How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program

This is a follow-up to Eve’s FAQs about teaching English in Spain in order to answer some questions about the FBI Background Check. Applying for this document can be confusing, so this should clarify things a bit.

Disclaimer: Last year I figured out this process through trial and error. Hopefully the following steps will work for you too, but I can’t make any guarantees since there may be some variation with the different consulates. So, as they like to say in the program manual: when in doubt, check with your consulate.

And now for the FAQs:

When should I apply for the FBI Background Check?

Now. It can take up to 13 weeks for the background check to arrive and another 4 weeks to get the Apostille. Pay attention to detail in this process. If you make a mistake it will cost you even more time as you’ll have to resend things and wait.

How do I apply?

  1. Follow the steps listed on the FBI website:
    1. Complete the Applicant Information Form (pdf).
    2. Obtain a set of your fingerprints on a standard fingerprint form (FD-258).
    3. Obtain a money order or cashiers check for $18 (U.S.) made payable to the Treasury of the United States.
    4. Mail the documents in (certified mail like FedEx is recommended):
      1. FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
        1000 Custer Hollow Road
        Clarksburg, WV 26306
  2. IMPORTANT: On a sticky note, write that you need the FBI Certificate “Authenticated” in order to get the Apostille. If you do not do this, the FBI Report may not come back NOTARIZED, which is NECESSARY for the Apostille. (This is where I and many people have made a mistake.)
    1. If you’ve already sent your FBI form without explaining that it needs to be authenticated, call the number on their web site: 202-324-3000. They are friendly on the phone and the hold time is only 5 minutes.
    2. If you get the FBI report back and it is not notarized, you’ll have to send it back to them and wait another 2 weeks.

I have my FBI Background Check now. How do I get the Apostille?

  1. Follow the steps listed on the Department of State (Federal) Website.
    1. Complete the cover letter (pdf).
    2. Obtain a money order or cashiers check for $8 (U.S.) made payable to the U.S. Department of State.
    3. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope for faster return of your documents.
    4. Mail the documents (certified mail like FedEx is recommended):
      1. U.S. Department of State
        Authentications Office
        518 23rd Street NW.
        Washington, DC 20520

Good luck! If you have other questions about the teaching program or application process, feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to write another post.

Update: If you live in the DC area you can get a walk-in Apostille instead of mailing in for one. Eve explains in this post.

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181 Responses to How to Get the FBI Background Check and Apostille for Auxiliares Program

  1. avatar Jessica says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for all of that info. I did not know about having to get anything notarized or this ‘Apostille’ business. Where does is this information given? In the manuel? If so I missed it completely. Thanks again!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Jessica, the info is on page 37 of the updated manual on the auxiliar web page. The pdf says that applicants should check with individual consulates to confirm whether the apostille for the fbi certificate is necessary. Good luck!

      • avatar Lily says:

        I have a few doubts with this. Does the fbi background check needs to be notarized and have those apostilles for Spain? or is it just for the state visa process? Thanks a lot for the info!

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          Hi Lily,
          It seems like each consulate varies in the requirements needed to obtain the student Visa. If you are applying for a Visa, I recommend contacting the consulate that will be issuing the Visa to ask whether the FBI background check needs to be notarized or have the apostille.

          • avatar Lily says:

            Hello Ben,
            thanks for answering. The thing is that I contacted them and I don’t even need the background check, just a “certificate of good conduct” but im worried I might need it for Spain, in that case I would need another one because mine is not notarized. Hope not! Thanks again for your help. 🙂

          • avatar Danielle C says:

            Hi Ben, this reply is helpful for me too, thank you.
            I found out too late that my background check (which I got done right away in order to be prepared) needed to be notarized. But because it’s been over 90 days since the first check, I need to send in a second application and cross my fingers. But I will contact my consulate to find out if I need the authentication and apostille to start the visa.

            I’m getting worried because I’m still waiting for my placement letter for teaching in the region of Madrid… I got accepted back in late March and accepted right away, but still waiting (along with another friend)… I remember tardy paperwork as a classic “Spain-ism,” so trying not to worry! Any advice?

          • avatar Ben Raznick says:

            Hi Danielle,
            That’s unfortunate to hear about having to complete a second background check. The details to this process are tricky, but it sounds like you’ve got it all worked out. As far as waiting for the placement letter, last summer I didn’t receive mine until July, so don’t worry! As long as you have all your paperwork ready to go, then as soon as you get your placement letter you can ship it all to the consulate and the Visa will get done in time. (Although I hope you get the letter sooner than later!)

      • avatar christine says:

        so…just to be clear…my background check has a seal and is signed by an official. it doesn’t appear “notarized” is this the correct way it should be for me to send it to the state department?

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          If the background check has a seal and signature, then it sounds to me like it was “authenticated”/”notarized” so I would say yes.

          • avatar Colleen says:

            Yes, Ben’s correct. I had the same situation and I just called the FBI customer service group this afternoon, they said the signature and seal, although I didn’t explicitly request them, count for the authorization we need. Whew! 🙂

  2. avatar Laura says:

    So if we send in our FBI background check and get it signed and authorized by the Department of State, then we have our apostille? I am so confused by this process! I was reading on my state website (PA) that we have to have the document notarized by someone in the state and then send it into the state department to get an official apostille from the state. Do we need to do this or will the seal given by the US department of state be sufficient?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Laura,
      In my experience, yes, sending the FBI background check to the Department of State was the official process to receive the apostille. As far as the notarization question, it is a complicated matter for the following reason: The FBI background check cannot be authenticated (notarized) by anybody except the FBI who issued it. Therefore, as you had mentioned, when the FBI background check comes back notarized, the notary therefore is not from your own state which is why you can’t get the apostille from your own individual state department. Because of this, the only way to get the apostille (as far as I know) is to send it to the national Department of State office. Very confusing I know! Hope that answers your question, Ben

      • avatar HAMolina says:

        I needed the FBI background, my university degree, and a few other things Apostilled for South Korea. The worker at the Georgia State Department explained that a document with a federal agency authentication like the FBI needs to be Apostilled by the Department of State in D.C. All other documents which are notarized in your home state can be apostilled by that states office, which hold a record of all of its notaries signatures.


  3. avatar rosalyn says:

    so now what do i do if it is april…my fbi check doesn’t have the apostille…is it too late to send to the fbi? also my 90 days are close. i got it notarized…i think now i have to go to the county and the state 🙁

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      If you have the FBI certificate notarized, then the next step is to send it to the Department of State Website listed above. Do it as soon as possible and hopefully it will come back in time.

  4. avatar Abdul says:

    I have got my FBI BC Check with a seal and signature, I had requested this for my Belgium Visa and Work Permit. I have sent it for Apostille as well. However, I just got to know that for Belgium I need 2 copies of this document. One to apply for Visa and second one to register with local authorities post travel to Belgium. Would you know what’s the process for getting a second copy? Will I have to go through the entire process? or is it possible to request for a copy directly? Also can i get a photocopy and have it apostilled?. Please help this is so so urgent… and Thanks a ton!!!!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Unfortunately I don’t know anything about obtaining a second copy. However, I do know you can take a copy of anything and get the copy notarized. On the other hand, when I applied for my Visa, I included a note to the consulate asking to please return my FBI report document with my Visa for the similar need to be able to extend my visa upon arrival in Spain. They did return it to me. This may be your best bet.
      Good luck!

  5. avatar Allie says:

    SO I did not know to ask for my FBI background check to be authenticated with the seal and stamp, now I was trying to get the apostille and realized I could not because of this. It is also 90 days after
    So I was thinking I had to re do the background check and wait the 4 weeks or so this would take, then wait to get apostille after.
    Is there a way to get my FBI background check notarized or authenticated without redoing my background check??

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Allie,
      Yes, there is a way to get the original FBI background check authenticated. From my experience, I was able to send my original FBI background check back to their office and they returned it to me authenticated. I recommend calling their office at 202-324-3000 to confirm this and to ask for the exact address it needs to be sent back to.

  6. avatar Lauren says:

    Do I need to send in a copy or the original of my FBI background check with my Apostille cover letter?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Are you sending the FBI background check with the Apostille to a consulate to get your Spanish Visa? In this case, yes, you will need to send the original.

      • avatar Lauren says:

        I’m just wondering about exactly what I need to send to the Department of State along with my Apostille Cover Letter and $8 check before I go for my Visa interview.

