For many people, arranging TEFL Legalisation and visas to travel can be a completely new experience. Being a TEFL teacher, chances are that you will be living and working in a foreign country under a working visa. So, get your documents ready, head to an embassy, and start using up some of those blank pages in your passport. We are here to give you a step-by-step guide on how to fly through this ´red tape´ procedure and be on your way to your new adventure as soon as possible!
More people than ever before are teaching abroad, thanks to an ever more globalised and borderless world. However, this also brings tighter restrictions on visas. When you get accepted to your dream TEFL job in China or Vietnam (only applies to the two countries mentioned) the next stage will be arranging your working or student visa. Working with embassies can sometimes be a bureaucratic rollercoaster, but we at the TEFL Institute are here to help you along each step of the way. Part of this process is ´legalisation´ or ´notarisation´ of your documents, the most common being your TEFL certificate and university degree.
Don´t worry if you´ve never done this before, we are here to guide you through each step of the way!
What is ´legalisation´ or ´notarisation´ of a document?
Legalising or notarising your degree, TEFL certification or criminal background check is a legal process to ensure that the document itself is legitimate and legally sound.
Governments expect incoming foreign TEFL teachers to prove the credibility and legitimacy of their qualifications, which makes sense when you think of the plethora of fake certifications available online.
Here are some clear steps on how to legalise or notarise your documents (they mean the same thing BTW):
- Submitting a request for your criminal background check (if required by your employer)
The cost of this document depends on your country of origin. Get in touch with your local police station to find out more. As a starting point, in Ireland there is no cost, the UK is approximately £25 and in the USA the cost is approximately $18. You may or may not need to have this document legalised; check with your employer and the embassy which will be issuing your visa.
- Visit a solicitor or public notary to legalise the document(s). The next step is to find a solicitor or public notary to legalise your documents). Google can show you exactly who and where they are. On average, the cost per document notarised is €40, but we recommend checking with the solicitor or public notary office what they charge.
- Send your document for an Apostille stamp (only if specifically requested by the embassy or your future employer)
- Make your way to the Embassy with your legalised documents and get that visa stamped onto your passport! If visiting the embassy in person isn’t possible there are many companies which offer visa services for this very process.
In-between these four easy steps, don´t forget to keep time in mind! It can take up to 8 weeks to be issued with your visa, so don’t delay in preparing your documents.
What is an Apostille stamp?
An “apostille stamp” is basically a fancy way of saying “internationally notarised” versus simply notarised.
You may be requested to get an ´apostille stamp´ on your documents, which translates to ´internationally legalised´ rather than just ´legalised´. Be aware of the signatory countries to The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (essentially the ´Apostille Convention´), as those countries not signed to the treaty require an apostille stamp. China and Saudi Arabia are two examples.
But again, don’t fret. Getting an Apostille stamp is also a relatively easy and manageable process. Only government bodies can issue an Apostille stamp, and since we are a UK accredited education provider, it is the UK Department of foreign affairs which will give you your Apostille stamp. There are a number of great companies in the UK who can help you with this process, and they tailor to the country you plan to teach in. Get in touch with us and we can guide you through the journey to the Apostille!
What is a Notary Public and where can I find one?
A notary public is someone (usually in the legal field) who is certified to legalise documents. Googling ´where is my nearest public notary´ will harbour all the information you need to find a solicitor or legal professional who can carry out the notarisation procedure for you. For TEFL teachers, legalising your documents ensures that your certifications are legally recognised and accepted by international schools.
What documents should I legalise before travelling abroad to teach?
Your future employer and the embassy which will issue your visa will tell you all this information (we also have expert knowledge on this area, so it will be one of the first things you know). Nevertheless, from our experience and expertise in teaching abroad, there can be a variety of documents requested to be legalised:
- University degree
- Criminal background check
- TEFL certificate
Bear in mind that you will need to cover the cost of each legalised document. However, once they are legalised you are set to transform TEFL into a lifelong passion.
How can the TEFL Institute help me with the legalisation process?
All documents must be legalised in their country of origin. With our offices are based in Ireland, we can carry out any legalisation or public notary procedure for you, and post it to you worldwide. This is the standard procedure if your future employer or visa issuing embassy only wants a standard public notary stamp on the documents.
Now, remember; has your future employer or visa issuing embassy asked for an Apostille stamp on your documents? If yes, get in touch with us (on our chat box, bottom right of your screen, for example) and we will use our expertise to get your documents legalised to exactly the standard required.
PHEW. We hope this paints a clearer picture for you on the legalisation/public notary process. But, if you are still not entirely sure, drop us a message or request a call from our expert team.
We are here to make this a smooth flowing procedure, and 99% of the time you don´t need to travel to an embassy or solicitor’s office; we can do it for you! Alternatively, there are a number of companies that we confidently recommend which offer legalisation services:
Top-Tips for legalisation of documents
Have TIME on your side. Posting documents and waiting for administrative bodies to sign them really takes time. Give yourself at least 4-6 weeks to prepare, post, and wait for the return of your newly legalised documents.
Send the ORIGINAL version of your document. Photocopied versions will not be accepted as official, and you will lose out on the money spent to have the document legalised.
Legalisation can be PRICEY, so plan ahead. We know it can be a frustrating upfront cost on top of your other TEFL investments. But trust us, it’s all worth it in the end when you are tuk-tuking through Hanoi! Put aside between €80-€150 for this process. The more documents you need legalised, the costlier it becomes.
Take a breath and CHILL. Legalisation can seem like a daunting bureaucratic red tape Everest at first, but we handle these requests EVERY DAY. You are in the right hands to guide you through this journey, and once you have done this you´ll be an expert too!