Getting an Apostille Seal for South Korea

Yesterday and today I had adventures in getting an Apostille seal for South Korea. It’s pronounced: A pos steel, with the accent on the second part of the word. Yup. I embarrassed myself by pronouncing it incorrectly several times.

Anyway, this is part of the paperwork needed for a visa to teach in South Korea.  I followed my directions sent to me from Footprints recruiting. Sounded easy enough. Get your degree. Make a copy of the degree. Get the degree notarized. Take the notarized copy to the nearest Apostille for a stamp. The instructions were the same for the criminal background check, but Footprints recommended that a notary in the police department notarize the criminal background report. The directions sounded easy, but it took me two days and a lot of drama to carry them out! Here’s what happened:

Adventures in Getting an Apostille Seal

  1. I called the Apostille Office in the Secretary of State Department and verified the address. I put the address into the GPS on my phone because I am directionally challenged.
  2. I withdrew money from the ATM. I knew that it would cost something to get the paperwork notarized
  3. I went to get my criminal background check from the Sheriff’s department in my town. Oddly enough I didn’t have to get fingerprinted. I just filled out a simple form and they ran a report. I had no record. I asked that the form that I filled out, stating that I had no record be notarized. The lady behind the glass notarized the form and I was out.
  4. Next, I went to the UPS store to make a copy of my degree and get that notarized. I explained that I was going to Korea and that I needed the notary to state that the degree was a true copy. The notary made my copy for me. She makes copies in the UPS store as well as is a notary.
  5. I drove about an hour to get to the nearest Apostille. Thank God that the GPS was working!
  6. I get to the Apostille at 4:03 p.m. Dang, but there was a sign saying that the Apostille does not work after 4 p.m. I looked worried and maybe like a sad dog, and the receptionist said the the Apostille will see me.

I was too happy, and showed her my forms. Homegirl glanced at them and said that they were DONE ALL WRONG.

The woman in the Sheriff’s department who ran the criminal background check should not have notarized the form. A different notary in the police department should have done that. Sorry, but my directions didn’t say anything about that! At this point, I’m annoyed but still smiling.

Secondly, the notary at the UPS store should have written a statement saying that the degree was a true copy. She only notarized and signed the copy. I was still smiling, but I was not really amused AT ALL. The Apostille  gave me two forms to complete with the notary. One form verified that the degree was a true copy. The second form verified that the criminal background check was authentic. The Apostille was about the haul #$@! so I had no choice but to make the corrections and try again the next day.

So, today. I go back to the UPS notary and have her complete the forms. She apologizes profusely, but I just really wanted her to make the corrections and let me go out on my way. I appreciated the apology, though.

Fast forward… an hour later…

I get to the Apostille, and homegirl glances at the paperwork and says that it’s STILL WRONG!  The notary’s stamp had her inital in it, but when the Apostille tried to look her up in the computer she could not find the notary. Her name did not have an initial in the computer. So. you guessed it. I have to get the paperwork notarized again. This time, I go to a nearby bank, and explain the the manager, who was a notary, what I was trying to do. He takes me in his office and completes the forms; the Apostille gave me new forms. I was so nervous that I made an error on one of the forms, I wrote the incorrect county and I was so afraid to cross something out on the paperwork that I called the Apostille’s office and asked what to do. The guy who answered the phone was irked. He said, ugh… cross it out. Draw a line through it. I felt like a big dummy, but I didn’t want that Apostille to send me back again because I marked something out on the form.

Anyway… this time it was all good. I got my Apostille seals for South Korea and whatnot. Oh, and I have my interview with the public school system tomorrow. I hope that I do well, but in either case, I will do what I need to do to get that visa to teach in South Korea.


  • Just FYI,

    There are apostille service agency to save you the headaches. They get it done right the first time and FedEx to your door, so you can start packing to teach in South Korea.

    Have fun in South Korea, Try Korean BBQ Chicken.

  • admin

    Now that chicken sounds good!

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  • tasha

    wow! I’m gping to South Korea, and I’m running around to get my background check and everything, sadly I had to get fingerprinted:( Hopefullly I did everything right.

