TEFL: How to Conquer the Chinese Visa Process for the First Time


Chinese flag in London.

Whether you’ve signed your first TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign language) contract already, or you’ve only just started looking, it’s extremely important to know how to conquer the Chinese Visa process. It’s long, tiresome and expensive, so I’ve written this How To guide to help out the next TEFL teachers. Got your pen and paper ready? You may need it!

Step One - Obtaining the correct documents

To obtain your Chinese Visa, you will need the following documents to begin with;

  • Passport,

  • Degree Certificate,

  • DBS certificate

  • TEFL Certificate or 2 years teaching experience with a teaching qualification.

Passport; £94.75

  • If you don’t yet have a passport, you will need to order one before progressing with your application as one of the first steps on the visa process requires a passport. Do not use a random website online, be safe and use the official Post Office site

  • If your passport runs out within the next year, you must obtain a new one as even with a visa, China may refuse entry to anyone with a passport due to expire in 6 months or less; taking into consideration the time required for the entire visa process and getting to China. Click here for more info.

Degree Certificate; cost dependent on University (anything from £10 to £40)

  • If you do not have a Degree Certificate, you will be unable to obtain a visa as “reputable teaching jobs in China now require successful candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree of some kind.” - Teachaway.

  • If you are awaiting your certificate because you’ve just graduated, you may still apply for work but will need to wait for your certificate before beginning the visa application process.

  • If you have lost your certificate, you will need to order a replacement through your University. If you are unsure how to do this, we advise that you give them a call or check their website - email responses always take too long!

  • If you have more than one degree but only have the certificate for one, that’s enough! Don’t worry about ordering a replacement for the other(s).

DBS Certificate; £25

  • If you do not have a DBS Certificate, you will only need a Basic DBS check, which you can do with the Government website in a few easy steps. All you need is your basic information.

  • If you already have a DBS certificate, make sure it is valid for the next 1.5 years. This is because it is very unlikely you’ll be in China for less than a year, plus application times, booking flights, and any mishaps along the way. If yours is due to run out within this time, order a new one using the Government website or double check with your employer. Again, all you need is your basic information.

TEFL Certificate; cost dependant on course provider - anything between £50 and £300! (Groupon is your friend)

  • If you have a TEFL certificate, double check with your employer whether you need your middle name or not as you may need to order another one if it only has your first and last name.

  • If you have a TEFL qualification but have lost your certificate, order a new one with the course provider. These are fairly cheap to reorder. Double check with your employer whether you need your middle name or not as you may need to order another one if it only has your first and last name.

  • If you are nearly finished with your course, you may still apply for work but will need to wait for your certificate before beginning the visa application process.

  • If you have not yet started a TEFL course and don’t have any teaching experience, be sure to check Groupon for deals on courses with 120+ hours. Any less, and you may not be hired.

  • If you have not started a TEFL course but have a teaching qualification plus experience, you may not need to complete a TEFL course. Check with your employer before continuing.

Step Two - Legalising your documents; £350

I know it seems weird that you need to legalise legal documents, but unfortunately due to the forgery of so many, this is a requirement. You can do this by yourself, but it will take an absurd amount of time without actually saving much money. After searching around and checking with our own employer, we found Edward Young Notary Public London to be the cheapest, as they deal specifically with China. For this, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Photocopy of your passport

  • Original Degree Certificate

  • Original TEFL Certificate

  • Original DBS Certificate

  • Proof of address (utility bill or bank statement)

  • Edward Young’s China Authentication Order Form and application form (read on)

Photocopy of your passport:

  • Do not give your original copy to them. It is a photocopy only. If you do not have access to a photocopier, download the app CamScanner on your phone. This allows you to scan documents, resize, and send to yourself via email. Please note this photocopy will need to be printed. You can do this at your local library or print shop if you do not have access at home.

Original Degree, TEFL and DBS certificates

  • This must be your original copy. Not a photocopy. The Notary service sends these off to be legalised. You may hear the term ‘apostille’, which refers to an official stamp confirming the documents are legal.

Proof of Address:

  • If utility bills are addressed to you specifically, this will be fine, but please note that if you pay bills, but the bills are in the name of your landlord, you will be unable to use this as proof of address. Most people have a mobile phone contract however, so printing your latest bill will be sufficient.

  • If you do not have any utility bills in your name, use your latest bank statement. If you do not receive paper copies, you can either get one printed from your bank or print from online banking if you have access.

  • If you have just moved, and have used your new address for your certificates but don’t yet have any bills or statements with your new address, you could ask the notary service if a signed tenancy contract will do.

Edward Young’s China Authentication Order Form and application form:

  • This can be filled in by hand or on your computer. Either way, this will need to be printed. Please complete all 4 pages. Click here to download it.

  • To see the full step-by-step guide from Edward Young, click here.

Once you have collected all of the above, post them (or hand deliver) to this address:

Edward Young Limited Notaries & Lawyers

9 Carlos Place

London

W1K 3AT

United Kingdom

We recommend posting it via recorded delivery as it includes important and personal documents.

You will then receive confirmation from Edward Young upon receiving the documents. From this point, it will take 7-10 working days to complete this step. You can choose whether you’d like to pick up the documents in person or have them sent back with special delivery. We recommend the second option to ensure the safe return. During this waiting period, we recommend moving straight on to Step Three as you will not need any of the documents you’ve sent off.

Step Three - Medical Check; £425

Probably the most painful cost in the entire process is the medical check. Unfortunately, UK citizens are not able to complete the check through the NHS, meaning private healthcare is the only way to complete it. We phoned around and did our research, getting results of anything up to £1500. Finally, I found the contact details to the same company who completed my Cruise Ship health check, and they quoted £425.

Cooper Health:

Office@cooperhealth.co.uk

020 7580 3324

https://www.cooperhealth.co.uk/

112 Harley Street

London

W1G 7JQ

You will be sent the ‘Physical Examination Record For Foreigner’ form by your employer, but if you are still waiting to receive it, take a look at the preview below:

Once you have booked your appointment, you will need the following:

  • Copy of the ‘Physical Examination Record For Foreigner’ form (they may ask you to send it over via email instead)

  • Passport photo

  • Photo ID

What to expect on the day:

Ben after his medical.