TEFL Certificate Legalisation: How to Legalise Your Documents

TEFL Certificate Legalisation: How to Legalise Your Documents

Thanks to an increasingly globalised and borderless world, more people than ever are choosing to teach abroad. It’s great for seeing the world, exploring different cultures and seeking new challenges. But there are also righter restrictions on visas to contend with. When you land your dream TEFL job in China or Vietnam (these countries only), the next stage will be arranging your working or student visa. Working with embassies can be a bureaucratic rollercoaster, but our expert team is here to help you every step of the way. Part of this process is ‘legalisation’ or ‘notarisation’ of your documents. The most common is your TEFL certificate and university degree. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry! We’re here to help.

What is ‘legalisation’ or ‘notarisation’ of a document?

Legalising or notarising your documents mean the same thing. It’s a legal process to ensure your documents – like a degree, TEFL certification or criminal background check – are legitimate and legally sound.

Why does this happen? Governments expect incoming foreign TEFL teachers to prove the credibility and legitimacy of their qualifications, which makes sense when you think about it.

Man holding TEFL certificate
Here are some steps on how to legalise (or notarise) your documents:

Submit a request for a criminal record check or Garda clearance form if it’s required by your employer. How much this costs depend on your country of origin. In Ireland, there is no cost. But in the UK it’s around £25 and in the USA it costs approximately $18. Be sure to check with your employer or the embassy that will be issuing your visa if you need to have this document legalised.

Next, find a solicitor or notary public to legalise your documents. A Google search will show you who and where they are. The cost per document notarised will depend on the solicitor or notary public. But it’s usually around €40.

Send your document for an Apostille stamp (only if specifically requested by the embassy or your employer). In the UK, the standard service costs £30 per document, plus courier fees or postage.

Take your legalised documents to the embassy to get that visa stamped onto your passport! There are companies, which offer visa services, that can do this for you if you can’t go in person.

Remember to keep the timeframe in mind during these four steps. It can take 6-8 weeks to get your visa. So, don’t delay preparing your documents.

What is an Apostille stamp?

An Apostille stamp is an official certificate for legalisation, which confirms that a document has been signed by a notary public or other public official. You may be requested to get an apostille stamp on your documents. It means your documents will be recognised when presented in another country.

Be aware of the signatory countries to The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents – essentially the Apostille Convention. Countries not signed to the treaty require an Apostille stamp. China and Saudi Arabia are two examples.

Only government bodies can issue an Apostille stamp. Since the TEFL Institute is a UK-accredited education provider, the UK Department of Foreign Affairs will issue you your Apostille stamp. There are also companies that can help you with this process. Plus, they can tailor the service to the country you plan to teach in.

Get in touch with us and we can guide you through the apostille stamp process.

What is a Notary Public and where can I find one?

A notary is a qualified lawyer who is certified to legalise documents. You can Google “where is my nearest notary public” to find a legal professional who can carry out the notarisation process for you. It’s a very important procedure for TEFL teachers. Legalising your documents guarantees your certifications are legally recognised and accepted by international schools.

What documents should I legalise before teaching English abroad?

Don’t worry, your future employer and the embassy that will issue your visa will tell you this. Our team also has expert knowledge in this area, so we can help. From our experience teaching abroad, there are a variety of documents that can be requested to legalise including:

  • University degree
  • Criminal background check
  • TEFL certificate

Remember, you’ll need to cover the cost to legalise each document. Once they are legalised, you’re well on your way to transform TEFL into a lifelong passion.

How can the TEFL Institute help me with the legalisation process?

The TEFL Institute is a training centre approved and accredited by TQUK. As this is a UK-based accrediting body, your documents must be stamped and certified in the UK. We are based in Ireland, so we can carry out any legalisation or notary public procedure for you and post it to you worldwide. We can do this if your employer or visa-issuing embassy wants a standard notary public stamp only. If they’re asked for an Apostille stamp on your documents, get in touch with us and we can help get your documents legalised to the exact standard required.

