostilled at the U.S. Department of State. So far, so good.

When To Not Request An Apostille

Ah, but what if the destination country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention? These are the “Non-Hague” countries. Now things change. This time your document is going to be “authenticated”, which is a lot like an apostille, but is not an apostille.

So, here’s the problem. Many people mistakenly ask that their Non-Hague document get “apostilled.” Of course, if you make that request to us, we will alert you to the incorrect terminology. For Non-Hague countries, the document must go to the state Secretary of State before it gets “authenticated” from the U.S. State Department. But, if you send your document to your local Secretary of State (or use a service) and request an “apostille”, you will get exactly what you ask for. The Secretary of State will simply apostille the document and send it back to you. And, then when you send the incorrectly apostilled document to the U.S. State Department, it will be rejected.

Oh, and just to make it a bit more challenging…if your document is coming from California or Oregon, the Secretary of State will only apostille (not “authenticate”) the document, so you would be asking for an apostille from those 2 states irrespective of the destination country. The U.S. State Department makes exceptions for those 2 states!

Confused? Ok, we understand. Not Confused? Great. We could hire you!

Here’s a simple rule of thumb:

  1. If your document is going to a Hague convention country: We can get it apostilled for you!
  2. If your document is going to a Non-Hague convention country: We can get it authenticated for you!

Here’s a simpler rule of thumb: Just call us. We’ll make sure you only get an apostille when you need one!

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