How to obtain visas: teaching English abroad

Looking forward to moving abroad and starting your next adventure, but don’t know how to obtain a visa? You’ve come to the right place! Check out the requirements for teaching English in Asia, Europe, and Latin America…

Visas for Asia

With one of the highest demands for TEFL teachers in the world, Asia’s job market is definitely booming! TEFL hotspots tend to be in countries such as China, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam so you’ll never be alone. With thousands of people flocking there a year, you’ll easily be able to make friends, travel, and explore the world – sign us up!

China and South Korea

Types of visa:

If you’re heading over to South Korea as a TEFL teacher, you’ll need an E2 visa. This will allow you to work legally as a foreign language instructor whilst you’re away. It’s super important to get one of these before you leave your home country as it ensures that you’re working for a legitimate company. Employers tend to arrange visas with you before you depart and will even help sponsor you – yes please!

Considering China instead? Then you’ll be following a similar process! To work legally in China, you’ll need a Chinese Z visa. These are arranged before you embark on your adventure so make sure that you have one.

Required documents:

Employers in Southeast Asia love to see documentation, so don’t be put off if they ask for your transcripts! More often than not, South Korean and Chinese employers will ask for a copy of your passport, your degree, and your TEFL certification.


A multiple entry visa for both of these countries will cost around $90 USD, but this is often covered by your TEFL employer.

Valid for:

Multiple entry E2 visas can be renewed every 2 years. Chinese work Z visas can be renewed once a year.

Thailand and Vietnam

Types of visa:

If you’re looking to teach and beach then Thailand and Vietnam should be top of your list! To enter both of these stunning countries, you’ll need a tourist visa. These generally last around 2-3 months which gives you plenty of time to look for a job. Once you’ve found your perfect location and have landed your dream job, you can apply for a work permit with your school.

Required documents:

To work in Thailand and Vietnam, you’ll need to show a copy of your passport and TEFL certification.


A multiple entry Thai work visa costs around $164 USD. A 6-month multiple entry visa in Vietnam costs around $95 USD.

Valid for:

Both visas last for one year.

Woman living in Thailand with her work visa

Visas for Europe

Europe remains one of the most popular TEFL destinations for English teachers. Steeped in thousands of years of history and enriched with amazing architecture, it’s a great place to teach abroad. Plus, with a melting pot of cultures, you’ll make friends from all across the globe – amazing! Whether you’re into fiestas and siestas, city escapes or hiking up magnificent mountains, you’ll have the time of your life teaching here!

Western Europe – Spain, Italy, and France

Types of visa:

You can work as an English teacher on a student contract.

Required documents:

To work in Europe you’ll need to show a copy of your passport, TEFL certification, and in some cases, proof of sufficient financial means.


Student visas tend to come as part of your contract. So, if you’re arriving from a non-European country, it’s definitely worth looking for a job before you arrive! Thanks to the Schengen agreement, EU citizens can enter other European countries freely*, but you’ll still need a student contract to work here.

Valid for:

Work visas typically last for 9-12 months depending on how long your teaching contract is for.

World TEFL Guide FREE brochure

Eastern and Central Europe – The Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia

Types of visa:

Visa requirements for the Czech Republic and Poland are similar to the rest of Europe. However, they differ slightly for Russia. To work as an English teacher in Russia, you’ll need a specific work visa.

Required documents:

To work as a TEFL teacher in the Czech Republic and Poland, you’ll need a copy of your passport and TEFL certification. To become an English teacher in Russia, you’ll need a copy of your passport, a letter of invitation (from your employer), a work visa, and a HIV (AIDS) certification.


The cost of a Russian work visa can vary depending on your citizenship and type of employment. Generally speaking, Russian work visas cost around $105 USD.

Valid for:

Multiple entry visas in Russia last for up to 1 year.

Teaching English in Russia Visa

Visas for Latin America

Palm-fringed beaches, rugged mountains, and mouthwatering cuisine makes Latin America a popular destination for TEFLers young and old. With relaxed visa regulations and a high demand for English teachers, you’ll easily be able to find work and a visa here. From the Andes mountains to the Amazon rainforest there’s plenty to explore, so bring your sense of adventure!

Types of visa:

You can stay in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico for up to 90 days without a visa. But, to become an English teacher here you’ll need a work visa. These can be obtained through your employer and add an extra level of security to your stay.

Required documents:

To work as a TEFL teacher in Latin America, you’ll need a valid passport, TEFL certification, and letter of employment.


Schools, universities, and academies tend to sponsor your work visa.

Valid for:

Work visas in Latin America last for one year but can be easily renewed.

work visa for Latin America

Need a little extra help, then why not book a free call with one of our TEFL experts here. Or you can contact the consulate of the country you’d like to visit? This will give you specific requirements for your nationality, age, and level of education.

Happy TEFLing!

*Information correct as of October 2020; however, this is due to change after Brexit



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