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          Hi Lauren, to get the Apostille from the State Department, send your original FBI background check along with what you mentioned: The Apostille Cover Letter, $8 money order, and the self-addressed and stamped envelope and you will be all set. Additional details can be found on the State Department webpage.

          • avatar Lauren says:

            Thanks Ben. Just one last question (hopefully). Will they return my original FBI background check to me or should I send a copy? I know that I need the background check for my visa interview as well.

          • avatar Ben Raznick says:

            Hi Lauren,
            Yes, the State Department will return your original FBI background check with the Apostille certification, so then you will be all set for your Visa interview.

  7. avatar Fritz says:

    Hi Laura,

    Here’s another thanks for all the information. I have two questions that you might be able to address if you don’t mind: 1) Is the Apostille required of EU citizens? I know the FBI background check isn’t, but 2) does whatever document an EU citizen gets to verify their lack of criminal record have to be notarized (e.g. police background check), or is this just a North American citizen requirement?

    Thanks a lot,


    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Fritz,
      Unfortunately I don’t know anything about the requirements for EU citizens. However, if you discover any answers, feel free to post here!

  8. Pingback: How to Renew your NIE for Second-Year Auxiliares |

  9. avatar Henry Garcia says:

    I just called the Customer Service Section at the Biometric Services Section and they informed me since the certificate is over 90 days, I would have to send a new application and request to authenticate the certificate.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Henry,
      It sounds like Danielle, another person who commented on this blog post, is in the same boat. She also said that after 90 days, her original certificate couldn’t be authenticated. Not the best of news, but if you’re applying for your Spanish Visa, if you start the process again now, you should have enough time.

  10. avatar Zachary Mirman says:

    I know this is not totally relevant, but you seem to know your stuff, so I’ll ask here anyway…. Applying for Visa question: my consulate’s webpage says that the medical certificate and FBI background check must be issued within 3 months of applying for the Visa… but we all got the medical certificate and FBI background check done in fall of 2010 or in early 2011 to APPLY for the grant! So are our medical and FBI background certificates out of date already?!?!? I can’t imagine that this could be the case, but I’m worried now… anyone know what’s the deal on this issue? Thanks!

  11. avatar Zachary Mirman says:

    nevermind…. just saw that on the website that they sent us in an email, we can use the same medical certificate and fbi check…. my bad!

    • avatar Jayden says:

      So both, my medical certificate and my background check NON AUTHENTICATED are over 90 days…. From my understanding if its non authenticated, I have to re-do the entire fingerprint application all over again yeah?? Ugh that totally sucks if that’s the case.

      • avatar Ben Raznick says:

        Unfortunately, it seems like this is the case. However, if anybody knows otherwise, please post here!

    • avatar annie says:

      Hey Ben,

      You wrote: “From my experience, I was able to send my original FBI background check back to their office and they returned it to me authenticated.” This sounds ideal, as opposed to doing the whole process again. However, my background check is over 90 days old (it must be more recent than that to get a visa) so is the right move just to reapply for the background check, as opposed to getting my old one authenticated?

      • avatar Ben Raznick says:

        Hi Annie,
        From what I’m understanding with others in this situation, the FBI won’t authenticate a background check that is older than 90 days old. So it appears that you will need to reapply.

  12. avatar Nadia says:


    I have a question regarding the US Department of State. I have completed all the necessary steps and mailed my FBI Background check to the US Department of State about 22 business days ago. They say that it would take them 15 business days, but obviously I haven’t received my FBI background check from them yet. Does anyone with experience know the general time frame for the US Department of State to return documents? I’m very very worried because next week it will be 90 days since I got my background check and I don’t know if I have time to go through the steps of getting a second one since my program in Spain starts the beginning of September.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Nadia,
      Did your FBI background check come back from the State Department yet?

      • avatar Nadia says:

        No it has not, which really worries me. I actually went to my State Senator’s office the other day and he sent in a fax representing me inquiring as to when I should be getting it back. I’m hoping for a response by the end of this week. I’m honestly very confused about this slow response and beginning to wonder if they ever even got it in the mail, or if it got lost somehow.

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          Hi Nadia, any updates? It sounds like other auxiliares are waiting extra time for the Apostille to come through. How long did it officially take for yours to come through?

    • avatar Colleen says:

      I am worried about the same problem! I just read on the Office of Authentication website that it can take 4 weeks (or more if you use U.S. mail to send the background check) to get the background check with the Apostille back. I’m still waiting on mine. Anyone have experience on how long it took to get theirs back? Can’t really make a visa appt. ’til I do.

      • avatar Eve Richer says:

        Hi Colleen, I’m not sure how long it will take, but I am still waiting for mine. I sent it in as soon as I got back to the US, which was about 2 weeks ago.

  13. avatar Catherine says:

    I have a question as well! I got my background check awhile ago and had to send it back in recently to get the apostille. When I get it back does it get an extended 90 days of validity? I’ll be applying for my visa in August so maybe I should just reapply for another just in case?

    And are we sure that we can use the same medical forms/certificate we used to apply? Despite the fact that they are over 90 days old? Muchas gracias for any help!!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Catherine,
      I don’t think the FBI background check is extended 90 days in validity by getting the apostille, but I am not 100% sure. I am also not sure how recent the doctors forms need to be either, so if anybody else knows, feel free to comment!

    • avatar Hannah says:

      Where did you send your stuff for your apostille. Also what documents did you send along with it?
      I’m so confused! Yikes!

  14. avatar Brian says:

    This blog has some excellent information. If I could start the process over, I would have driven from my home in Texas to West Virginia. (1300 miles) . The next day I would have driven to the US State Department in Washington D.C. to have it apostilled. I could have had it all completed in two days. It is strange how some states will apostille (authenicate) the national background check while others won’t. I do not believe state departments from individual states are allowed to authenicate a federal document. I know most of the entries here are from folks outside the U.S. so visiting West Virginia and then Washington D.C. is out of the question.

  15. avatar Hannah says:

    I just wanted to be sure that I still have a chance to get to Spain if I have to re-do my FBI background check and get the apostille if I send it out tomorrow. I’m going through Chicago and they told me as long as I come to pick up my visa with my new FBI background check and apostille, then I should be okay.

    What do you think? Do I still have a chance to get to Spain?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Hannah,
      It appears the FBI has expanded their office because the website now says the process takes six weeks. So this should give you more than enough time!

    • avatar Nadia says:

      Hi Hannah,
      I’m going through Chicago as well, and they told me the same thing; that as long as my FBI background check was done in 2011, they’ll accept it, because the US Department of State’s slow response is not my fault. I am still waiting on pins and needles, however, because at this point I don’t even know if they have received it. It’s been well over 15 business days since I mailed them my stupid FBI background check.

  16. avatar Ashley says:

    I am having similar problems. I was under the impression that I could use my FBI Background Check and medical clearance from the beginning of the whole application for my Visa processing. I cannot get anyone to answer a phone or return a call or e-mail from the Consulate OR my representatives in Spain. Does anyone have advice in this area? I just mailed off a new Background Check request this morning just in case. I am also planning on going to my doctor and getting a new clearance. That’s not such a big deal as it won’t take much time at all. I’m a little hazy on how we need to get the Apostille approval? I’m not sure what this means. Is this just sending it to the State department? I’m just really lost. And I’m losing faith that I’ll even make it to Spain.

    • avatar Chelsea says:


      If you did not write on your most recent FBI background check application that you need it to be “authenticated,” then you should call FBI customer service ASAP, because they will tell you that you need to fax a request for the authentication. If you DID request the authentication, then so far so good!

      After you receive the authenticated FBI background check results (it will have a seal and a stamp), then you are ready to apply for the apostille. You send the authenticated results to the state department with the appropriate payment and cover letter (check the state department website for more info). The FBI background check results will then be returned to you with the apostille attached (a thick paper attached by grommet). Then you’re done! Make some copies of this! When you apply for your visa, make sure they know to return this original document to you because you need it in Spain. Or maybe you consulate will accept a photocopy for your visa application if they see that you have the original, who knows.

      In terms of the dating of the documents, the impression I’m under after much research and stalking of the Facebook groups is that (for the NYC consulate) the FBI check needs to be dated in 2011 (but does not have to be less than 3 months old at the time of your visa appointment) but the medical certificate does need to be no more than 3 months old at the time of your visa appointment.

