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March 31, 2023

US Document Authentication for the UAE

Are you moving to the UAE from the USA? Maybe you're already living there and wanting to bring a partner over, or start a business. Either way, you're going to have to attest some documents!
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Whether you're moving to to the UAE from the US, or you're there already, at some point you'll have to go through the process of attestation. Sometimes known as Authentication in the US, it's a process that helps verify documents from one country for use in another, so everyone knows that the documents are legitimate. Doesn't sound overly complicated, but every country does things a bit differently, which is where the complexity lies. If you're from the US and you're wanting to use your documents in the UAE (which I assume you are, if you're reading this article), you're going to have to go through a different set of processes than if you're from France and wanting to use your documents in China.

How do you authenticate a US Document for the UAE?

Attesting a US document for the UAE can be especially complex because each state has it's own rules and regulations on how things must be done. No two states follow the same process. If you have a birth certificate issued in Texas, but you went to college in California, the documents are going to have to go through two different processes, at least on a state level.

With all the different permutations, it's difficult to definitively say how the process works. Instead, I'll outline the general process that all US documents need to go through to be attested for the UAE to help you get started.

Attesting a US Document for the UAE can be difficult, costly and time-consuming, and there’s all manner of ways it could go wrong. Vital has you covered. We guarantee all documents we attest will be accepted first time, so you can rest assured they’ll be ready when you need them to be. Call us on +971 (0)4 871 6718, email us at hello@vitalcertificates.ae, or request a quote on our website here.

The US Document Authentication Process

  1. Certification - For most documents, the first step will be to have the documents certified. In the case of educational qualifications or translations, this certification will be handled by a US Notary Public. For original birth, marriage or birth certificates, a registrar in the issuing state will certify the document.
  2. State Authentication - The second step is to get the document authenticated in the issuing state by the Secretary of State. This involves having the document signed and sealed, and an authentication document attached to the front. This authentication is also sometimes referred to as an Apostille. If the document you're trying to attest was issued by a federal department rather than a state, you can skip this stage.
  3. Federal Authentication - After state-level authentication, US documents need to be authenticated on a federal level as well, by the Department of State in Washington. It's a similar process to the previous one - your document will be stamped and sealed and an authentication page will be attached to the front.
  4. UAE Embassy in Washington - Once the document has been through both federal and state level processes, it's finally ready to be stamped by the UAE Embassy. They'll attach their stamp on the front, which means it's ready to be verified in the UAE!
  5. MoFA Attestation - The final step is to have your document attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai, more commonly known as MoFA. This is usually the final piece of the jigsaw and ensures that your documents are ready to use in the UAE, so you can start thinking about work permits and residence visas for everyone involved.

Do US Documents have to be translated for use in the UAE?

Sometimes, but not always! (We never said this would be easy). It is possible to take a translation of a birth, marriage or death certificate from a scan and use the translated document to be process for use in the UAE. This initial step is only applicable to US Public Records. Attesting in this way is often used to avoid the expense and complication of having to return the original document to the individual state where it was issued prior to processing.

Otherwise, it's not common for an English-language document to have to be translated for use in the UAE, unless you've been explicitly told it is. Luckily, Vital can handle the translation process for you as well!

The attestation process is complex and there’s all manner of ways things can go wrong! If you’re having trouble, or just need a helping hand, feel free to call us on +971 (0)4 871 6718, email us at hello@vitalcertificates.ae, or request a quote on our website here.

Can't I do this myself?

While I've outlined the general process for attesting a US document for the UAE, things can change drastically between states as I mentioned before. There can be literally hundreds of permutations based on where your documents were issued, who they were issued by (state vs. federal) and what type of documents you have. Assuming you know exactly which documents you need to attest and the exact requirements for each one, you’ll then need to send them to both state and federal departments (in whatever combination is applicable for your documents) and the UAE embassy in Washington, before bringing them back to the UAE to get them attested with MoFA. Sounds like a lot of flying!

Between transporting your documents back and forth, finding a notary or a registrar, and all the trips between states, you’re not really saving yourself time or money. And considering that attestation is usually pretty time sensitive, and getting it wrong could even lead to job offers being rescinded (it’s happened before, trust me), is it really worth the trouble?

Alright, you’ve convinced me. How do I get started?

Don’t worry, Vital are on hand to help! We’ve been dealing with attestation since 2006, so you can trust we have the knowledge and the experience to help, no matter how complicated your situation! Get in touch using one of the methods below, and we’ll advise you on how to move forward. Or if you want a deeper dive into the intricacies of authenticating a US document for the UAE, check out our dedicated page here.

Request a quote on our website now. Our class-leading staff will look over your requirements and give you the most accurate quote for your use case.

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Get in touch by phone, email, or Whatsapp. We're available between Monday - Friday, 8:30AM - 5:30PM.

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Declan Ramsden

By Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Certificates. He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!
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