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In this article
What We’ll Cover
So you’re thinking about going to teach English in Taiwan. You’ve got your TEFL certificate and your other documents, but you’ve just found out you need to ‘legalise’ them for your work permit. Bummer. Suddenly, a whole new and complicated world of paperwork opens before you and you have no idea where to start.
Don’t worry though, I’m here. I’ll break down what legalisation means, how to get it done, and what you need to be wary of, and I’ll even throw in some nice tips and information about Taiwan for you.
When I first started researching for this blog, I was getting my information about Taiwan online. Then someone pointed out to me that Gav, our legalisation administrator who sits 10 seconds from my desk, lived in Taiwan for 6 years and is married to a wonderful Taiwanese woman. He knows all about the island and its culture. So I went over, with my notepad, to harass him.
Too polite to tell me to go away, he humoured me for a bit. ‘Taiwan is Asia’s hidden jewel’, he told me. Taiwan was originally named by Portuguese sailors – Formosa. Coming upon the island, they marked it on their maps as Ilha Formosa and the name stuck. Translated, it meant ‘beautiful island’. It’s easy to see why. Gav showed me videos he’d taken on his phone of rolling green hills, blue lagoons and mountains. It is beautiful.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’ll need to know how to legalise our documents. We’ll get back to Taiwan later.
What is legalisation?
Legalisation, also known as ‘attestation’ and ‘authentication’, is the process of taking documents issued in one country and getting them legally recognised in another. If you aren’t familiar with it, you’ll find yourself scratching your head. It’s all so complicated and there’re so variations depending on the documents, where they were issued and where they’re going.
The main concept of legalisation can be split into 3 main stages:
- Legalisation by the government of the country of issue
- Legalisation by the government of the destination country in the country of issue
- Verification stages in the destination country
So, for example, if you’ve got a UK-issued TEFL certificate and you’re wanting to present it in Taiwan, it’d need to be certified by a recognised UK solicitor, apostilled by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and then stamped by the Taiwanese Embassy in London. You’d need to sort that in the UK, then get everything finalised in Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Documents must always be processed in their country of issue. If you’ve got paperwork issued in the UK, it’ll need to be legalised in the UK. It can’t be done overseas, even at a UK Embassy in a foreign country.
I know it seems pretty straightforward, but no two processes are the same. Every country has a unique procedure – how things work can differ massively from one country to the next. If you’re handling legalisation yourself, you need to figure out the requirements based on your own your own personal circumstances. No two situations are the same, so using an experienced agent can save you a lot of time, money and stress.
How do I get my documents legalised to teach English in Taiwan?
The Taiwanese legalisation process depends on the document type and the country of issue. In this article, we’re looking at UK documents specifically, so please be aware that this process will differ if your documents were issued elsewhere.
All education documents for Taiwan need to be verified by a solicitor or Notary Public before they can be processed for legalisation. The solicitor or Notary must contact the awarding institution and verify that the document’s genuine, as well as the details on the certificate itself. Then they need to make a statement on the certified copy of the certificate confirming its validity before it can be legalised.
Alongside your documents you’ll need to submit an official application form and a colour photocopy of the photo page of your passport. It needs to be a clear copy and your passport must be valid at the time of submission. The signature on your application must be a wet signature – you can’t submit a photocopy.
If there’s a third party (like Vital Consular) submitting your documents for you, you’ll also need a Letter of Authorisation. It gives permission for someone else to submit your documents to the Embassy for you – but don’t worry too much about those. We’ll give you a template to complete so you know exactly what needs to go into it. You’ll need to sign the Letter of Authorisation and have it witnessed by a UK solicitor or Notary Public (or, if you’re outside the UK, at your local ROC Embassy or Mission).
- Original personal documents (birth, marriage and police clearance) or verified copies (education documents)
- Application form with signature, which must match signature on the applicant’s passport
- High quality colour photocopy of the applicant’s passport
- Authorisation letter signed by the applicant in the presence of the solicitor (if not submitting yourself)
- Agent’s valid passport (if not submitting yourself)
There’re currently 2 Taiwanese Embassies in the UK – one in London and one in Edinburgh. Which Embassy you’ll need to go to depends on where your award was issued.
For universities in the South, documents are processed in London. That includes anywhere south of Durham and Cumbria, as well as dependencies like Guernsey and Jersey, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Northern Island and the Seychelles.