      As far as getting the medical certificate apostille, the jury is out. Some consulates require it, some don’t. My consulate does not, but I’ve read that the NIE application does require that the med. certificate has the apostille. Any current auxiliares have any info on what is needed to apply for the NIE?

      Wow, that was an essay. And I thought I just graduated…

      • avatar Ben Raznick says:

        Awesome answer Chelsea… you pretty much summed it all up! Thanks for contributing.

      • avatar Ashley says:

        I just put a note in there asking for it to be authenticated. Do you think that will be enough?

    • avatar Hannah says:

      Hi Ashley,
      Like you, I sent a new FBI Background check this morning. I’m trying to research on the Apostille right now and it is like you say, a bit hazy. I can’t find an application form we fill out nor a definite address that we need to send it to. All I know is that we need to send it to Washinton D.C. That’s all I’ve found out. Let me know if you find anything else out!
      Best of luck!

  17. avatar Natalie says:

    Hi Ben and Everyone,
    I just sent my background check to be authenticated (I didn’t do it in the first place). It was done 3/20/2011 and they said that is fine, it is within the deadline. However, when I get it back, I have to send it for the Apostille–do they have a 90 day deadline too?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Natalie,
      I think you can still get the Apostille after the 90 days. However, I’m not sure, so definitely check back in if you find out any other information.

      • avatar Ben Raznick says:

        Hi Natalie. A lot of people are asking if you can still get an Apostille on the FBI Certificate if it’s more than 90 days old. Did you find out any more information about this while trying to get the Apostille?

  18. avatar Fashionbabe says:


    I am in desperate need of some advice. I received my FBI background check with the FBI’s signature and everything weeks ago. I never knew I had to send it to the Apostille to be stamped as well. My Visa appointment is on June 28th, 3 weeks from today but unfortunately only 12 business days away as of Friday, the earliest it could arrive in Washington if I send it first class mail Thursday Morning. I live in NY State and was wondering if an Apostille stamp from the Department of State would be sufficient. If not, do I need to have the Apostille stamped document with me on June 28th or could I send my FBI check to the US department of State with a stamped envelope and request for the Apostille seal to be sent directly to the consulate? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hello Fashionbabe!

      Well, I can see your dilemma, but am not sure the best way to go about it. I would first contact your consulate to find out if your FBI Certificate needs the Apostille. If it does, I think a possible solution is that you can take a photo copy of your FBI Certificate to the appointment, however will have to send in the official FBI Certificate and Apostille to your consulate at a later date for the Visa to be issued in your passport.

      If anybody has another advice, please chime in!

    • avatar Corey says:

      I’m moving to Spain from New York too; was the NY Department of State apostille good enough for the consulate? Thanks!

  19. avatar Tina says:

    Hi Ben! Thank you for all your advise and help. It looks like I am in the exact same boat as everyone else. I am currently waiting for my FBI check to be returned. I made the mistake of not putting “authenticate my results” my first time plus it was 3 months old anyways…So, it looks like I understand the apostille process…FINALLY. But now, I am confused on what we need in Spain. From what I can see, my Consulate (San Francisco) doesn’t require my medical certificate to be apostilled but does it need to be when I am in Spain? Also, does my medical certificate need to be notarized and/or translated or apostilled? It looks like my Consulate doesn’t require the FBI check and medical certificate to be translated but I think I read somewhere that Spain requires it? If it does need to be translated (for Spain) does both the original (in English) and translated version need to be notarized? whheeww…I think that’s all (for now). Thank you!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Tina,

      My answer may vary from what other auxiliares needed once they arrived to Spain. However, in the foreigners office of Jaén, in order to apply for the NIE card, there was no need for the medical certificate. I did in fact have mine written in Spanish last year (no apostille), however never used it abroad. Here is the requirements for the Jaén office to apply for the NIE card:
      (Under section Supuesto de solicitud inicial)

      On the other hand, other regions may require this, so a possible way to check is to look up your region on this website:
      (Click your region, Click “Extranjería, and then the documents are listed at bottom of page)
      And see what requirements are listed on their own foreigner’s identity card application form.

      • avatar Tina says:

        Thank you so much Ben!!! That was the most helpful answer I have received since this whole crazy process. It’s all so confusing, especially when you hear different things. But, it looks like my region (Andalucia) requires the same as yours. My Consulate doesn’t require my medical cert to be apostilled or translated but word on the street (a.k.a. Facebook groups) we do need that and fbi translated, so I am just going to do it JUST in case to be on the safe side. It’s better to be safe than sorry and I don’t want to get there and be told I didn’t do something. I am still debating if I should get the medical cert. notarized to be safe too…but I am thinking the foreigners office in Spain isn’t going to be specifically looking to see if its notarized. But, again. Thank you VERY much!

      • avatar rosalyn says:

        Hi Ben,

        I’m checking the documents needed for the NIE for Castilla y León and it states what services they provide but not what documents you should have. Am I reading this wrong..Please help. I do not have a translation for my FBI check and I am worried. I have had two assistants tell me they didn’t need it in Spain but I need to know for Castilla y León. Thanks!!

        • avatar rosalyn says:

          nevermind i found the info and all the docs i need! So we apply for NIE and TIE?

          • avatar Eve Richer says:

            Hi Rosalyn,
            Just to clarify, are you currently in Spain or the US? Do you have your visa already?

  20. avatar Jon says:

    Just to be clear, once you receive your FBI check back in the envelope, it’s okay to open it correct? It won’t invalidate your results to get an apostille? Thanks

  21. avatar Jarrod says:


    I need to get an apostille for my FBI background check and I was wondering if there is any other way to get it than through U.S. Department of State office in Washington DC? I live in Colorado and was hoping to get it done through Colorado Secretary of State like how I did with my degree. Is this possible?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Jarrod,
      From my experience, sending the FBI background check to the U.S. Federal Department of State was the only official way to receive the apostille. It is a complicated matter for the following reason: An apostille requires the original document to be notarized. The FBI background check cannot be notarized by anybody except the FBI who issued it. Therefore, when the FBI background check comes back notarized, the notary is not from your own state which is why you can’t get the apostille from your own individual state department. (To get an apostille from your own state department, the notary has to be from that same state.) Because of this, the only way to get the apostille (as far as I know) is to send it to the national Department of State office. Very confusing I know! Hope that answers your question, Ben

  22. avatar Katie says:

    Hi! Very helpful thank you. For the Boston consulate I have to get it translated, but how can I get it translated if the seal is broken from the FBI authentication making it void? Should I just order it in Spanish to begin with, and forget about it being in English?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Katie,
      I was not aware that any consulate required the FBI Background Check to be translated. Are you sure? If you can order it in Spanish, that would save you the trouble of having to translate it.

      • avatar Katie says:

        Yeah I am going through the Boston consulate. This is what they say, “Certification of “Absence of Police Records” (REQUESTED FROM JANUARY 1st, 2011), for stays over 180 days only. Original translated into Spanish and one copy will be needed (contact a legal translator). ” I just don’t get it because how can i open it and get it translated?? It says original must be translated, so doesn’t that mean i get the one in english then get it translated? They are so unhelpful.

  23. avatar Julia Fong says:

    I have a question regarding getting my CRC authenticated/apostilled! The US Department of State website mentions a Walk-in service available for authentications. Does this mean I can get it apostilled in person?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      I think so! I would double check the details on the site, but if that works it would be a definite time-saver.

  24. avatar Kallie says:

    So, everyone has a headache with this whole apostille business, right? Has it been confirmed that NO MATTER WHAT after 90 days, the FBI doc CANNOT get the apostille? My background check is from March 8, so I may be out of luck…has anyone re-sent their FBI check in even if it was past 90 days and managed to get the apostille??? I feel like there is no info on this, and I called the US Dept of State and when I asked about the apostille of the Hague the lady said: “I ain’t never heard of an apostille.” Frightening. Please help if you have answers. Thanks!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hopefully somebody who has dealt with this situation can answer the question here!

