As of 2011, all US citizens must submit an Apostilled copy of a Federal Criminal Record Check, obtained through the FBI. This copy must have been issued within the past 6 months. The process to obtain an FBI level Criminal Background takes at least 6 weeks, so US citizens must start the process ASAP.

IMPORTANT: In order for your FBI check to be apostilled, it must be pre-authenticated by the FBI. You must write a separate note asking the FBI to issue a pre-authenticated record check. It’s absolutely crucial to include this letter/memo when you submit your request! Pre-authenticated checks come with an FBI signature and seal.

Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information form (PDF)

Step 2: Obtain a set of your fingerprints.

Have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. Fingerprints should be placed on a Standard Fingerprint Form (FD-258). You can do this at a local police station. Your name and date of birth must be provided on the card.

For applicants in Korea: You can get fingerprinted at a local Korean police station (bring a Korean friend with you to help translate!) Or those in Seoul can go to the Permits & ID Office to the left of the USO office near Namyeong Station (Line 1) for fingerprinting.

Step 3: Submit payment.

Option 1: Obtain a money order or cashiers check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure to sign where required.

Option 2: Pay by credit card using the Credit Card Payment Form (pdf)Don’t forget to include the expiration date of the credit card that you are using.

Step 4: (IMPERATIVE!) Draft a letter that asks the FBI to issue a “pre-authenticated” record check so that you can have it apostilled at the Department of State. The FBI will NOT issue a pre-authenticated check unless you specifically request it. Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial to include this letter/memo when you submit your request.

Step 5: Mail all required items listed above—applicant information form, original fingerprint cardnote requesting pre-authenticated check, and payment to the address below (as of Aug 2011):

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306

 If you need to inquire about the status &/or progress of your request, you can contact the CJIS Customer Service Group at 1 (304) 625-5590. But please be aware that it takes 4-6 weeks from the time you apply for an FBI check to receive the results.


Apostilling a FBI Criminal Record Check

The FBI check must be authenticated with an Apostille from the Department of the State (DOS).

Only FBI check that has FBI seal and signature can obtain Apostil from the Department of the State.

IMPORTANT: Although some Secretary of State offices will Apostille FBI checks, the Korean education offices want Americans to authenticate their FBI checks through the Department of State (DOS). Therefore, all Americans need to use the DOS or a private company that deals with the DOS.

IMPORTANT: The Apostille authenticated policies for college/university degrees is different than the Apostille authentication process for FBI checks.

There are 2 ways to secure the Apostille authentication for an FBI check:

  1. Through the Department of State office (7-10 weeks) DOS Website
  2. Through a private company (expedited option 3-5 days) US Legalization Service Website



The Department of State typically requires 7-10 weeks to apostille FBI checks; this is in addition to the 8-10 weeks it takes the FBI to issue the actual check – it’s an incredibly lengthy process! To save valuable time (remember, jobs are filled on a first-come, first-served basis) Planet ESL strongly recommends using the expedited service with a private company. It will cost a little more (roughly $45 USD); however, it’s well worth the valuable time (3-5 days). Note: Planet ESL does not collect a fee for referring applicants to the expedited service. We recommend it because it’s in your interests to secure your documents as soon as possible.

Crucial: The Department of State will only Apostille FBI checks that were pre-authenticated by the FBI. Make sure to specifically request the pre-authentication for your check when you order it from the FBI. Include a memo with your order that asks for the “pre-authentication” so you can have it Apostilled by the DOS.

Do NOT, for any reason what so ever, remove the staples and/or damage the Apostille certificate. Korean Immigration will automatically reject any Apostille authentication that looks like it’s been tampered with (detached, re-stapled, etc.).