For universities in the North, documents are processed in Edinburgh. That includes Durham, Cumbria, all of Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Documents issued in the Republic of Ireland will be processed at the Taiwanese Embassy in Dublin after the Department of Foreign Affairs have apostilled the document.
We’ve made a map to demonstrate it for you:
Which documents do I need to get legalised for a TEFL job?
What documents you need to submit depends on your employer. Certain job roles could ask for additional paperwork, so it’s important to find out exactly which documents you need at the start.
If you’re having your documents legalised for any other purpose, we’d recommend getting a list from whoever’s requested the documents and whoever you’ll be presenting them to in Taiwan. You don’t want to forget anything or get the wrong thing legalised. It can cause you massive delays and could end up leaving you out of pocket.
What are Taiwan’s COVID restrictions like?
Taiwan had one of the most impressive responses to COVID in the world. They were the first country to implement border control during the pandemic; and, despite being neighbours with China, managed to keep on top of the spread. They had one of the lowest death tolls in the whole world.
As you’d probably expect from a country who were so well organised during the pandemic, Taiwan still have some COVID restrictions in place and it’s worth knowing what they are before you move over. Don’t worry though – it’s nothing major.
Masks are no longer mandatory outdoors, but they are still required indoors and on public transport. There are exceptions to the rule – you don’t have to wear a mask indoors if you’re; singing, driving, giving a speech or a lecture, visiting hot springs / saunas, exercising and taking photos.
If you don’t stick to the rules, you’ll face some pretty hefty fines. Not wearing a mask on public transport, for example, could land you a fine of NT$15,000 – that’s over £400. As long as you’re aware that there are rules in place and you’re willing to follow them you’ll be absolutely fine.
The origins of the name Taiwan are hard to trace – trust me, I tried. I asked Gav and he didn’t know with any certainty, and there are loads of theories online. Generally everyone agrees that the Dutch played a part. The Dutch East India Company set up a small colony on the island in 1624 and, possibly borrowing language used by the island’s natives, named it Taijowan, Taoyuan, or some variation of the spelling. Over time, this evolved to become Taiwan, by which the whole island became known by. Just a nice little bit of history for you there.
I asked Gav about the culture. ‘It’s a super creative place,’ he said, ‘with lots of arts and crafts.’ He often brings in really beautiful pieces his wife has made for him. ‘Tai chi is really popular, too. Multiple times a day you’ll find groups of locals gathering in parks and green spaces, practicing it.’
‘On an evening, there are huge night markets. Stalls line the streets – you can play games, buy souvenirs, or try out the local cuisines, which is delicious. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan, and they drink Oolong tea, which is lovely’. He also tried to sell something called ‘stinky tofu’ to me. I won’t say what he said it smelt like, I think I’d lose my job, but he did say that if you can get past the smell it tastes alright. Not for me.
Taiwan’s highly urbanised. Most of the population live on the West coast, in the cities of Taichung, Hsinchu and Hainan. Taipei, the capital, is on the North. Over to the East, across the mountainous spine of the island, the country is mostly rural. The majority of the Taiwanese people speak a mixture of Taiwanese and Mandarin, so knowing the basics of Mandarin will definitely help you out, although it’s not essential. They’re always on the look out for people wanting to teaching English in Taiwan, which is why it’s such a popular destination for TEFL teachers.
Can I get help with the process of legalisation for Taiwan?
Moving to a new country is an exciting time, but there’s so much preparation it can also be pretty stressful. Let us help you with document legalisation – we can take that stress off you. We’ll check over your documents before submission as well as answer any questions you have about the process. We do this daily.
Whether you’ve got your job offer and you’re getting ready to travel to Taiwan or you’re already there and you’re looking for employment, we offer unrivalled support, convenience and excellent value. The only thing you need to worry about is sending the documents to us. We’ll take care of the rest and return them to you through a secure courier as quickly as possible.
Get in touch today to speak to our friendly team via our live chat system, give us a call on 0330 088 1142 or send us a text message via WhatsApp. Whichever is most convenient for you! Our friendly team of specialists are here to answer all your questions.
Although Taiwanese legalisation is one of the more complex processes, as long as you plan ahead and make sure you get all of the supporting documents you need, you needn’t worry. Double check the document list and fully complete all your forms before submitting them to avoid any delays. If you’re not confident in handling it yourself, give us a shout – our friendly team of specialists are here to help!