  25. avatar April Williams says:

    I wanted to know if we HAD TO send it to DC or can it be apostilled in the city we live in because I have been hearing very different answers.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi April,
      This is definitely a common question. From my experience, sending the FBI background check to the U.S. Federal Department of State was the only official way to receive the apostille. It is a complicated matter for the following reason: An apostille requires the original document to be notarized. The FBI background check cannot be notarized by anybody except the FBI who issued it. Therefore, when the FBI background check comes back notarized, the notary is not from your own state which is why you can’t get the apostille from your own individual state department. (To get an apostille from your own state department, the notary has to be from that same state.) Because of this, the only way to get the apostille (as far as I know) is to send it to the national Department of State office. Very confusing I know! Hope that answers your question, Ben

  26. avatar Maggie Brown says:

    I’m wondering if Nadia ever got the apostille back??!! I’m in the same boat. I’ve been waiting 5 weeks to get the stupid thing back!! I’m supposed to go pick up my completed visa on July 6 and I have a flight on July 9 but they need the apostille to give me the visa. Their customer service at the Authentications Office is horrible/non-existent! How long did it actually take Nadia? I hope you have yours by now.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hey Maggie,
      I commented to Nadia above to see if she has gotten hers back yet (hopefully she has,) and how long it took. So we’ll see…

  27. avatar Lauren says:

    Hello Ben! Thanks for this info! However will I still be able to get the apostille if my background check is older than 90 days?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Lauren,
      This is a common question that hasn’t been officially answered yet. The 90 day rule has become a tricky subject for everybody. If somebody knows the answer to this, or you find it out, please post it here!

  28. avatar Rosi says:

    Thanks for the info! It is very helpful. I got my FBI without the apostille. I was looking on the website (link you kindly provided) and the are two links there and I am a little confused. I just have a little question: is it the same or are they referring to the same think by the Authentications and the Hague Convention Apostille? What i mean is: do i only need to sent it and request the Appostille, or would I need an extra signature, stampt, or something else?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Rosi,
      The Department of State website above ( ) leads you to the “Office of Authentications” division, which in other words, is where you would send your FBI background check to get the Apostille. So yes, you can send your FBI background check to this office, and it will be returned with the Apostille. They will know to Apostille it by the Cover Letter you have to fill out. (Pdf file available on the website, or here ) However, please be sure your FBI background check is already authenticated/notarized by the FBI (where you received it from originally.)
      I hope that answered your question, but let me know if I didn’t understand correctly.

      • avatar Rosi says:

        Thanks for all your help and time, but I still have a question, how do I get my fbi authenticated or notarized? I live in PA, and when I requested it, I didn’t request anything else but the f bi clearance, so what do I do now?

      • avatar Rosi says:

        Thanks for all your help and coments, but i still have a question: since the apostille is defferent from the authentication, how do I get the authentication or notarization of the FBI since i didn’t request anything when i originally requested my FBI? and, after the authentification, then do I request the apostille? Thanks for your help 😉

  29. avatar Susan says:

    I’m going through the Chicago Consular office and the website, like the boston one, also asks for a translation of the background check in spanish. Has anybody gotten this done? Or does anyone have any information on how to go about this? I’d appreciate the help thanx!

    • avatar Ashley says:

      I, too, am going through the Chicago Consulate. I e-mailed them asking if I needed to have my background check & health certificate translated & notarized for my visa interview & they said no. I wasn’t planning on getting it done. The whole process is very frustrating. I am hoping it is worth it in the end. 🙂 Good luck!

  30. avatar Maurice says:

    I have a question about the Doctor’s note that we needed stating that we are in good health. I recently read in one of the newsletters that this letter had to be notarized and then sent to the Dept of State for the apostille. Is this true about the notarization part. I tried taking the signed letter to a notary, but he told me he could not notarize someone else signature without them present. From your experience does the letter have to be notarized before I can send it to the Dept. of State? You advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Maurice,

      There seems to be conflicting information about this and just like everything, it might depend on your consulate. Last year when I applied through the DC consulate my doctor note was not notarized or apostilled. There were no problems and I got my visa just fine. This time around I don’t think I will try to get it notarized either, since as you mention, it seems sort of impossible to do it unless you physically get a doctor and a notary in the same room while doing the signing. When you go to apply for your visa make sure you tell them that you are doing this program, because then they know you’ve already been screened by the government and will be less likely to give you a hard time about things.


      • avatar Eve Richer says:

        Just as an FYI, today my sister took all her paperwork to the DC embassy to apply for her visa but she was rejected because her medical certificate was not apostilled. So apparently this year in DC it seems to be a requirement even though last year I didn’t have to do this. If anyone has anymore info, please share.

  31. avatar Maurice says:

    Ok, that’s what I figured. I went on my consulates website and looked at the requirements for the visa and said nothing about having the doctor’s note notarized. The only document it said that needed to be authenticated was the FBI background check. Thanks again for your help. I look forward to working in Aragon this coming October.
    By the way, your website is a brilliant idea. Keep it up.


  32. avatar Julius says:

    Does anyone know if there is a limit on getting an already authorized/notarized FBI background check apostilled? I’ve sent it in and have yet to get it back, and I’m worried it’s sitting in a pile there. Is there a 90 day limit on the background check to be apostilled, or is it only for the background check to be authorized/notarized/sealed?


  33. avatar Ayush Kumar says:

    I sent my FBI check document to the state office in DC a month ago.. I haven’t heard back from them yet.. website says 15 days processing time but it is not correct as it is already more than that. When I called the central office no they said that the office is 12 weeks behind. This is from today morning.. I am not sure but if I fly to DC to just collect the document… Will it help? I feel really crazy because of the process. I don’t even know of I can make it now for this September…..

  34. avatar ayush says:

    Folks.. I have a question.. From the posts above, I guess that some of the folks went to the VISA interview without the apostilled Background check form instead they went with the photocopy of the same. And when they received the apostilled document from the secretary of state, they went with the same to obtain the VISA. I have sent my document for apostille but haven’t received the same yet. (Its already 5 weeks) Can I also go ahead for the interview and give them the photocopy telling that I will have the apostilled document ready when I come to collect the passport?
    Note – I have my interview at the Chicago consulate..

    • avatar ayush says:

      I was able to submit the VISA application with a copy of my background check. They told me to show them the original copy of the background check and the apostille document when I come back to collect my visa in 4-5 weeks.

      • avatar Eve Richer says:

        Good to know. My embassy is DC so when my document comes in I’ll check to see if they will do the same.

  35. avatar Bill Barnes says:

    We can process your documents for apostille in the US Department of State and have them done in 1 day, instead of 6 to 8 week mail in time.
    Please call Bill Barnes at 202.298.6550.

  36. avatar Andrea says:

    I know some people have mentioned that the state department allows walk ins to get the Apostille. Has anyone tried this? I’m thinking of giving it a shot because I also had to resend for the background check and need to get the stamp from the state department so it might save time.

    I live in NY, had trouble getting a visa appointment ( they were booked for the next 3 months!) I contacted the man who is part of the ministry of education for my region (found his name in the packet) he was able to make an earlier appointment for me.

    I’m going tomorrow for my visa appointment, I have all the documents except of course the “new background check” because my other one was older than 90 days. Im going to bring the older one so hopefully they can at least start the process. The man at the ministry of education said that they will let me start the process but I cant get the visa in hand until I give them apostilled background check. ( NY consulate)

    Hope this helps someone!

    – Anyone go to the state department as a walk in to get the apostille?
    – Anyone who sent in for the apostille generally is it taking a month as stated on the site?

    • avatar ayush says:

      I finally got my document back yesterday. It took 6 weeks to process the document. So, if you are planning to go to Spain soon, I advise you against the mailing option. Keep the background check with you and go for the walk-in option. Even though you might have to travel a bit but its still much better than waiting for the document via mail.

      • avatar Eve Richer says:

        Hi Ayush,

        Thanks for your comment. I sent my document in 4 weeks ago, so based on your experience hopefully I’ll get mine back in 2 more weeks. I think the walk-in option is a good idea. If you try that, could you report back and let us know how it went? If all goes well for me I will add an update to the above blog post to explain the walk-in process. Below is some information I pasted from the State Department web site:

        Walk-in (Counter Service)

        Open only from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
        Monday thru Friday except Federal Holidays

        Each customer (company) is limited to 15 documents per day on a while-you-wait basis.


        Authentications Office — Columbia Plaza Store Front
        518 23rd Street NW
        Washington, DC 20520

        Directions by Metro Rail
        Nearest Metro Station – Foggy Bottom-GWU
        Use Blue or Orange Metro rail to Foggy Bottom-GWU stop.
        Exit Metro onto 23rd Street and turn right. Walk down 3 blocks,
        Cross Virginia Avenue, walk down to Columbia Plaza on right.
        Enter center courtyard; the office is at the far left corner of the courtyard area.

