Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Step 3: Documentation before you leave (for your Vietnamese Work Permit)

Step 3.

The Chain of Authentication

Your documents should bear this woman's signature (and visit the Vietnamese Consulate/Embassy) before you leave.

When you've decided to pull the trigger and come here, give yourself a good 2-3 months to get your paperwork together. Please do not skip this step or any of the sub-steps here. This is key to eventually thriving here with as few hassles as possible.
  1.  Get your degree notarized. You may get an official copy notarized. I'm not talking about xeroxing it. Ask your school to make an official copy.
  2. Do your police check and get it notarized there.  Go to your State Department of Public Safety or equivalent.  Not FBI, not local police, not Deputy Dog.  Your State Department of Public Safety or equivalent. 
  3. If you have a CELTA or similar, get it notarized.
  4. Authenticate (not apostille) all these at your state's Department of State.  Here is a list of all US States' Departments of States and Offices of Vital Statistics. They will authenticate the local  notarization you already got. Tell them it's for Vietnam and they will do the correct thing. Vietnam is not a Hague country and therefore the apostille thing is no good here (sorry Japan/Korea teachers; you'll need to get this done). Your University may be able to do this for your diploma. Note: your University may be able to do this (notarize and authenticate) for your diploma.  Mine did.  It saved me mailing and time to Illinois and back.
  5. Once all this is authenticated at the State level, send it all to Washington D.C. and the US Department of State Authentication Unit. They will authenticate the State's authentication of the notarization.$8/document.  Good news!  This is no longer necessary.  Paperwork goes straight from the State level to the Vietnam Embassy or Consulate (See step 6).
  6. When you get that back, send all of it for authentication and translation to either the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington D.C. or the Vietnamese Consulate in San Francisco. $50/per document plus optional $20 to expedite it (though the $20 isn't necessary if you can wait a few days).  I'm now seeing if you can do this in Houston as well.  
  7. Put all this in an envelop and guard it with your life. Remember to take it with you when you come here.
Review: this is the correct terminology and procedure for the Chain of Authentication:
  1. Notarized at the local level. 
  2. Authenticated at the State level. 
  3. Authenticated at the National level. 
  4. Legalized at the Embassy/Consulate. 
Do all of it and do it in that order, no matter what you hear, read, or imagine.  If you don't send your stuff to the Vietnamese Consulate/Embassy, for example, after you get them back from the US State Department, you'll have to FedEx them once you get here, spending more money and risking losing them in the process.  

Addition: (12/7/10): a reader (in the comments below;  asks:

Now what should you do if you've just graduated from university and your diploma won't be mailed to you until after you've already arrived in Vietnam? Could you essentially just have the official diploma mailed to you in Vietnam and get it notorized in the consulate? 

You'll either have to a. use an agent for about $1000 or b. use DHL (or traveling friends) to do all the steps in the States.  I assume you're from the US. The agent, a, will essentially use your money to do b.  There is no more "consularization" of diplomas because a lot of bogus diplomas were getting through.  I know this because I had to do it. I tried all the tricks, after having talked to a lot of people, but the way things are (and shall remain, I strongly believe) you have to follow the chain of authentication, be it from home or abroad. Luckily, the management of the company I worked for made frequent trips to the US and I was able to save the DHL fees. 

Treat the steps as unalterable law.

Bookmark this post.  Love it long time -- until you get it all done.  

Now, on to the 7 steps and  Get your Vietnam Visa.

23 comments:

  1. Now what should you do if you've just graduated from university and your diploma won't be mailed to you until after you've already arrived in Vietnam? Could you essentially just have the official diploma mailed to you in Vietnam and get it notorized in the consulate?

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  2. how would one go about getting the police check done from abroad? i am a usa citizen but have had eu residency for the last 4 years and rarely return to the states.

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  3. For the diploma, you're going to have to use DHL or a friend traveling to and fro. Make sure the University notarizes (and in most cases, authenticates it at the state level). For the police check, a. bring a police check from where you've been in Europe, b. get a power of attorney for someone in the States, c. fly to the US or d. live here 6 months and get a local.

