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If you want to apply for a Professional Work Visa (Visa Temporaria para Profesionales) in Chile you have to submit a legalized copy of your university diploma. Chile is not a member of the Apostille Convention so they require a legalized diploma which is not the same process as getting one apostilled. Some universities may be familiar with legalizing a diploma but many are not and it’s your responsibility to ensure they follow the proper procedure or else Chile will reject your diploma.

Keep in mind that not every work contract or job in Chile will require a Professional Work Visa, for many jobs you can just apply for a Subject to Contract Visa (Visa Sujeta a Contrato). If your company is offering to apply for a Subject to Contract Visa, which means you can only legally work for the company you have the contract with, and you do not want the ability to work for another company during your time in Chile, then you’re in luck as the Subject to Contract Visa does not require a legalized diploma.

The first step in legalizing your diploma is to e-mail your local Chilean Consulate in the United States; this the Chilean Consulate closest to your university. If you have a doubt as to which Chilean Consulate serves your university, e-mail the closest two and ask them just to be sure. There are Chilean Consulates in; Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Additionally there are Honorary Consulates in Boston, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Juan in Puerto Rico, which can also legalize your diploma for you.

Although I have laid out the basic steps for legalizing your diploma, I have only gone through the process in the State of New York and through the Chilean Consulate in the State of New York. Other states may have a different process to verify the signature of the Notaries. I advise e-mailing the Chilean Consulate prior to contacting your university to ensure that you provide your university with the proper steps. Make sure you are clear that you want it legalized and not apostilled to avoid mistakes and potentially having to repeat the process or paying for two diplomas.

Step 1: Order a new diploma from your university, and at the same time request that the University Registrar notarize the diploma. If you still have your original diploma you can use that as well, in which case you will need to send your original diploma to your university, but note that you will not get it back from the Chilean government after you submit it with your Work Visa application.

Step 2: After the university receives your diploma they will notarize it. In my case they attached a letter on their official letterhead with the notary statement on it.
Example form letter from the university:

Certification

     This is to certify that the document herein is a true, exact, complete and unaltered diploma of X who
     earned a X degree at X University on X date. It is in the ordinary course of the university’s business
     to produce the diploma and I am responsible for the creation and certification of the document.

     Signature
     Name
     University Registrar
     University Seal

     Notary public statement, seal, signature

Step 3: Pick up your notarized diploma from your University or have it mailed to you. This is where things can vary. The signature of the Notary must be verified. In the State of New York this can be done by sending/taking the notarized diploma to the Office of the County Clerk where the Notary is registered and asking them to provide a verification. (In my case they attached a secondary piece of paper with the notary seal to the letter from the university). In some states the County Clerk may be registered with the Secretary of State, in which case you will have to send or take your diploma there to have the signature verified. Do note that if you mail these documents you will need to provide a Money Order payable to the proper payee, as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope to get the documents mailed back to you. Make sure to confirm the fees directly with your local County Clerk or Secretary of State prior to mailing off your document as they will vary for each jurisdiction.

Step 4: Once you receive your notarized and verified diploma mail it along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to your Chilean Consulate as directed. You will also need to include a money order payable to the Chilean Consulate (Mine was to: Consulado de Chile). As of November 2013 the fees for the Chilean Consulate in the State of New York were $12 USD but make sure to confirm the payee, address and current fees.

Chilean Consulate Stamp

Chilean Consulate Stamp

Step 5: Once you receive your legalized diploma back from the Chilean Consulate, you will have to bring/send it to Chile. You will know if they legalized your diploma because it will have been stamped by the Chilean Consulate (Consulado General). They will include a statement verifying the Notary and stamps covering all the documents. The stamps on mine covers all the attached documents where they are stapled together so do not separate the documents or else you risk invalidating the legalization.

Step 6: You will then need to get your diploma stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores) office in Santiago Centro. Address: Teatinos 180, Santiago, Chile.

Optional Steps: If you think you might need to submit your diploma to other places in the future you can archive/file it at a Notary in Chile. Then should you need it in the future, you can request a copy from the Notary.

In some instances you may need to get your diploma translated, for an official translation, it should be sent to Translation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Departamento de Traducciones del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores). While it’s possible to get it translated in other places, this recommendation comes directly from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so to avoid any issues we would recommend to do it this way. They don’t list the cost on their website but you can pay in cash, half when you submit the document for translation and half when you receive it back.

Once you have done all that you can start your application for a Professional Work Visa.

If you are lucky and you or someone you know lives close to your university and can pick up your diploma and take it to your County Clerk or Secretary of State that will save you a lot of time spent sending the documents back and forth in the mail. Using that process I was able to get my diploma legalized in just a couple of weeks. If you’re thinking about doing it before you leave for Chile make sure you give yourself enough time to get it all done: if you’re mailing the documents I would give yourself at least a month to get it all done. If you’re already in Chile you will need someone in the United States to mail the documents and the Money Orders, as well as find a way to send you your legalized diploma in Chile. Although it may get to Chile through the regular US and Chilean Mail, it can be unreliable or take a long time to reach you so, despite the high cost, I would suggest paying for one of the international shippers like DSL, UPS or FedEx.

Please note that we have tried to include accurate information, but we cannot guarantee that the process will be the same for each applicant. We recommend that everyone contact the authorities in question, to confirm the entire process, prior to starting as these steps are subject to change and may be interpreted differently by different government offices and officials.

To learn more about Beth, read her bio!