All the Documents You Will Need to Teach English Abroad
2018-05-15 Mark Crocker Visa and Legal
If you have completed your TEFL certification course and are getting ready to head overseas to teach, you are certain to have plenty of things to organize. One area that often causes unnecessary stress is ensuring you have all the documents you will need to make the move. Luckily, this process is not as difficult as you might imagine. Although the exact requirements will vary from country to country and job to job, if you follow our straightforward breakdown you should find you have everything you need when you need it.
The Essential Documents
A Passport Valid for at Least Two Years
It might seem obvious but many new teachers have got on the plane to start their new life abroad only to find that their passport’s expiry date is a real problem. The bottom line is that most countries will not let you in if your passport has less than six months validity and at least a year is often required when applying for visas and work permits. Although you might only be planning to stay for a year, a lot can happen in that time and your plans may change. To keep your options open and stress levels to a minimum it is much better to start out with a long-lasting passport than to have to renew it later on from outside your home country.
A High-Quality TEFL-Based CV
Although it is true that there are plenty of teaching jobs available in all corners of the world, in order to land the best positions you should ensure that your CV is up-to-date and relevant for the type of jobs you are applying for. Obviously, your TEFL qualifications should be highlighted, along with any observed teaching practice or lesson planning involved. You should also make the most of any experience that might be relevant to teaching English abroad, such as volunteer work, management experience, or working in a team environment. Whatever your work or academic history, you should create your CV to highlight all your strengths and to help you stand out from the competition.
A Unique and Meaningful Cover Letter
For convenience it is easy to create a cover letter for your job applications using a standard template, however, this might not be the best approach. From the point of view of the employer, they often have to hire foreign teachers based on nothing more than a phone call or web interview and the contents of a CV and cover letter. By making the most of your cover letter you can really stand out by letting the employer know why you want to teach abroad, why you have chosen their country, and why you want to work for them in particular. Your cover letter is often the first thing the employer will see so you should do all you can to make a great first impression.
While reference letters are not always required by employers, it is a good idea to get 2 or 3 organized before you might need them. A good reference from a former teacher, college professor, or workplace manager can add some real weight to your job applications. Don’t be afraid to provide the referee with some guidance as to the contents you would like included and also don’t be afraid to approach them in the first place as most people will feel flattered to be asked.
The ‘Just-In-Case-You-Need-Them’ Documents
Criminal Record Background Check
The exact name of this document will vary depending on your home country, but in the US for example, it is known as an FBI Background Check. Whatever the official name of the document, its relevance is to prove you have a clean record with nothing to hide. These checks are not required in many countries at the time of writing, but South Korea does require it and more are sure to follow in the coming years. As with most official documents, these are much easier to obtain before you leave home rather than applying for it from another country.
As above, sealed university transcripts are not widely necessary except in South Korea and most countries in the Middle East. As rules frequently change and you can’t always be sure where your travels will take you, it might be a good idea to have these with you when you set off.
University Degree Apostilled and Notarized
Once again, these are generally only required in South Korea and the Middle East at the time of writing, but this could change at any time. Apostille providers can be found via an online search or you can contact your university directly.
Although not a necessity as they can be acquired wherever you are in the world, you will be amazed at how many passport photos are required in some countries. In many parts of the world, a passport photo is required with almost every official form or document you fill out so you may want to take a supply with you from the start. Just remember to have a white background and to dress in a professional manner.
The ‘Wait-Until-You-Arrive’ Documents
In most cases, your work visa or permit will be organized by your employer once you arrive in the country. The process is often long and complicated and not something you need to worry about as they will have been through it many times before. All you need to do is confirm during the interview process whether you need to bring any specific documentation as mentioned above and then leave the rest to the employer. Your employer should also confirm what kind of initial entry visa you need. This is usually a simple tourist visa issued on arrival at the airport.
In the majority of countries, there are no requirements for medical tests or examinations, although there are a few exceptions. For example, a work permit application in Thailand requires a test for Syphilis and in Saudi Arabia, you might need a test for HIV-AIDS. However, if any medical tests or examinations are required they should be done after you have arrived in the country so there is no need to worry about them in advance. The only exception to this would be in the case of travel vaccines. A quick bit of online research will reveal if any vaccines are recommended for your chosen destination and these should then be arranged before departure.
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