  • Ugh, what a nightmare. The key in getting an apostille is making sure that notary and affidavit is done correctly. You do not have to hire a service (for $200 per document) but armed with some knowledge, you should be successful if you just know the rules. Speaking of which, after going through similar trials getting an apostille myself, I wrote a guide book on it. Apostille Guide

  • Ashley

    I am going through the process of collecting my documents for EPIK right now too. I am having problems with the criminal record check. I called my police department and they said I had to go through the department of justice but their website says they do a background check and send it to the requesting agency (EPIK) but obviously thats not what EPIK wants! Do you think the police dept operator just didn’t know what I was talking about/didn’t care? Also I’m kind of confused because your police dept/sheriff can only vouch for your record in their area so is that good enough for epik? What if hypothetically i had a record in another state or something (i dont of course), but wouldn’t that matter? Sorry this is long but I’m a little frustrated. Since we are going through the same process any sugesstion/help would be SO appreciated!

  • Lex

    Sounds like a bit of a headache! I’m preparing my documents for Korea at the moment too, & found your blog searching for apostille-related things. I’m in England, & the process here seems to be much less face-to-face. We just do a lot of waiting instead. The criminal check took about a month through the post & there’s only one apostille place in the whole country, so it’s all “Send away x with £xx, wait.” It’s not good for motivation! So, here i am, waiting… la la la.
    Have a great time!

  • admin

    @Lex I live close to the capital, at least close enough to drive there and back no problem, so it’s faster for me to just go there.

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  • Sometimes it is a hard headache doing all this things.

    Apostille info

    Apostille info’s last blog post..Sotomayor pledges ‘fidelity to the law’

  • KM

    You can use services of Authxperts dot com for your apostille needs. They are in Washington DC metro area and are highly professional and offer unbeatable service at unbeatable rates.

  • Should there be a place to get apostilled in every state? I a bit confused in where to find who could apostille my background check. (i hope to teach in busan by Nov.) thx

  • admin

    Apostilles are not located in every state. Try this list of apostilles. If the apostille is located in a state that is different from yours you can either mail your info to them, but call them first, or you can go there in person. Plan a road trip! Keep in mind, that you will probably need to drive back there to get your visa. I hope this helps!

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  • Greg

    Just wondering … I taught in S. Korea before, and still have my Korean ID Alien card somewhere … do I grandfather into the no background check?

    What happens if someone was arrested before but the charges were dropped as it was a false arrest? What exactly does “clean background” mean to the Ministry in S. Korea?

  • I am pretty sure that you will need another current background check, because you have to get a new visa. I don’t know what happens if you were arrested before and the case was dropped. A clean background, I think, means no charges including DUI (that’s what I remember reading somewhere). You should find a recruiter and ask about that.

  • Lucy

    Hello. I’m confused. I taught at a summer camp in Korea just this past July 2009 and now by November 2009 for a winter camp, the rules have some what changed! The background check has to be state-level and Apostilled, so what I want to know is does the background check need to be notarized before it’s Apostilled???

    Also, on a side bar in my attempts to save money… Technically speaking, would the Korean Consulate accept a notarized copy of the original background check and then have that one Apostilled? I guess I just want to keep the original background check to myself, but it’s not a big deal. Just curious.

    Thanks and how is EPIK? I’ve heard some mixed reviews about them…

  • Lucy,

    I really don’t remember unless I stated the information somewhere in this post. I’m not sure if I got the background check notarized. If I did, the notary was there in the police station, and that’s definitely possible. Right now, I don’t like EPIK, but that’s because EPIK seems to have little power over how the school treats you when you get here. You will get paid on time, and you are more likely to keep your job without worrying about the school closing, but you may be in a situation in which you have a poor work experience. EPIK doesn’t seem to do much unless the school breaks the contract (which is liberal and beneficial to the school’s side).

  • I’ve been teaching in South Korea for three years so here’s the deal: If you leave South Korea at any time for any reason, such as vacationing in Japan, then you will need a new criminal background check for your next contract. 2) If you do not leave South Korea then your file can be transferred BUT everyone, as of 9.1.2010, must provide an apostille stamped diploma copy. The original is no longer accepted as the final law. Once you supply the copy then you’re fine. It is annoying, very , very annoying but there have been enough fake degrees leaked through that we all must suffer. Sigh.

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