All you need to know about legalising your TEFL for use overseas

Teaching English abroad with a TEFL qualification is becoming a popular option for many people who are looking to relocate. The chance to immerse yourself in the local culture through language can be a wonderful, rewarding and exciting experience. With this surge in popularity, a host of issues have come to light when qualified TEFL tutors are attempting to use these awards overseas. What are these issues and how can they be resolved?

In this article

What We’ll Cover

  • Getting your TEFL qualification

  • How to prepare the certificate for use overseas

  • Possible issues you may experience with your certificate

  • Choosing the right TEFL course

  • Getting help with the process

melanie clarke TEFL specialist

Melanie is our TEFL Legalisation Specialist at Vital Consular and is here to answer everything you need to know about what to look out for when choosing courses, and how to process your certificate for your new job overseas.

Getting your TEFL qualification

So you’ve decided teaching English as a second language is something you’d enjoy doing, and there are plenty of opportunities out there! Deciding which TEFL course is right for you can be difficult, especially when there are so many companies out there offering a seemingly endless variety of options. How do you know which will be fit for purpose, and which won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on when it comes to actually getting a job?

One of the things to consider is if the company is recognised as an awarding body in it’s country of registration. Students of TEFL tend to look for an “accreditation” statement for a potential course, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the award will be suitable for applying for a job abroad.

This is because stating that a course is “accredited” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is recognised by the government, it simply means that a company that offers accreditation services has performed its own quality checks on the course structure and materials and deemed it to meet its guidelines.

Essentially, the government differentiates between a “training certification” and a “qualification”. In order to hand out qualifications, a company must have legal recognition to do so; a subtle but very important difference which often doesn’t come to light until it’s too late.

What needs to happen to my TEFL before I can use overseas?

Before you are able to present qualifications overseas for a work permit, they must first go through a process of authentication. This is known as legalisation, attestation, or even in some cases is referred to as verification. These stages are necessary and must be completed in the country where the documents were issued.

The purpose of legalisation is to verify your documents as genuine to whoever you are presenting them to overseas. This includes checks on the awarding body and their authority to issue qualifications. Remember, this authority is granted by the government of that country, so just because a company is listed as “accredited” this does not automatically mean it will be recognised by the government. This is where the difference between a training certification and a qualification comes into play.

To apply for a job role overseas, the government of your destination country needs an assurance that any training you have undertaken is sound, provided by a reputable company and is suitable for the position for which you are applying. Having a certificate that has been accepted for legalisation provides this assurance.

What issues might I experience using my TEFL overseas?

In my role here at Vital Consular, I have seen many TEFL awards which have come to us for legalisation be rejected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); as the number of TEFL companies is growing constantly, this is becoming a more common occurrence.

It’s important that you don’t simply go for the most popular, the cheapest or even the quickest courses without doing further investigation. As there is no singular “official” TEFL organisation or regulator, this makes it difficult for students to find definitive answers.

Just remember that having your documents rejected can cause delays and means your money goes to waste, which is exactly what you don’t need when relocation is already so costly and time-consuming!

So how do I choose the right course?

Although we don’t recommend specific companies here at Vital Consular, we do have well-established close working relationships with many UK-registered TEFL providers as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and London Embassy Network. Therefore our specialist experience allows us to determine whether a certificate will pass the FCO’s stringent checks and be fit for purpose before you even spend any time or money on the legalisation process.

If you’re looking for a course, ask other students who have not only completed the qualification but have used their award for a position overseas (preferably in the country you’re planning on teaching in). By planning ahead and being more aware of the processes involved beyond simply completing your training, you’ll avoid any nasty surprises when you come to legalise your certificate for your work visa.

I’ve already got my TEFL, can you help me legalise it?

If you’ve already completed your course, we can legalise all your documents for you. Do be aware however that legalisation requirements are not fixed across all countries. An example of this is China, where each province is self-governing, causing differences in their individual legalisation processes. The issuing country as well as the destination country will issue, as well as handle, documents differently, so each factor in your personal circumstances needs to be taken into consideration.

Thinking of going to work as a TEFL tutor in China? Make sure you check out our post on how to protect yourself and your paperwork when applying for your position in our article here.

You may have been in touch with other companies who have been unable to handle your TEFL legalisation for you. Don’t worry, it still might be possible to process your award. Before you start looking for another course, get in touch with Vital Consular. Don’t feel as if you need to delay your plans to relocate when your existing qualification might be perfectly acceptable, and we give a 100% acceptance guarantee on all of our services,

How can I get started?

If you need any further advice on your legalisation, all we need is a scan of your document. If you received a digital certificate, just send that over to us via email. This will enable us to give you an individual quotation and advise if there are any further steps required to process the document. Get in touch with one of our friendly team of specialists today. You can WhatsApp on mobile, send us a text message via WhatsApp, give us a call on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, visit our site at or via e-mail at

key takeaways

Key Takeaways

By making sure you choose your TEFL course wisely, you can save yourself time and money in the long run. By opting for a course which will be officially recognised for the legalisation process, you’ll avoid the stress of finding out that the certificate you’ve received can’t be used for your work permit application. Get in touch with other teachers who are already using their TEFL certificate overseas for the best advice.

While you’re here, why not keep up to date with all the latest comings and goings by following us on social media?

Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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