Since one of the reasons I started this blog was to assist others on a similar journey, let’s discuss the process of authentication. This seems to be one of the most frustrating and drawn out parts of teaching abroad. So let me try to make it as understandable as possible.
Although I am preparing to work in Qatar, it seems a lot of the authentication process overlaps across the Middle East.
Your most recent college degree needs to be authenticated. You can use a copy, attach your transcript to it and notarize together. For Qatar, you also have to obtain a letter from the school on letterhead stating that the majority of your classes were taken in person instead of online. I attached this letter too. Then this needs to be attested at the state level, federal level and Embassy of the country you will be working. Get this done right away. Oddly, I did not have to get my teaching certification attested but I did have to present it.
You will need to obtain your State criminal history clearance. In PA, you can request this online at
but if you want it to come to you already notarized you can print the form, complete it, and mail it in with a $13.00 money order, like I did. It comes back pretty quickly too. Once you receive it notarized or get it notarized, then you will need to get it attested at the state level, federal level and Embassy of the country you will be working.
You will also need FBI clearances. Some people use a Channeler to get it done quicker; there is a list on the website. I would recommend to just go thru the FBI directly this way you know it’s correct and will be accepted.
The processing time directly through the FBI is long, approximately 12-14 weeks but once you get it, it doesn’t need to be notarized (at least mine did not) or attested by the state since it is not from the state. However, it will need to be authenticated at the federal level and at the Embassy of the country you will be working. Start this process right away
If you are married, your husband will also need state and FBI clearances authenticated. If you have children from a previous relationship, you may need additional information to sponsor them. For ADEC, you need a letter from the father stating that he is okay with you sponsoring them. For Qatar, a letter from my ex-husband did not suffice since we had a custody order. If you are in a similar situation, pay close attention to this part because this part was the most exasperating. You must get your custody order modified in court. For me this meant paying a fee, requesting a court date, talking to my ex-husband, waiting for the court date, going to court and getting a copy of the order signed by a judge. Then you have to get the Clerk of Common Pleas to certify, stamp and sign it. For Philadelphia, this was a separate court than family court and a separate fee, and I had to physically go to City Hall to get help on this matter. Once that is done, you have to get it attested at the state level, then federal and finally the Embassy of the country you will be working.
To obtain an Apostille or Certification at the state level in PA, it needs to be done through the PA Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation in Harrisburg. There is a $15.00 per document fee. You can mail it to Harrisburg or walk in and have it taken care of right away. They are pretty efficient. Here is what the first attestation looks like:
The U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications accepts requests via mail in, walk in and appointments. They are located in Washington, D.C. The fee is $8.00 per document. Appointments are only for emergencies and walk ins can leave documents and pick them back up completed approximately 3 days later. Here is what it looks like at this level:
The last factor in the authentication process is at the Embassy of the country you will be working. Qatar has three Embassies in the USA, one in NY, Washington and Texas. Which embassy you will need to send your documents for authentication depends on where your documents originated. For instance, my degree, state criminal clearance and custody modification order would go to the Qatar Embassy in NY but my federal clearances would got to the one in Washington.
I completed my state Apostilles on my own, since Harrisburg is a short 2 hour drive away and they completed them on the spot, except for that one time I mailed my custody modification but it wasn’t right so they sent it right back. Once it was corrected I took it up there myself. For the U.S. Dept. of State and Qatar Embassy authentications, I used a company to take care of it for me. This way I didn’t have to drive all over the east coast. Many people opt to DIY to save money but not me. I would have spent money on gas, tolls, food, probably hotel stay. I also avoided a lot of added stress by paying the company to do this for me. The company I used was PROEX.
Cindy is very helpful. It wasn’t cheap but necessary. Both times I sent documents to PROEX, I sent three each and it cost me roughly $300 both times.
So that’s how you get documents authenticated. The weird thing about authentications is, it doesn’t prove that the document is really from a certain place or is even legit. It seems to just confirm the notary before. I hope this post helps.