Published 28th September 2018


Knowing which documents you need to teach English as a foreign language abroad can be confusing because each country is different. The easiest way to see what documents you need is to look up the website of the Embassy or Consulate of the country you’re going to and have a look there. Meanwhile, here is short guide on the documents you might need.

Key documents you’ll need to work abroad


It goes without saying that one of the key documents you will need is  a passport that’s in date and is valid for the date you are due to come home. Some countries insist that you have at least one year left on your passport, so make sure you check this before you leave home.


Many countries require entry with a visa to teach English as a foreign language.

A useful web page if you are an American citizen is CIBT Visas which you can use to get information on what documents you need. The same company has a website for UK citizens at Visa Central and Visa Link for Australians.

If you are Canadian then have a look at the web page at Visa HQ and if you’re from South Africa you can use the web page at South Africa Travel Online.

TEFL Certificate

You will need your TEFL Certificate to show that you are qualified to teach English as a foreign language. You may need to get your certificate notarised and legalised. You can find out more about this process if you read our blog here.

University Degree or College Certificate

You will need to have a university degree to teach in some countries. Sometimes it’s not about your educational level, it’s about obtaining a visa or a work permit. A good example is China where you need a university degree to get a Z Visa. If you’re going somewhere where a degree isn’t necessary, it is still a good idea to make copies of your college or school certificates to show you have qualifications.

Criminal Background Check

Many countries want you to have a criminal background check before they will allow you to work teaching English as a foreign language. To find out how to go about getting a check, just google “how to get a criminal background check from” and then put your home country.

Medical Forms

Some countries will ask you to fill in a medical form either before or after your arrival. In some places, for example, in China you will also need a medical check-up within 30 days of entering the country. The form mostly asks questions about your medical history and if you have had any vaccinations.

You should now have a clearer idea of the key documents you need to work abroad. Have a check list of the documents that you will need.