So, you’re an American thinking about moving abroad to teach but don’t know what documents you need. Look no further than this article! I will explain the typical documents you need in order to secure a working visa to move abroad. Please note that these documents are always subject to change due to shifting visa policies by the laws of the country.

First and most obvious is a passport. This document is required for you to travel anywhere outside of your home country. For Americans, you can visit your local post office to obtain paperwork to apply for your passport or you can visit this website here:

What if you already have your passport? Make sure it’s valid for at least 2 years past the date of your intended entry into the foreign country to work. Your resident permit is good for a year and they won’t issue a resident permit if your passport has less than one year of validity remaining. You can also figure out how to renew your passport through the link above.

Second is a bachelor’s degree. This document is crucial just like your passport and can affect your ability to arrive if you need to order one from your university. If you are looking to move abroad but haven’t applied, I highly suggest ordering it ahead of time so this doesn’t delay your intended arrival date.

Next is a police check. Governments require you to prove you do not have a criminal record in your home country with some having a zero-tolerance policy like China. How to obtain a police check varies from county to county and state to state. For some, you can simply walk in, give your information, and walk out. Others will require you to apply at a specific office and will receive your results in 7-10 days. Please call ahead of time so you know what to do in your state.

Two important things to note for your police check: It must state your full legal name on the check that is stated in your passport and it has a six-month validity period from the date of issue. If you’re working with a recruiter, please check with them prior to obtaining one.

Of the two remaining documents, a medical check may be required. Some places require a clean bill of health before arriving in the country. Please check to see if this is needed before scheduling a medical appointment. For China, this means having no communicable illnesses like TB, HIV, Hepatitis, etc. Sometimes a special form from the government will be given to be filled out by a doctor. Make sure to bring that will you if that is the case.

Last but not least, your 120HR Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate (TEFL)! If you’re going to teach English overseas, this is a crucial document. With EF, we sponsor a TEFL course we are partnered with for those who do not have it. For those that already have it, make sure you have the hard copy along with some sort of course syllabus for what the course entailed. Most globally recognized TEFL institutions include it on the backside of the diploma. If not, you can request a formal syllabus from the institution.

These are the key documents required to get you started on your journey to teach abroad! While they are not needed at the moment of your application to a company to work abroad, you will need to obtain them as soon as possible should you be offered a position and start working on your documents. Best of luck on your first steps to work abroad!

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