Backpacking Teacher

Travel, teaching and things in between. Saigon is the focus for now.

Paperwork, DFAT, obscure signatures and pretty girls.

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back on the bus again 

The paperwork, oh the paperwork. Just in case I find myself one day cursing the red tape of Vietnam let me describe some of the red tape I’ve had to go through here in Sydney.

In order to teach in Saigon I need a teaching degree and I need a police clearance. The teaching degree was no problem (I have one of those tucked away somewhere). The police clearance was a bit more problematic. All teachers in NSW are police cleared to work with children but I didn’t have any documentation for that. No worries – the police station was just around the corner. I go in, decide to go for the vanilla version ($55) of the police clearance rather than the fingerprint version and am assured that while it can take up to 10 days it’ll most probably just take 3 days.

11 Days later and no police clearance. I contact them to be told that it was sent out but they’d send me out another one anyway. 5 days later I have the police clearance. Seems I’m not a criminal. Well, at least not in their eyes.

Now that I have the required documents I am advised that I need to have them either notarised or authorised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

As a general rule, countries that are party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents require an Apostille on documents which qualify as Australian public documents.  A full list of countries that are party to this convention can be found at the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.

I love this – this convention calls for the abolishing of legalisation of documents but has in itself some formal requirement for processing of paperwork which, incidentally costs you more than if you go to a country (which includes Vietnam) that hasn’t signed up to abolish “the requirement for legalisation” of documents – oh the irony.

Anyway back to the story …. Now last time I dealt with DFAT (in Indonesia) I was trying to figure out which of my drinking buddies were spooks while drinking the free beer they were plying me with. DFAT have only been good to me in the past – they used to put on Friday drinks in Jakarta for all expats so I have a bit of a soft spot for them.

So I toddle along to DFAT in Sydney. There I am told that the University degree has an unrecognised signature on it (despite the fact that it has both the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor’s signature on it!). I am advised that the only signatures from the university that DFAT recognised are some minor cogs in the wheel located at obscure campuses nowhere near me. I don’t get annoyed though for three reasons, the first is because DFAT used to give me free drinks, the second is that in my mind I’ve prepared myself for some paperwork hell in the next few months, the final reason is that the girl serving me is very friendly and quite a looker.


back across the bridge

So I toddle off (again), take the bus back to my apartment. Jump in my car, drive halfway across town. Pay a small fortune to park and then attempt to locate some minor apparatchik of the University. Engage in some meaningless but friendly banter – wait half an hour for four bits of paper to be stamped. Then I drive back across town. Of course now it’s too late to go back to DFAT.

The next day I head off to DFAT. Another friendly lass but not quite the looker. Seems that the bits of paper I’m going to have signed, ribboned and waxed (that’s what authorisation translates as, it seems) will cost me $140. Ouch.

So …. next time I find myself in some bureaucratic nightmare of paperwork in Vietnam I’ll try to keep in mind my paperwork trail here in Oz.



Written by backpackingteacher

December 17, 2008 at 2:31 pm

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