  37. avatar Lisa says:

    Hello everyone,

    I applied for my FBI background check about a month ago, but haven’t received it yet (unsurprising, I know, seeing as the website says 6 weeks!). However, my visa appointment is the following Monday, July 25th!!! I contacted my consulate in New York City, but so far I haven’t gotten a response. Any advice? Is it possible to go with everything else and have the background check with the apostille sent directly to the consulate at a later date??? Right now I’m really feeling like I screwed this one up big time . . . any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Lisa, I’m not sure, but someone else in the comments mentioned that they could apply for their visa at the Chicago consulate with just a copy of the background check while it was being sent in for the apostille. I applied a month ago for my FBI check but I’m still waiting.

  38. avatar Andrea says:

    Hi Lisa,
    You going to be fine. I know the website makes things seem very intimidating.

    I too went to the NYC consulate for my visa appointment and didn’t have the background check with me. You also need a doctor’s note no more than 3 months old (which they dont say on the website). Tell them you are part of the program and that you want the visa process started. The women entered all of my info and told be the visa process was started but that I would need to come back with the remaining documents and then at that point they would actually take my passport in order to put the actual visa in it. She just said to come in once I have the papers on a weekday early in the morning- like 9 when it opens. She also said I wont need an appointment just to drop off the papers. I asked her how soon I would have to drop off the papers before I was planning on leaving and she seemed very casual about it and not too worried and didnt give me a specific time needed. So if I do get all the papers in time, i’d like to give them like two weeks, because if the process is already underway now, adhering it to the passport shouldn’t take very long.

    Hope this helps! It will all work out! Keep me posted. Thanks, Andrea

    • avatar Lisa says:


      Thank you so much!! I can’t tell you how much better I feel hearing that! Good luck with everything–this is my second year doing the Auxiliar program, so I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!

      Un beso, Lisa

  39. avatar Mariel says:

    i have a question, as many of you my FBI background check is more than 90 days old so i need to reapply for one, in order to do so do you need to pay again the 18 dlls for the fingerprints and all that or there’s a way you just resubmit without paying?

  40. avatar Chelsey says:

    Hi Mariel,
    When I had to send for a new background check, I had to pay again and get new fingerprints done. I’m not sure what everyone else has done, but that’s just what I gathered. I don’t think there is a way around it unfortunately. Good luck! 🙂

  41. avatar Chelsey says:

    Hello everyone,
    First, thank you Ben for posting all of this information! You’ve been extremely helpful, and reading everyone’s comments and posts has been a great stress-reliever!
    Anyway, I have a question. I called the FBI yesterday and they told me that my background check is on its way. Then I have to send it for the Apostille. According to my consulate’s website (the Boston consulate) we have to bring a Spanish translation of the original FBI background check. I’m just wondering how I should go about doing this especially when I have to send it off to DC to get the apostille. Has anyone else had to get their FBI background check translated? How did you go about it? I was going to use, but I’m not sure how legitimate that site is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Chelsey,
      There have a been a few other comments from other auxiliares on this blog regarding the Boston consulate requirement of a translated FBI background check. (Which seems to be unique to the Boston consulate – the Los Angeles consulate who I go through does not require this.) If anybody has already gone through the Visa process with the Boston consulate, your comments would be very welcome!

  42. avatar Julia says:


    As many have said before, MANY MANY thanks for your advice!!

    (I also just want to comment on how absurd this process is and that there really is no proper information all in one location…beside Ben’s blog, so thank goodness for Ben!)

    Well, as it seems almost all of you have also experienced, my FBI background check was older than 90 days and without the “authenticated” stamp from the FBI. I, however, still didn’t understand this whole authentication thing, and sent in my FBI background check to the US Department of State for the Apostille – I just received the FBI background check today in the mail with the US Department of State Apostille….is this legit? The paper is the grommeted thick paper with the department of state seal as Chelsea described….

    I started the whole process over again (sent in my fingerprints and asked the letter to be authenticated) because I didn’t think I could get the apostille without it.

    Any ideas if I can use this Apostille and FBI background check without the FBI having notarized it?

    Whew, thanks for reading this long post, and words of advice would be great!!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Julia,
      I’m not sure, but maybe you should call your consulate to ask. At the very least, I think they’d possibly accept this temporarily while processing your visa and then you could bring the proper document (if needed) when you pick up your visa. If anyone else knows they can chime in…

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Julia.
      Thanks for the message. Yeah, I agree with Eve, and am curious to see if the consulate will just allow for your apostilled FBI background check (even though it’s more than 90 days old) to be sufficient, given the amount of time the process is taking everybody. Keep us updated!

  43. avatar Ray says:

    I was wondering, I know you have to get the FBI background check to have an apostille but what about the medical certificate? Does it need an apostille. That would mean I would my medical certificate notarized (how would this work?) Quite a confusing process. I’m having trouble reaching the NY Consulate so that they can answer my question.

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Ray,
      I know the DC consulate requires an apostille on the medical certificate but many others don’t, so you will have to check with NY. Yesterday my sister took her signed medical certificate to a notary in DC, then got a walk-in apostille in DC, and soon she will turn everything into the consulate there. If that works out for her then I will probably do the same. If anyone else has information on getting their medical certificate apostilled, please share!

    • avatar Christine says:

      Hi Ray,
      My appt was July 11 at the NY Consulate and I did not have to have my medical apostilled. I had to send away for another FBI check to be appostilled, so when I went for my appt. I showed them my old one and they started the process but I have to come back with my new FBI check with the Appostille before they will issue the Visa. It seems a lot of people are having the same problem so they were very nice and helpful about everything.

  44. avatar Samantha DeSantis says:

    Thank you so much for your information! I was just recently taken off the waitlist (about 3 weeks ago). I sent in my FBI background check about 3 weeks ago and still have heard nothing. I also still have not received my official acceptance letter in the mail. I am very concerned that I will not have enough time to get everything done before the end of september. What happens if i dont get the paperwork done before October 1st? Should I withdraw my acceptance? thank you!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Samantha,
      Some people arrive late, especially waitlist people, so I don’t see why you’d have to withdraw. Just work on getting everything together as fast as possible, and when you apply for the visa make sure they understand you are doing this program and it starts Oct 1. You might get it all in time, and if you don’t, just make sure you’re in contact with your school so they know what’s going on and when your arrival date is. I’ve heard of late people just making up their hours and getting paid the full stipend.

  45. avatar Andrea says:

    Hey Ray,

    The NY consulate doesn’t require that the medical certificate to be apostilled in order to get the visa. But I believe you do need to have it apostilled by the state department to get the NIE card (see Bens post to tina on the 13th- that link……it might depend on the region you’re living in

    As for getting it notarized. I too found this puzzling because if you take it to a bank to get it notarized they will say that they can’t do it because the doctor isn’t signing in front of them to verify. Ask the doctor if they have a notary in the office, or ask if they can have it notarized for you

    I also live in NY. 1) I got the letter notarized 2) got the notary verified by the county clerk ( see requirement for state apostille 3) sent it to the New York State Department of State 4) then its off to the State Department in DC.
    (see the right column of the June newsletter- number 2 in the light blue box Newsletter)

    Again I cant say if you will need it with the “Hague apostille” on the med certificate for your region in Spain, but for the visa you just need the letter but it cant be older than 90 days (Im assume from your visa appointment day)- what a goose chase I know!

    I need to do the walk in option by the time I get the FBI check back. Your sister said everything was easy with the walk in option? Any tips?

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      I agree, notarizing the medical certificate is an odd task, because technically for a notary to verify a doctor’s signature they need to physically watch the doctor sign. I am not sure how I’m going to deal with that yet since I don’t have my doctor’s note, but I will try to share my experiences once I do. As for the walk-in apostille option, I haven’t had a chance to ask my sister about it, but I am under the impression it was pretty easy for her. As soon as I get my FBI check back (hopefully soon) I will attempt to get a walk-in apostille and maybe even write a whole blog post about it.

  46. avatar Richard Lyman says:


    I’m in an interesting predicament. I was recently taken off the wait-list as well, but…I’ve been living in Barcelona for the past two months. Unfortunately, I thought that if I did happen to get taken off the wait-list while I was here I could sort out my VISA in the country where I’d soon be working. After talking to some administrative officials and a pair of lawyers, no dice. My background check is over 90 days old and I’m pretty sure it’s not apostilled (it’s got an FBI seal and a signature from Kimberly Greco – Biometric Section Chief, but nothing from the U.S. Department of State.

