Please, please take over my health insurance.

When you move overseas, there are documents you need in order to get a visa that will allow you to live in the host country. In order to keep from having to get ridiculous numbers of certifications on these documents, many countries are members of a treaty that allows one certification, called an apostille, which is accepted by all other member countries.

Now, that’s actually a pretty good idea. Standard form, everybody agrees to recognize it. Great.

Here’s how this should work: You go to the state website, click the documents you want, enter the applicable info, click “Apostille” and “Expedite,” give them your credit card info, and it arrives in a week.

Here’s how it actually works. The office that gives the seal isn’t the same one that gets the documents. So you have a few steps.

  1. Write (yes, write) the Vital Records office in the applicable state, ordering a certified copy of the document (in this case, a birth certificate).*
  2. Include a money order for the fee. That involves a trip to the bank, kids.
  3. Wait about two weeks.
  4. Upon receipt of this document, send it to the apostille office, which is in the same city– probably the same building– as the office in step 1.
  5. Send them a check because they’re slightly ahead of the Vital Records office.
  6. Wait about two weeks.

All of this assumes things work properly. So far, out of our 5 documents that’s happened once. I sent Sam’s and Foard’s birth certificates to the same office on the same day, about a month ago. Sam’s arrived pretty promptly. Still waiting on Foard’s. And still waiting on Melissa’s birth certificate (step 1) from Georgia. Oh, and our marriage license has to be signed by hand, so I have to order one of those from the county where we were married.

*Surprisingly, the state of South Carolina (motto: “Thank God for Mississippi”) has the best system and turnaround of the three states I’m dealing with, with a fill-out-and-and printable PDF and an expedite option.

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Comments

  1. my state (NJ) might top some of your experiences: they don’t put mothers’ and/or fathers’ names on birth certificates for privacy reasons. so what’s the point of the birth certificate, the czech republic asked me, just to prove you were indeed born? it almost cost us our visas getting rejected the first time. scary.

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