The dreaded apostille

Having worked for the federal government in one capacity or another over the course of my career, I have a deep understanding of how frustrating bureaucracy can be. Therefore, I like to highlight moments when things work not only quickly and smoothly (so far), but I walk out of the office with a smile on my face.

Long story short, I went to drop off my FBI background check to be apostilled by the State Department this morning. The process takes about 72 hours, so today’s trip was just part one. I dropped off my precious letter from the FBI (after all those months of waiting, I was loath to let it go), along with a completed DS-4194 form, and got my receipt which stated that I should return in three days to pick it up. The entire process took about 15 minutes – a minor miracle.

For those of you who live in the greater Washington, DC area and are planning to use the Department of State’s walk-in service like I am, here’s how it goes:

  1. Complete your DS-4194 form and print it out. It’s a fairly straightforward form, but there are instructions on the last page of the form if you have questions.
  2. Bring that form and your FBI CRC to the State Department’s Office of Authentications (600 19th Street NW) – they are conveniently open 8:00-9:00am, Monday – Friday. Even though it didn’t take me that long, I would recommend getting there as close to 8:00 as possible. The waiting room was already full when I got through the security check, looking depressingly like the DMV. Not everyone is there for the same service, of course, so you’re not in line behind all of them, but still…
  3. At the Check-In window, the staff will give you a 2-page form to fill out and a number slip showing your place in line. The two pages have identical information – one of them will be attached to your papers while they are processed, and one will be given back to you (this is your receipt, so DON’T LOSE IT).
  4. Wait for your number to be called and go to the appropriate window. The staff there will do a cursory check of your documents and give you back your receipt page with instructions to come back in three days.


That’s it! Just hold onto your receipt and hopefully three days later you will be picking up your lovely apostilled background check.


UPDATE:  I’m so excited to say that I successfully picked up my apostilled background check this morning (Sept 1st)! I got there a little later than I had on Monday (around 8:30), so I had to wait a little longer to be called to a window, but after that it was a quick process to hand over my receipt, receive my apostille, and pay the $8 processing fee. Now to safely tuck it away in my documents folder for January…



One thought on “The dreaded apostille

  1. Pingback: Truly EPIK amounts of paperwork | Events & Excursions

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