    I have a ticket back to SFO August 31st, and a ticket back to Barcelona September 21st. I really have no time to re-send my fingerprints (and don’t really know how I would here – I guess through the U.S. embassy in Madrid), but I did some detective work and found another auxiliare post that it’s possible to get an old FBI background check notarized. This is his quote:

    “This is what I did with my FBI background check to get Apostilled. I did it all in person and it took me a couple of hours to complete around Los Angeles. 1). I took it to a notary public to get notarized, where you sign your name on the FBI background check document, the notary public will give you a California All Purpose Acknowledgment form, then 2). You take those two papers to Norwalk to the Registars Recorders Office where they will verify the notary public signature, then 3). Take it to the Secretary of States Office in Downtown L.A. to get the Apostille seal. That is what I did. My background check was from January 2011, and they accepted it because it was part of the ongoing Auxiliar Application process.”

    His steps were essentially this (same as Andrea above for NY consulate):
    A. Get document notarized (by notary in his county)
    B. County Clerks and Recorders Office of his county (to confirm the notary sign)
    C. Secretary of States Office of respective area of state (to apostille the document)

    If anyone else is worried about the time it’s going to take them for their new FBI check to come back, I invite them to try this method and let us know how it goes. I feel like I basically have no other alternative.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Richard,
      That is an interesting predicament! It sounds like that auxiliar had his own signature notarized on the FBI Background Check (any signature can be notarized.) In which case he was able to utilize a local notary and take it to his own state’s Secretary of State office for the apostille. Good idea! The difference between this method and my own is that from my understanding, the FBI Background Check ITSELF needs to be notarized, (Not your own signature upon receiving it in the mail.) In this circumstance, the only way to achieve this is to have it notarized on site in West Virginia where the document is created.

      However, it remains unclear if this method you’ve mentioned will satisfy the requirements for the consulate. So, if you, or anybody reading this blog attempts this, please comment!
      Thanks for the post.

  47. avatar Andrés says:

    Actually, I wanted to point something out another trick that may or may not help out. What you do is contact your specific Congressional Office to see if they could help expedite the process or at least track your paperwork with the State Department or FBI. What people forget is that Congressional Offices (re: US House of Representatives district offices) help constituents in their dealings with federal agencies. This will require you to fill out a Privacy Act Consent form all Congressional Offices use, and then meet with one of their Constituent Service representatives to make your case. If they agree to help you, you now have a constituent case where you can have a C.S. representative (AKA another set of eyes and ears to help you) in e-mail contact with the agency encourage your paperwork process along.

    Basically, I did this for my Department of State apostille but do not know how it would work with the FBI. I figure that any constituent could put in the same request in any other district–should their Congressional Office decide to take up their case. While you may still have to wait 30 days for your document to process, it may be worth trying this to see what advice or assistance your US House of Representatives office can provide.

  48. avatar Joicy Serrano says:

    I am (like many) having difficulties getting everything done for my FBI Background check and apostille. Unfortunatly I had to leave the country on an emergency for the summer and realized that I needed to get my FBI background check Apostilled. By then I realized that 90 days had past and had to reapply for a second check. I have returned from abroad and noticed that the FBI form has not arrived. I called the office and they told me it mught get here by the 15th of August! I also check the U.S. Dept website and freaked out after seeing that it will take 4 more weeks to get it Apostilled. Question: Have any of you guys tried getting your document apostilles through a private agency? I found a couple of agencies that promise to apostille document with in 3-4 days for a higher price of course. I am contemplating doing it through a private agency, but wanted to see if anyone had advise on the matter. My appointment with the SF Spanish consulate is on the 15th which means I will have to reschedule! I am freaking out a bit, and believe my VISA might not be ready for October 1st!

    Thanks for your time, and hope to hear from anyone soon…


    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Joicy, I have no experience with private agencies but perhaps someone else can chime in on that. Also, take a look at the comment from Andrés since it may be helpful to you. I am still waiting for my background check as well…

  49. avatar Andrea says:

    Did everyone read the August newsletter?!

    “Dear Auxiliares, Good news! As of August 1, the Consulates will also
    accept a State police certificate, letter of good conduct or criminal history background with the Apostille of your State. Unlike the FBI background check the State police certificate can be obtained and apostilled in just a few days.”

    I take this to mean that a state issued background check with your state’s apostille will suffice for the visa process. Would that also mean that it would work for the NIE card? ( I would assume so because they are the same documents you used to obtain your visa)……this saved me a trip to DC. Im a little annoyed that this was only presented as an option now (I’ve been stressing for weeks!) but it means only a few more steps and we’ll be in Spain!

    * the New York consulate website, changed the FBI check to “Police Records Certificate” but neglected to change the notes about the FBI background check on the bottom of the page- confusing

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Thanks for posting this Andrea! All auxiliares out there who were going through this FBI crisis (I’m guessing everybody…), the good news is that we can now get a local Police Background Check and have it apostilled by our own respective Secretary of State office. Awesome news. (But a bummer that we all found out so late in the game…)

  50. avatar Tom says:

    Hey Ben,

    I submitted my request for the FBI CBC and I received it in the mail. The problem is that I sent it to the Dept of State in DC (D.o.S.) without doing this step:

    IMPORTANT: On a sticky note, write that you need the FBI Certificate “Authenticated” in order to get the Apostille.

    Do you think that the D.o.S. will return it to me with the Apostille/without? Or will they simply discard my letter?

    Do you think it is possible to call the FBI number and request they send me another copy or will I have to go through the entire process again (it has not been 6 months since I first requested the CBC)?



    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      I just calling the customer service line of the FBI in West Virginia. The number is 304-625-5590. They can tell you your record number and probably what they will tell you to do is fax a letter explaining you need the certificate authenticated. Their fax number is 304-625-9792.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hey Tom,
      In addition to what Eve suggested, if you’ve already sent the FBI Background Check to the Department of State and it wasn’t already authenticated, I’m going to guess it will come back without the Apostille… However if you are an auxiliar for this upcoming 2011-12 school year, the requirements have changed and a local Police Background Check will do (notarized and with Apostille from your own respective Secretary of State), rather than an FBI Background Check. (Way easier and time-efficient!)

  51. avatar Frank says:

    I forgot to request for the FBI background check to be authenticated. I read on here to send a fax to add this request to the application. What is the fax number to send this request? Thanks!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      I would probably call them first and then fax. They’ll tell you your record number. The phone number is 304-625-5590 and their fax number is 304-625-9792.

  52. avatar Ashley says:

    Oh my goodness!!

    This has been such a trying process. On more than a few occasions, I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and just give up. I really, really did. I have been trying to keep a calm head about myself, but it’s been rather difficult… Here’s a highlight reel of what I have been going through & what I’ve done to correct it… In case someone else is experiencing this…

    The FBI Background Check… I sent off my 2nd copy the 5th of June… Just received it back last Monday (August 8th) saying that the officer did not take thorough enough finger prints!! That the resolution was too low & could not be read & that I’d have to re-submit them. I seriously cried for a little while considering I had been on the phone with them 2 weeks prior to that & they said, “Your application is in process.” That’s it. That’s ALL they could tell me. They didn’t say or never said a single thing about it NOT being good enough. The only thing that kept me from punching a kitten (NOT literally, of course) was that I received the August newsletter later that evening. I immediately e-mailed the consulate about getting an apostille for my health certificate. (I should mention that I have been waiting & waiting & waiting to get it back from the DC w/ the apostille) They said my background check is what needed authenticated & I have since mailed it off to the STATE to get this done… I’m expecting it’s return this week (Jeeeez, I hope!!). I just got back into town from a long weekend away & found that I received my health certificate back from DC only to have it say that I needed to go to my individual state to get the apostille!!! Are you freaking kidding me!?! That’s all they wrote on it!! I am still a bit upset about this, but trying to relax knowing the consulate said I didn’t have to have it “Apostillized.” But, you better believe I am printing off all of these e-mails to take with me to my visa interview next week… I am so stressed about this stuff!!

    As I said, I am trying to keep my head… I would love to know if anyone is experiencing what I am & how you are coping… It is really testing me at times. I am anxious & very excited to get there, but man… this is tough! HaHa!