We hope this clears up any questions you have on the legalisation/notarisation process. Remember, we’re here if you need any further assistance. 99% of the time you don´t need to travel to an embassy or solicitor’s office – we can do it for you! Other companies we recommend for legalisation services are Vanner Perez Notaries and Apostille & Legalisation Services.

Final top tips
  • Be sure to start the process in good time. Give yourself at least six weeks to prepare, post and wait for the return of your legalised documents.
  • Photocopies of your documents will NOT be accepted – you must send the original versions. Photocopies are not accepted as official, and you will lose the money you’ve spent to have them legalised.
  • Legalising your documents costs money, so plan ahead. Another upfront cost to add to your TEFL investment can be frustrating but trust us, it will be worth it. We recommend putting aside up to €300 for these costs. This can change in accordance with the Hague apostille. And the more documents you need legalising, the pricier it becomes.
  • Don’t let it worry you. TEFL legislation can seem daunting at first. Remember, we’re here to help you. We handle these requests every day. Once you’ve done this you´ll be an expert too!

Get in touch today if you need any help with your TEFL certificate legalisation.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it’s a certificate you need if you want to teach non-native speakers English. With a TEFL certificate, you can teach students of all ages – from young learners to adult business language learners – anywhere in the world. It’s recognised globally and is the key to kick-starting your English teaching career abroad, home or online.

To get a TEFL certificate you must take an accredited TEFL course. The minimum training required by employers worldwide is 120 hours. You can choose between accredited, government regulated Level 5 or combined TEFL courses. You’ll find TEFL courses are either online or combined in-class and online experiences. 

Getting a TEFL certification from a recognised, trusted provider is essential when it comes to receiving high-quality training and finding a job. Always go for a globally recognised accredited certification. It’s also worth double checking company reviews to make sure customers are satisfied with their training.

What’s the difference between accredited and government regulated Level 5 TEFL courses?

The Accredited 120 Hour Premier TEFL Course is what we call one of our fast-track courses. This is the minimum recognised worldwide.

  • You have 10 modules to complete usually taking 4-6 weeks.
  • Each module has a multiple-choice test at the end, and you need 80% to pass.
  • You’ll get your digital certificate on completion and can buy a hard copy from us if you’d like one with an embossed logo.

Level 5 Ofqual-regulated courses offer more in-depth training. If we look at the 180 Hour Level 5 TEFL Course in comparison: 

  • Learners typically spend 10-12 weeks to complete 11 modules.
  • The pass mark is 100% and assessments are multiple-choice plus open-ended answers. Don’t worry, you can redo quizzes to get 100%. Our academic team will review your answers at the end of your 11 modules and may ask for some questions to be reattempted. Some questions may require you to provide academic references.
  • You’ll get your digital coursework completion certificate from us after module 11. Following successful assessment from our academic team, we’ll be able to claim the licence for your Ofqual (government) certificate from our accreditation body TQUK.

The Ofqual-regulated Level 5 course range is for those who want to gain a higher-level, more recognised qualification.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teachers teach English in non-native English speaking countries. TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers teach English in native English speaking countries. CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is a separate qualification you can get to teach English.

TEFL: One of the most accepted certificates worldwide, this allows you to teach English to non-native speakers across the globe. 

TESL: As a TESL teacher, you would likely be teaching English in your home country to students who have moved or live in an English speaking country. In other words, they are continuously surrounded by the language and will be using it every day outside of the classroom, unlike TEFL students who are likely learning in their home country.

CELTA: A very prestigious certification that follows a strict regulation created by Cambridge University. You must complete a 120-hour TEFL course and six hours of teaching real ESL students. Most of the programmes are held over a month and are full time. However, you may be able to find some courses that are part-time and are spread over three months. Due to its intense nature and requirements, the cost tends to be much higher and can be up to €1700!

Yes! Teaching English as a foreign language – online or in-class – will give you an abundance of transferable skills. From time management to problem-solving and communication, you’ll have plenty of experience to impress future employers. As your TEFL certification never expires, you can get back into TEFL whenever you wish, too.

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