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Visas and background checks

Depending on your nationality and the location you choose for your TEFL course, you may need a visa and/or a background check before you go. Here's everything you need to know.

Visas

When travelling to take the TEFL course in one of our locations, you'll most likely need a visa. Have a look here for what you need.

Please remember though that visa rules can change. While we keep this information as up-to-date as we possibly can, we also recommend that you do your own research to be absolutely sure that you have the correct information for your particular situation.

Rest assured as well that you'll have detailed visa help from us and from our partner centre when you enrol on the course.

  • Cambodia

    To enter Cambodia you need either a T Class (tourist) visa or an Ordinary Visa E Class.

    T Class visa

    If you don’t plan to teach in Cambodia after the course, a T Class visa is sufficient. It’s valid for 30 days and can be renewed once for a further 30 days without leaving the country. You can get a T class visa in advance through the Cambodian government website or through your local Cambodian embassy or consulate. The visa costs around $30 USD. If you apply through the government website, you’ll notice that it’s described as an “E visa”. This is not to be confused with the “Ordinary Visa E Class” – it’s just the name they give to their online application process for T Class visas.

    For most nationalities, you can also get a T Class visa on arrival, although it’s important to check beforehand that your country is approved by the Cambodian government for on-arrival visas – check via your Cambodian embassy or the relevant Foreign Affairs department for your country.

    Ordinary Visa E Class

    If you plan to stay and teach in Cambodia after the course, it’s best to enter on an Ordinary Visa E Class. These are also valid for 30 days and can be obtained from a Cambodian embassy or at the port of entry. They can be extended once for one, three, six or twelve months. If you extend for six or twelve months, you’ll be able to leave and re-enter the country as many times as you like, and open a bank account in Cambodia. When you secure a teaching job, your employer will sponsor your work permit and have it processed, along with the visa extension. For your work permit, you’ll need your TEFL certificate, a background check from your home country not more than six months old, and your degree certificate (if you have one – it’s not required). These don’t need to be notarised and legalised, but it’s a good idea to get this done anyway – visa rules can change, and this will cover you for that eventuality.

    While your work permit is being processed, you may have to do a “border run” to get a new visa. This is a simple process – it involves putting aside a day to take a bus from Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border. It costs around $120, which includes the cost of the visa.

    A twelve-month work permit and visa together will cost approximately $500-530 USD (possibly a little more, possibly a little less). Your employer may or may not reimburse this cost, and it’s important to clarify this in your teaching contract from the outset.

  • Costa Rica

    Most nationalities don’t require a visa to enter the country, and you’ll automatically receive an entry stamp at immigration valid for 90 days.  Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months from your entry date into Costa Rica, and you may need to show proof of onward tavel and funds sufficient for the duration of your stay.

    For some nationalities the entry stamp is only valid for 30 days, and for a few nationalities a visa is required – please see this page for more information.

    At immigration, you should state “tourism” as the purpose of your trip. If you state “study”, you may have to pay for a special visa, which is not necessary, as our TEFL course falls under the category of Educational Tourism.

    You can extend your stay beyond 90 days by making a short trip to Nicaragua or Panama, which are easily accessible, and then returning to Costa Rica.

    If you work in Costa Rica after the course, your employer will help you with the work visa process – this will depend on the length of your contract and the benefits provided.

  • France

    EU citizens

    If you’re an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to take the TEFL course or work – you can study and work legally in France.

    British and American citizens

    If you’re British or American, you will need to apply for a visa by one of the following two main options:

    1. Apply for a long stay visa by setting up as a freelance English teacher. For this, you’ll need to submit a business plan. Your TEFL course in Toulouse will be at the heart of this plan, and our partner centre will guide you through the procedure. For this type of visa you also need to show that you have savings equivalent to living on the French minimum wage.
    2. Apply for a student visa. If you enrol for French courses (our course gives you 15% off at the Alliance Francaise) you can legally work up to 20 hours per week. You would stay in Toulouse for a minimum of 5 months, the first month of which is your TEFL course. You would normally study French in the mornings, leaving you free to teach for the rest of the day. The French courses would cost around 500 euros per month, so this option is for those who want to improve their French and have the budget to do so. Please note that this method doesn’t guarantee you work, it just allows you to work legally while you are studying. Our partner centre will guide you through the procedure for this type of visa.

    Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens

    If you’re from Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can come to France on a Working Holiday visa for a year. You need to be under 30 (35 for Canadians). This visa allows you to work on a contract with a language school. Canadians can extend it while in France.

    If you have a different nationality, please get in touch, we’re here to help.

  • Guatemala

    Most nationalities don’t require a visa to enter Guatemala, and you’ll automatically receive an entry stamp at immigration valid for 90 days. Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months from your entry date into Guatemala.

    For some nationalities a visa is required – please see this page for more information. 

    At immigration, you should state “tourism” as the purpose of your trip. If you state “study”, you may have to pay for a special visa, which is not necessary, as our TEFL course falls under the category of Educational Tourism.

    You can extend your stay beyond 90 days by making a short trip to Mexico or Belize, which are easily accessible, and then returning to Guatemala.

    If you work in Guatemala after the course, your employer will help you with the work visa process – this will depend on the length of your contract and the benefits provided.

  • Italy

    EU citizens

    If you’re an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to take the TEFL course or work – you can study and work legally in Italy.

    British and American citizens

    If you’re British or American, you will need to apply for a student visa. With a student visa, you can legally work, normally for up to 20 hours per week. Getting a student visa involves enroling to study Italian at a local school or university, which leaves you free to teach at language schools or freelance in the afternoons/evenings and at weekends. With this option, you need to factor in the cost of the Italian course when working out living costs and budgeting. Please note that this method doesn’t guarantee you work, it just allows you to work legally while you are studying. Our partner centre will guide you through the procedure for this type of visa.

    Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens

    If you’re from Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can come to Italy on a working holiday visa for a year. You need to be under 30 (35 for Canadians). This visa allows you to work on a contract with a language school.

    If you have a different nationality, please get in touch, we’re here to help.

  • Peru

    Most nationalities don’t require a visa to enter Peru, and you’ll automatically receive an entry stamp at immigration valid for up to 183 days. (Immigration officials typically issue a shorter, 90 day visa unless you politely request one for 183 days). Your passport needs to be valid for 6 months from your entry date into Peru, and you may need to show proof of onward tavel.

    For a few nationalities a visa is required – please see this page for more information.

    At immigration you’ll receive a tourist card, which you need to present again at departure. You should state “tourism” as the purpose of your trip. If you state “study”, you may have to pay for a special visa, which is not necessary, as our TEFL course falls under the category of Educational Tourism.

    You can extend your stay beyond 90 (or 183) days by making a short trip to Bolivia, which is easily accessible, and then returning to Peru.

    If you work in Peru after the course, your employer will help you with the work visa process – this will depend on the length of your contract and the benefits provided.

  • Thailand

    Step 1. Tourist visa

    To enter Thailand you’ll need a tourist visa. This can be either a single entry visa with 90 days of validity (an initial 60 days, extendable by 30 days) or a multiple entry visa with 180 days of validity. With a multiple entry visa, you’ll need to leave and re-enter the country twice, and apply for two 30 day extensions to get the full 180 day validity. Tourist visas allow you to attend short training courses such as a TEFL course.

    Step 2. Non-Immigrant B visa

    Once you have secured a job after the course, you’ll convert your tourist visa to a Non-Immigrant B visa. You can do this either at a local immigration office or by doing a visa run to a neighbouring country.

    Step 3. Work permit and Teaching Licence

    A Non-Immigrant B visa and a secured job allow you to apply for a work permit (sponsored by your employer), which in turn allows you to apply for a teaching licence. A teaching licence is required to legally work as a teacher in Thailand.

    Your employer will normally help you with the process of applying for the work permit and teaching licence.

    For the work permit you’ll need to provide your Non-Immigrant B visa, TEFL certificate, original Bachelor’s degree certificate, certified health check (carried out in Thailand), passport and passport photos.

    For the teaching licence you’ll need to provide your Non-Immigrant B visa, work permit, original Bachelor’s degree certificate, clean, certified criminal background check and passport photos.

    To summarise:

    1. Tourist visa
    2. Secure a job
    3. Convert tourist visa to Non-Immigrant B visa
    4. Apply for work permit
    5. Apply for teaching licence

  • Turkey

    To teach English in Turkey you’ll need a residency permit and work visa.

    Residency permit

    The residency permit allows you to live in Turkey once your tourist visa expires, but not to work. You’ll need:

    1. an application form
    2. your passport
    3. up to 6 passport photos
    4. a small application fee (which may or may not be paid by your employer)
    5. and proof of funds in your bank account to cover the duration of your stay or evidence that you will be earning money (i.e. a job offer)

    You can apply for a residency permit yourself at the police headquarters, but your employer should provide assistance with this. Before you receive the permit, you’ll need to obtain a tax number at the local tax office.

    Work visa

    Once you have secured a job, you’ll need the following to obtain your work visa:

    1. your original TEFL certificate
    2. your original Bachelor’s degree certificate
    3. your passport

    These need to be notarised and translated into Turkish. Again, your employer should help you with the process for the work visa. Some employers pay for the cost of the residency permit and work visa, and some don’t. It’s important to clarify this in your teaching contract from the outset.

  • Vietnam

    To enter Vietnam you need a tourist visa. These are valid for 30 days. If you have one of the 80 nationalities listed here you can apply for an e-tourist visa online here.

    Towards the end of your TEFL course you’ll do a “border run” to get a new 30 day tourist visa. This is a simple process – it involves taking the border run bus (yes, there is one!), that departs from Ho Chi Minh City every morning, to the Cambodian border. The bus waits for everyone to renew their visa and then comes back to Ho Chi Minh City. It takes half a day and costs around $115, which includes the cost of the visa.

    Once you have secured a job, your employer will apply for a work permit for you. To secure the job, you’ll need to show that your current Vietnam visa (your tourist visa) is valid, and that you have all of the necessary documents, properly notarised and legalised. These documents are:

    1. your degree certificate
    2. your clean criminal background check, not more than six months old
    3. your TEFL certificate
    4. a clean bill of health (arranged by your employer)
    5. if you are a non-native speaker, official test results showing your proficiency in English at C1 level or above

    Your new work permit and accompanying Temporary Resident Card (TRC) will be valid for two years. (The work permit allows you to work in Vietnam; the TRC allows you to stay in Vietnam!) Most employers reimburse at least 50% of the cost of these (currently around USD $440), either after a probation period or at the end of the contract.

Background checks


When travelling to some countries to take the course and/or to work, you will need to have a government or police background check in place before you go. This will normally need to be either notarised, apostilled, or both. Please see the FAQ for the course you are interested in to see whether or not you need a background check, and if in doubt, please get in touch, we're here to help.

Background checks are normally easy enough to obtain, and usually involve a small fee. Please follow the links for more information, depending on your nationality.

Please note, these links may not be the only way to obtain a background check - they're just the most common.

If you have a different nationality, you'll need to check with the relevant government or police department in your country.