    Does anyone know if I will need to have my stuff certified by the Apostille for when I get to Spain? Will their government require it? That is one of my biggest concerns. I don’t want to be w/out it when I apply for my NIE card if it is required. I’m really confused about all of this, so any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks!!!

    • avatar Eve Richer says:

      Hi Ashley,
      It really is frustrating at times and I have been just as upset as you on multiple occasions. The process seems to get increasingly ridiculous each step of the way, but just try to hang in there. I spent my whole morning running around DC dealing with my Apostilles and I might write up a post with more details, but I’m not sure of your consulate or whether it will apply to you. The DC consulate requires an Apostille on the medical certificate, but many other consulates don’t. If you are really stressed about having everything for your NIE you can try contacting the Oficina de Extranjeros in the region you will be in. As you have probably noticed, Spanish bureaucracy is very decentralized so requirements are not really consistent across regions. That said, I think you will be fine getting your NIE with just the documents you submit for your visa. Best of luck with everything!

  53. Pingback: How to Get a Walk-in Apostille for Spain Visa Documents |

  54. avatar Samantha DeSantis says:

    So after an incredibly stressful month, I finally got my background check and was able to apply for my visa. At this point i’m just waiting for my visa to come through. My next concern is finding apartments. It looks like (from the facebook group) people are trying to partner up before even getting to Madrid. I just assumed that everyone was going to wait until they got to Madrid to meet other auxiliares and then start looking for places to live. I’ve looked around apartments on a couple websites but, nothing serious. Should i be seriously looking and contacting renters etc? My biggest fear is getting to Madrid and feeling like everyone is already settled when I have literally no clue where i’m living. Thoughts?

  55. avatar Kellie Hayes says:


    I have sent off my FBI background check about a month ago, and I thought I had it all under control, but it seems that this is not the case. I wrote on the check that I needed it authenticated. I do not know what more to do. I live in NC and my consulate is in DC, and I have just read that I need to have my health certificate authenticated as well? I suppose this means that I have to send in my doctor certificate with my fingerprints? I’m just a bit confused as to what to do for it all. And when do I need to start applying for a Visa? I also have my Authentications letter and am waiting on the background check to come back. I am obviously not applying for the 2011 school year, because it is already closed! So, am I just being a little silly worrying about all of this if I am not even applying until this coming November? Thanks so much Ben and to all the people who replied!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Kellie,
      If you will be applying for the 2012-1013 school year, there will be plenty of time down the road to start working on this process. (And I think the application period begins in February. Check out Eve’s post about this.

      The FBI background check is a tricky issue because this year the consulates were requiring this document to be processed within 90 days prior to applying to the Visa, in which case an FBI background check that is a year old will not be valid.

      As far as authenticating a health certificate, my consulate in Los Angeles did not require this however I know the DC consulate does, so Eve may know more about this topic.

  56. avatar Kellie Hayes says:


    Thanks for the response! I guess I don’t really need to start worrying about applying until Feb. then, huh? Worst case scenario I get my background check back in December, do you think it would still be valid for sending it off? Those are the three things that I am most worried about, the FBI check, applying for the Visa and getting the health certificate authenticated. I read that I need to have my health certificate notarized, is that ok to do in my home state of NC, or would it be better to get it done in DC? I’m trying to keep a cool head, though after reading some of the other posts it seems to be the best way to get things done..I’m amazed at how some people just keep their heads. Thanks to yall who have been such a great help!

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Kellie, check out Eve’s blog post about How to Get a Walk-in Apostille for Spanish Visa Documents, she answers your question in the comments area on how to get an apostille on your medical documents. And regarding your question on whether you should do it in your home state or DC, you can get an apostille from your North Carolina Secretary of State office for documents notarized in the state of North Carolina. The FBI Certificate, which is notarized/authenticated in DC will have to be sent in to the Department of State office for the apostille.

      • avatar Kellie Hayes says:

        Thank you so much for your help.

        Eve- Thanks for your help…both of yall have helped me sleep a little better at night! I like to plan ahead to what you’ve told me has helped a ton!

        Have a great day!

    • avatar Adam says:

      I thought the application process started November 1st?

  57. avatar Ray says:

    I was wondering if we can get the visa process started in advance even if I don’t have all the documents? I’m still waiting for my FBI background check to arrive with the seal because I had to resubmit it for it and I’m really cutting it close to the day
    I’m suppose to arrive in Spain. Plus I still have to go to DC for the apostille. I’ve already contacted my school about the possibility of not getting my visa on time for orientation. I still want to get there ASAP.

    I am in New York City and was wondering if I can just walk in with the documents I already have to get the process started. I do have a visa appointment scheduled for the 26th but I feel like I should get the process rolling so by the time of the appointment, I can just get my visa. Has anyone done this? Is it possible to get my visa that quickly? I’ve heard it takes like 8 weeks and I’m getting nervous if that’s what happen.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Ray,
      I don’t know exactly how long it takes to get the Visa once you’ve turned in all the papers at your appointment. However, I imagine they can do rush orders for cases that are so tight on time. I would call your consulate and talk with someone on the phone to confirm everything. The sooner you start the process the better!

      • avatar Ray says:

        Thanks! I went to the consulate and they actually accepted my old FBI background check that didn’t even have the authentication stamp. Had to get an affidavit, then notarized and authenticated by the state, and finally an apostille for the state.

        Long story short. Visa process is done and I’m getting my visa tomorrow :o. So fast.

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          Wow, well I’m glad it worked out! While the consulates don’t seem to be flexible with documentation, it appears they do have their occasional exceptions, so glad to hear it came together for your Visa. Have a good year in Spain!

  58. avatar Courtney says:

    I am SO happy I found this thread, I thought I was the only one who was being sent through a loop. I literally feel like I’m going through the 7 gates of hell trying to get a visa JUST to go back and study! Let’s see if anyone can help me decipher my particular situation. Just to make it known, I live in Florida and the Spanish consulate I have to deal with is the one in Miami, so if anyone has ANY experience, it would be lovely to have some input on them! My visa appointment is on November 7th and I haven’t even gotten an acceptance letter from the center in the states yet. Plus since I live quite a ways away from Miami, this one time will be the ONLY time I may be able to go to the consulate. If the background check takes as long as I have heard it does, then I may be in some hot water. I talked to a friend who spent an academic year in Spain, and he didn’t have to have ANY of his documents translated, yet MY instructions say so, so I have no idea.
    I am applying to go to Spain (Andalusia) and since my intended stay in spain is over 180 days (December to August) I have to do all the extra stuff (med certificate and background check). I’ve already emailed them with the same questions and I am awaiting their response..if I ever get one.

    I recently downloaded the instructions for the visa application from my consulate here in Florida (Miami) and it states: “Currently, the applicant may choose to bring, instead of the certificate from FBI, the State “Public criminal background check” issued by the Department of Law Enforcement” of Florida, Georgia or
    South Carolina. This document, either the FBI one or the Department of Law Enforcement one, has to be translated into Spanish and legalized with the Apostil Certification where police clearance letter was issued. If the applicant has spent six month or more during the last five years in another country, he/she must submit the police record from that country, legalized with the Apostil Certification and translated into Spanish. If the country is not part of the Haye Convention the document must be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then by the Spanish Consulate of that country.”

    A) I went to the FDLE website and it proved to be quite confusing. I don’t know where to start as to acquiring a background check statewide “Public Criminal Background Check”. I feel as if in doing so, the check would end up in the hands of the FBI anyway for verification. I currently resided in Alachua County, where I go to school and spend majority of the year (save for this year since I was in Spain), and I figured that since in the instructions it has that big OR to cater to just Floridians, would I be able to get a background check done here and would that be acceptable for the consulate. Or does it have to be on a statewide scale?

    B) Also, just so it’s stated, this isn’t my first time getting a visa to go to Spain. This year I lived in Spain from January 8th to August 6th. However, the last time my study abroad coordinator went on my behalf. Which brings be to the next point: Having to get a “Lack of criminal record” from Spain where I was in Andalusia. Since that document would already be in Spanish, would I still have to get it Apostilled? Better yet, how do I go about getting them to send me it? I’ve been in contact with the center at which I am going to study and they had no idea.

    C) Regarding the documents…which ones have to be Apostilled? The original English ones, the translated Spanish ones..or BOTH? Which ones need to carry the seal and which ones will the consulate only accept? I know I can get them Apostilled here in Florida if I mail them to Tallahassee. However, I don’t want to send off the wrong paper to get the seal and then find out that I sent the wrong one. And then after realizing this, have to send it alllll back to get it redone.

