China is an exciting place to teach English - there are so many job opportunities. However, it is now essential to legalise your documents in order to get a ‘Z’ visa to work.
To help you make sense of this process, here is our ABC no-nonsense guide to document legalisation for China. Note that we will run through it for UK citizens first, but there are notes for other nationalities further down the page.
A) So, what is document legalisation?
Legalisation ‘converts’ your essential documents so they are recognised in China.
B) What ‘essential documents’ do I need to legalise?
Usually you need to legalise your:
* TEFL/TESOL certificate
* criminal record check, which should be no more than 6 months old (a DBS in the UK costs, which costs about £25: see here for more).
However, always check with your employer what exactly they need legalising.
As well as the original documentation of the above, you will also need copies made of each. For the latter stage in the process you’ll need you passport to verify your identity and you’ll need to complete a document legalisation form, such as this example here.
C) What is the process of getting my documents legalised?
Here it’s a three step process:
1. Notarisation: Get your documents notarised by a notary/solicitor in the country where your qualification was issued. The notary officially confirms that your certificate is a genuine one and stamps/signs it accordingly. In the UK this costs between £10 -£20 per document.
2. Authentication: Get the above documents authenticated. For the UK, you’ll need to send the notorised documents to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Essentially, they confirm the signature of the notary is genuine and will attach a stamped certificate to the document which legalises/authenticates it. This currently is £30 per document.
3. Legalisation for China: Finally, send your authenticated documents to the Chinese consulate (£15 per document in the UK) for legalisation. You’ll need the originals and a copy. plus your passport and a copy of your passport for this stage. The returned legalised copies should be sent to your school so they can apply for the Z visa for you.
You can see what legalised degree certificate might look like here.
If you are from the USA, S. Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia or Canada, then check out the process and documentation needed on the Opportunity China website.
D) Can I do the above myself or do I need to use an agent?
You can do it yourself, usually by post/online and it will be cheaper than using an agent but it will take longer (allow about 3-4 weeks or so).
Alternatively an agent can manage some or all of the process for you for an extra fee. This could cost you an extra £40-£100 depending on who you use and if you opt for any express service they offer, but the process will be less complicated and can considerably reduce the amount of time you have to wait for it to be processed.
Our own Global English graduates have used Hague Apostille services successfully in the past.
Any other tips?
* Get a great English teaching job in China first. If you are new to TEFL, you might consider working for a larger school or chain which is used to providing advice on this. Some may even help with costs, so keep all receipts.
* Consider using an agent, as it will save some of the time and legwork. It’s well worth the expense in our view!
* If you are a GE graduate, we can post your printed Global English TEFL/TESOL certificate direct to your agent or solicitor for notarisation.
* Read more about teaching English in China from our graduates and on our Teaching in China page.
Please note that the information and prices above are correct at the time of publishing. We have no business or affiliate association with Opportunity China or Hague Apostille Services, other than the latter has been successfully used by Global English TESOL trainees previously. Global English TESOL does not take any referral fees for these services. It is up to you to select the agent of your choice. All the above information is intended as general advice only and is subject to change. Ensure you are knowledgeable about all aspects of your visa application to your own satisfaction.
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