Authentication Revisited

Part of the deal with working here in the UAE was getting a whole slew of documents authenticated.  The authentication process is annoying and overcomplicated, but it is necessary.  So I bit the bullet and did it.

If you go through a company like Teach Away, they’ll help walk you through the process.  It’s not really all that difficult, in truth, just annoying.

Teach Away recommends ProEx Courier Service to deliver and pickup documents from the Embassy in DC.  I used them and had no issues at all; they were fast and efficient.

As far as the individual documents go that you’ll need authenticated, that depends on where you’re from and whether you’re married, have children, etc.  We needed our marriage certificate done, my highest diploma, and a couple other things.  I covered all that before, so I won’t go into it in detail.  The irritating part is doing it at three levels, which is where ProEx enters the scene–they’ll deliver documents from the Department of State in DC to the UAE Embassy there, saving you a long trip and a few days in between.

Do the authentication early so it’ll be stress-free, and then just wait.

Once arriving in the UAE, you have to get those authenticated documents translated into Arabic.  Bargain, or ask around for the best rate.  The place that ADEC uses (Infinity Services) actually increases their fee for ADEC teachers.  If you arrive in Abu Dhabi and take documents to them, be sure not to tell them you’re with ADEC.  If you do, they’ll say, “Special price!”  Yeah, special, alright.  We have “sucker” written all over us.  It shouldn’t cost more than 60 AED for documents to be interpreted, so be aware.  There are plenty of “typing offices” that will interpret for the price I mentioned.

When you get your documents interpreted in the UAE, also have your driver’s license done.  If you’ve got any special endorsements, such as motorcycle, be sure to note that and ask that they include that in the translation, or else you won’t get that endorsement on your UAE license (which is good for a full 10 years, by the way).

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Authentication Complete

Check it out–my documents arrived from ProEx!  This is a good day!

I’ve scanned copies of each sheet, including the stamps from the UAE embassy, and e-mailed them to Teach Away. Furnished with these documents, Teach Away will now work with ADEC to get visas and such underway.

For the time being, these documents are safely in an envelope on my office shelf.  When I leave, I’ll take the authenticated documents as well as originals.

This hurdle jumped, we can now return to waiting for more information on departure dates, etc., etc.

The Authentication Process

I’ve mentioned document authentication before.  It’s a simple enough concept: in order to work in the UAE, a person has to have certain documents.  The folks at the UAE Embassy want to know that your documents are legitimate.  So we have to go through a process of authenticating several documents.  Here’s how it’s done.

The exact number of documents a person needs for work visa purposes could vary.  In my case, I have three to submit: a copy of my teaching certificate, a copy of my highest degree, and my marriage certificate.  Because anyone with computer access can make a document that looks pretty realistic these days, each of my copies has to be certified by a notary.

So step one: The notary took a look at my originals, and then after I made photocopies, she stamped them, included the words “copy of original” and, of course, signed and dated them.  This is pretty easy.  There are variations of this that work fine, too.  This happens to be what my Secretary of State’s office said to do.

Step two: take these copies over to the county clerk of superior court and have him or her print a statement that your notary is, in fact, a real, honest-to-goodness notary, and sign and date this statement.  I needed three of these–one for each document.

Step three: mail or hand-deliver your copies and statements, along with a check for $10 each, to the Secretary of State (in Atlanta for me).  The SOS office then staples everything together, along with another statement bearing the state’s Great Seal, which basically certifies that everything you’ve assembled thus far is legitimate.

Step Three and a Half: decide whether to use a delivery service such as ProEx, or to mail your documents directly to the State Department.  If you elect to send them direclty to the State Department, you’ll save some money ($125), but you’ll elongate the process by a couple of weeks.  I went with ProEx, since I’m dealing with time constraints.

Step four: Put everything together, along with copies of each packet and a money order to cover all services, as well as prepaid return shipping, and send it to ProEx in Washington, DC.  They’ll take care of the remaining steps–both delivery to the State Department and the UAE Embassy.

When everything returns from DC, it should be certified and stamped in all the necessary ways to allow you to work in the UAE.  I hope to have mine back next week about this time.

Money Monday

Well, it’s time for Money Monday.  Yup, I figured anyone interested in traveling or working or living in Abu Dhabi is probably curious about what the proposition costs.  So here we go: today I spent more money than ever before at the Post Office.

Yup, I got my documents back from Atlanta, and turned around a put them in the mail to DC, along with a money order for $239.  The money order covers the cost of document authentication at the State Department and at the Embassy of the UAE.  It also covers a $125 fee for ProEx Delivery Corporation.  Their fee isn’t cheap, but it does expedite the whole process.  I’ll tell you more about ProEx another time.  Anyway, with priority shipping to and from DC, and the money order, I spent $251 at the Cuthbert Post Office today.

Thus far, the authentication process has cost me $30 at the Secretary of State’s office, too, plus shipping to and from Atlanta (which has to be included twice, because they sent it back once and I had to reship it–another $7) at $14, and the total comes to $295.

My next post will discuss the authentication process.  Alright, enough of Money Monday.  Sleep well.

First Fail

Well, actually, it’s not a failure, really, it’s a minor setback.  My documents came back from the SOS in Atlanta today–and lo and behold, they didn’t need a notarized copy of my marriage certificate, they needed the original.  Lo and behold, the SOS website says as much, but I was too hurried to pay it careful enough attention.  Still, I called the SOS office to be sure I had everything done correctly before I mailed it, and I said, “I have copies of my degree, my teaching certificate, and my marriage certificate, all notarized, and a statement from the local Clerk of Court for all of them.  Does this sound right?”  The reply was, “Yes.”  So I figured I’d be good, right?  I mean, I confirmed everything with the very office I was mailing these things to.  I almost included the original marriage certificate when I mailed everything, just to be on the safe side, but then I decided against it.  Silly me.  Now I’m set back about a week. The extra week wouldn’t really matter, but Teach Away has decided to bump the “due date” for finalized documents up to May 9 (a deadline which I can’t possibly make, even if everything is expedited).  So there is a certain stress factor, but I’m determined not to worry inordinately about it.  Things will progress as quickly as possible, and that’s just the way it is.

Heck, I might just drive up there one day next week and hand-deliver everything in Atlanta.  Sure, it’ll cost me $50 in gas, but at least it’ll be done instantly and I can move on.  Or I could just pay another $7.00 and use the postal service.  Comparing numbers makes the post office look pretty good.  Yeah, I’ll probably just mail it all.