    A little more background: I’m trying to leave for Spain in December with my foreign exchange partner who I met in Spain. I’ll be living with her and her family for Christmas, so technically all of this has to be done and done by December 22nd (when we plan to leave – she has her ticket, I don’t). Does it sound possible??? HELP!
    This has by far been the WORST application process I’ve ever been through. And I’m not anymore at ease knowing that my visa application can be denied by the flip of a coin.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Courtney,
      I’m glad this thread could be of help to you, (or atleast for you to see that this is a problem for many people, not just you!)
      I can’t give you any solid answers, but here are my ideas and knowledge from my own experience regarding your issues:
      1. If you haven’t gotten a letter of acceptance, you will most definitely need this. However, there may be the possibility that you can show up for your meeting, and fed-ex in this document at a later time, opposed to having to miss the meeting altogether, jeopardizing the amount of time necessary for the consulate to process your Visa.
      2. Some consulates require documents to be translated, or have an apostille, etc. Each one is different, so it’s important to make sure you follow the rules for your own consulate. As far as translation, I am not sure the best way to go about it, but perhaps someone else who has gone through your consulate knows. (Or whatever you do, post your results here!)
      3. As far as the FBI Certificate or the State Police Report, it’s important to know exactly which one you will need. The FBI Certificate will take many weeks/months, where as the State Police Report can take days. I would contact your consulate by calling them and ask, and if it’s a State Police Report, is this something the police department in Alachua County can provide given that’s your area of residency.
      4. I don’t believe a Spanish issued document needs to have an apostille for the Spanish consulate, but would double check.
      5. Regarding which documents need apostilles and translations, again I would call the consulate, and if you are shy, I would not worry because when I had issues with my Visa, I too called my consulate in L.A. and spoke to them in English since the topics were quite confusing as you know. The phone call helped clear up my questions.

      Getting Visas is very complicated, but I hope it works out! Good luck and post any updates!

      • avatar Courtney says:

        Thank you so for your reply! Seeing that it is the Miami consulate, they are ALWAYS busy. I have called and emailed, but to no avail. Kinda getting discouraged.
        Have you heard anything about the rule of getting a new visa and having to wait a period of time in order to do so?
        For example: My prior visa (since I lived in Spain this year already) lasted until July 15, 2011, however I lived there until August 6th. This time around, since it’s already expired, I have to apply again. But I heard that you have to wait 3 months counting from the day that you entered the country again in order to even apply to get a new one. Have you heard this before? I had no idea and set my appointment for November 7th, which is exactly 3 months to the day I returned.

        As far as the paperwork, it got even more confusing. Since I lived in Spain for over 6 months, we are now unsure if I have to get JUST the Spanish background check, JUST the one from the USA, or BOTH. The visa instructions aren’t really too clear about this issue so I’m just here guessing what to do.
        Since I’m not physically there in Spain it’s proven to be quite a challenge and I’m afraid that by mailing things, it will take a lot of time for it to go and get back. No idea at all. :/

        To my luck, NO ONE has posted anything about Miami consulate so I have no idea how to go about things. So hopefully after all of this stuff I will be the first one and will be able to give some help about my specific consulate.

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          I haven’t heard that rule about waiting 3 months, but if it’s true then at least your appointment will fit that timeline.
          If you lived in Spain for longer than 6 months, then I would say there is a definite possibility that you will need the Spanish background check too. If this is the case, then the way to go about it is by applying for it here: – Specifically here:

          I am planning on writing a blog post about this process, so I’ll keep you updated. Thankfully applying for this Spanish background check is in fact less tedious than you would think.

        • avatar Ben Raznick says:

          In case you need the Spanish Criminal Record Certificate, here is the blog post I just wrote about it. Hope it is helpful!

  59. avatar Ebert S says:

    I have a question…..I have a situation here. I finally got my FBI background check and i already sent it to washington. The problem that i have is that the check that i wrote. I didnt make it out to the US state department. I left it blank with only the amount, date, and my signiture. What should I Do?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hm… I have a feeling the US State Department will just be able to write that part in for you and everything will be Ok. (I hope!) It was a cashier’s check right?

  60. avatar Diego A says:

    This is one question that my head will answer right away with negativity…

    If I am outside of the United States, and found a job but I am needed to bring my Criminal Background Check as a requirement to be hired.

    How can I do this, if I am out of the country?

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hmm, I’m not quite sure other than I think you will have to meet all the same requirements in order to receive the background check. Can you get your fingerprints done abroad and ship it to the US? Or will you take a trip back home to the US anytime soon?

  61. avatar Alex M says:

    I wasn’t planning a trip to Spain but to Korea,
    nevertheless this was REALLY helpful.
    Thank you guys,


  62. avatar Jim says:

    I got my FBI check an apostille by using a company it was $45 with shipping included and it was less than a week total time even with shipping. But like Ben said … IMPORTANT: Write that you need the FBI Certificate “Authenticated” in order to get the Apostille.

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hey Jim, glad to see it came back so fast. Probably worth the $45 dollars seeing how long the process can actually take.

  63. avatar Ally says:

    SO glad I found this. omg. I was going nuts trying to figure this part out. I have never done anything like this so, thank you for laying it out step by step for us!

    Question though, I noticed this is a year old. Does this all still apply even to now?

  64. avatar Stephanie says:

    Hello Folks,

    I hope this finds you well!

    I write simply to say thank you… I am going to serve a similar function in Spain and just began the process of applying for a visa, etc. You all, whether through your questions or your responses, have helped make this process easier.

    Best wishes!

  65. avatar Opal LaVon says:

    Yesterday after getting my placement in Andalusia, I immediately sent out the materials for my FBI background check. The check should be returned to me within eight weeks, which is fine seeing as my VISA appointment isn’t until the 8th of August. The issue I’m having however is having time to have it apostled afterwards.

    For the FBI background check, is it necessary to send it to Washington DC to get the apostle stamp? Or can I have it apostled at my Secretary of State here in Indiana? If I have to send it to Washington after the eight week wait, that will put the total process of sed background check at 12 weeks, which overshoots my VISA appointment and quite possibly my departure date. Please help with any detailed information and/or advice!! :[

    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Opal.
      The amount of time it takes to get the FBI Background Check and then the Apostille from Washington DC seems to always cause problems. From past years, the consulate would accept a photocopy of your FBI Background Check in order to get the process started, and then when it came back from DC with the Apostille, you have to send it to the consulate to finish the Visa. Hopefully that will work for you as well!

  66. avatar Marisa says:

    Hi Ben,

    The program let us know only last week (May 21) that we were accepted. I am slightly freaking out on how to handle this background check. Do you know if state background checks can be apostilled and how that happens? I don’t know how I will be able to fit in waiting for my FBI background check to happen and then having to apply for a visa all before the end of September.


    • avatar Ben Raznick says:

      Hi Marisa,
      State background checks can be given an Apostille from your own Secretary of State department. It is the FBI Background Check that requires you to send it to Washington DC for an Apostille.

  67. avatar Alaina R. says:

    Hi, I just had a quick question. I already have my state background check done; a notarized one is being sent in the mail to me. Can I use that instead of the FBI one to get my apostille? The lady I talked to had no idea what an apostille was so was sending me my backgrounds check notarized and said that was all she could do. Thanks!

  68. avatar Alex says:

    Hello, so I sent my FBI check to be apostilled and thought it would take 10 days. I called and they don’t know how long it will take as its in their mail room. If I drive there will I be able to retrieve it? I need it ASAP!

  69. avatar Lauren says:

    I was wondering about getting a state police background check, instead of an FBI background check. The documents required for a student visa include either an FBI or a state police background check, so I plan on driving to the capital of my state to obtain this, which on the website says that it takes 30 minutes to process, as opposed to 3 months. Has anyone taken this route instead? I think it will save a lot of time.

  70. avatar Michelle says:

    I’m freaking out. I didn’t know a background check took so long and this whole Apostille business!! I am just starting in JULY!! Am I going to miss the deadline???

  71. avatar Liz says:

    FYI I believe this document is now also required in order to request an apostille via mail.
    Ds-4194 :

  72. avatar Heather says:

    On the cover letter (form for authentications service), there is a field to fill in the document you need authenticated (FBI Criminal Background Record) and the country. Does anyone know if you are supposed to put United States or Spain for the country?


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