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    1. I am obtaining a notarized copy of my transcript from my BEd at Univ of Hawaii. Is that enough or will I need to notarize the actual diploma? If so how does one do this. Do you just make a statement on a separate sheet with words like "I certify that this is a true and correct copy of my original diploma." and have that notarized. My diploma is nearly 40 years old. Same applies for my TESL diploma from Oxford. They refuse to provide notarized documentation which is a big negative that i wish I had known before I took the course.

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  4. Can anyone confirm that an FBI check won't work? I'm currently in Korea and I want to go to Vietnam next but I don't want to have to fly home just to fill out some paperwork and the FBI check is a bit easier to get done I think...

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  5. Does the criminal background check have to be authenticated just like the degree and certificate?

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  6. Vietnam has a Consulate in Houston, will they legalize documents? Does Vietnam need official transcripts?

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  7. how many does does the DC authentication usually take? It's almost the end of the 4th week and I havent gotten anything back yet!!

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  8. I just got my documents back from the State Department in D.C., it took exactly 4 weeks even though they say on the website only 15 business days. Now I have to do it all over with the Vietnamese translation...

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  9. @David - the FBI check is NOT easier to get done. You're looking at 3 months with that one. The police report is far easier / faster, a breath of fresh air. For me, I got fingerprinted at my local police station then filled this out for Washington: https://fortress.wa.gov/wsp/watch/Help?Index=forms (click the link on the bottom for fingerprint notary request form.) Will be different for your State, but just to give you an idea... fingerprints are done instantly, and one-two weeks max for the police report to get back to you notarized.

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  10. This is a great post, very helpful. I was going cross-eyed reading various interpretations of the law on expat forums.

    I do have a question regarding translation. The VN gov't decree of 2003 (No. 105-2003-ND-CP) stipulates that everything be translated into Vietnamese. Is this included in the $50 fee collected by the Vietnamese embassy/consulate?

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  11. Great article!! Thank you so much for the clear and distinct directions to make the transition to Vietnam much easier! One quick clarification if I may... in Step 6 you mention sending all notarized and authenticated documents to the the Vietnamese consulate/embassy; then, in Step 7, you mention to guard all documents with our lives and take them with us. Just to clarify, do I get the documents back from the Vietnamese consulate/embassy? If so, how long would you anticipate this would take (is it a "few days" as you mentioned in one of the sentences)? I just wanted to confirm that I understood your article correctly.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jim

    P.S. your blog is awesome. I've come to rely on your blog as the best source of information as I prepare for my move to Vietnam. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences to help others!!!!!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks much. Yes you do. It's pretty fast, actually.

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  12. The website for the Consulate in SF seems to indicate that they only require State-level authentication for document legalization. Just wondering if step 3 is necessary; isn't legalization the ultimate goal? http://www.vietnamconsulate-sf.org/en/consular-services/legal-of-us-document/

    Great blog, thanks for all the info and advice.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Step 3 is necessary. No step 3, no work permit. And, btw, some people think that they can skip it and have the US consulate (in HCMC) or the US Embassy (in Hanoi) do it. Nope. Get it done exactly as read here. You're welcome -- good luck.

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  13. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for sharing such a good source with all, i appreciate your efforts taken for the same. I found this worth sharing and must share this with all.
    Apostille Authentication

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  14. I am an American about to teach in Vietnam. However my diploma will not arrive until after I depart. How should I go about authenticating my diploma from abroad. As you say the consulates in HCMC and Hanoi do not notarize diplomas. It is possible to authenticate documents while you are abroad? If so how?

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    Replies
    1. Anna, I "believe" they changed the law to state that you can get this done at the American Consulate here in HCMC. However, I'm not sure.

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    2. Notice that I changed step 5 above -- a few months ago, actually. I've heard nothing to the contrary since then, so, depending on your employer's HR department, it should be alright.

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  15. Does one clarify that you need translation when you send your documents to the embassy?

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