**Update** As of December 2007 (or earlier) it appears that the estimated time for an FBI Certificate of No Criminal Record is 16-18 weeks, not the shorter time it took when I wrote this post. They also say they do not officially expedite any requests, though if you write the date you need it by on the envelope, and follow their directions, they may be able to.
If you are from the US and need a Certificate of No Criminal Record for a residence or work permit abroad, here is the TEFL Logue’s advice:
- Follow the instructions on this site to the tee.
- This means that if you need the document expedited (and just trust me, you do) write the date and reason you need it by on the outside of the envelope too, in addition to specifying it and the reason in the text of the cover letter. This is important because if you don’t specify on the outside of the envelope, your request will get put in the queue with all the other requests – if you specify, it can be done in 7-10 business days; if not, it will take the full 8 – 10 weeks.
- The reason is “to apply for work and residence permits in such and such country” and a date about three weeks into the future should work.
- Make sure to request a letter that the FBI does not provide an apostille. Some countries require this additional certification and some will accept the letter, some will not.
- If the country you want to work in does not accept the letter, you need to get an apostille from the Secretary of State office of the state in which you are a resident. Certainly it’s easiest if you are there in person, but if you’re already abroad, it’s possible for another person to do it.
- To get the apostille: go to a notary and have the document notarized as a true and exact original (you pay for this, possibly up to $40). You get a paper and stamp from the notary, and then go to the Secretary of State office with a check (for $2.00 in the case of Illinois), or send what you need, where they put a stamp (the apostille) on the document.
- Especially if you are overseas, find out if you need this apostille before the document is, for example, Fed Ex-ed to you without it and you have to Fed Ex it right back and then have it Fed Ex-ed to you a second time.
- Right now you need an ink set of fingerprints – on an appropriate form – for the certificate and this is only about one hundred times easier to do from home. In some countries, officials only take electronic fingerprints, or they may not be “authorized” to fingerprint just anyone. Police may not even take fingerprints because in some countries everyone is fingerprinted at the city council for their state ID. At home, just print out the appropriate form and go to a police station and ask to be fingerprinted.
If you really enjoy reading about red tape, read the FAQs and also be on the lookout for TEFL Logue posts Certificate of No Criminal Record, My Story: Parts 1 – 17.
In all seriousness, use my ideas in this post as tips but for goodness sake make sure you do it right and don’t blame me if something goes wrong .