Full Guide to get Work Visa to Teach in China
01 Apr 2024

So you’ve just aced your interview with a school and secured your dream English Teaching position in China. Now it’s time to start the visa process, we know this can be laborious and tedious, so we’ve written this definitive guide, so you know just exactly what materials you need and what to do, step by step. 


Let’s first clarify the terminology, what do you need to legally teach English in China? 

*Work Visa – This only grants the foreign teacher the right to enter China for work and stay up to 30 days

*Work Permit – This legally allows you to work in China at your school or organization

*(Work-type) Residence Permit – This allows you to live in China beyond the 30 days and for the remainder of your teaching contract



PART 1: 

To successfully get your work visa, you will need a work permit notification letter. Your school or agent will help you apply for this. The work permit notification letter notices that you have been permitted to work in China and that you will receive a work permit. To get the notification letter you will need to provide the following documents, materials and information. 


1. Your resume/CV 


2.   Passport (Clear scanned copy):Make sure your contract period is within the period of validity of your passport


3. Degree certificateOriginal and Apostilled copy


4. TEFL certificateOriginal and Apostilled copy

Note:  The duration of the certificate must be 120 hours or more. If your degree major is in a relevant field such as English, TEFL or Education then TEFL is not compulsory. 


5. Recommendation letterOriginal and Color scanned copy→ Don’t need to be notarized and apostilled.

Note: Letters of recommendation must be for more than two years and may consist of two or more letters. The position on your recommendation letter should be consistent with the position you are applying for. The letter should include the title and contact details of the referrer or the official seal of your previous work place (if possible). If you do not have a TEFL Certificate or your degree is not in a relevant field, you must provide a recommendation letter. 


5. Clean criminal background check

Below are the viable criminal background checks for each country. 

UK: ACRO Police CertificateOriginal and Apostilled copy

US: FBI background check, State or local police City background check

CA: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Criminal Records Check

AU: National Police Certificate from the Australian Federal Police (AFP)

NZ: Criminal Record Check from the New Zealand Ministry of Justice 

SA: Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) 

IRE: Garda Police Certificate 

*Note: Must be issued within 6 months of your work permit application  


6. Physical examination ReportColor scanned copy→ You can download the physical examination form template from the websites of the Chinese Embassy/Consulate/Visa Center or we can give that to you. 

*Note: This also has to be issued within 6 months of your work permit application. 


7. 2-inch size passport photos on white background, digital and physical copies (x6)


8. If you have worked in China before, please provide copies of all residence permit pages.


9. Tell us which Chinese Embassy/Consulate/Visa Centre in your country you will submit your visa application?

*Note: In some countries you must apply for the visa at the consulate or embassy of your residence/area’s jurisdiction. Please confirm before letting us know. Once confirmed, it cannot be modified. 


10.Supplementary materials maybe required depending on circumstances of which you will be made aware of. 



Degree and TEFL certificates need to be notarized by a notary public/solicitor in the country they were issued.

Degree certificates, TEFL certificates and criminal background checks need to be apostilled in the country they were issued. *In the UK by the Legalization Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). *In the US by the secretary of state of your region or the department of state, depending on where you are located. *In South Africa by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). *In Canada by Global Affairs Canada or the competent provincial authority depending on the location where your documents were issued and notarized. *In Australia by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) at the Australian Passport Offices of Capital Cities 


*For Degree and TEFL certificate, please notarize the original or the true copy of the original

*How long it takes for the documents to be apostilled differs between countries. It maybe fast and be ready within weeks or a month, it may be slow and take two or three months, so it is recommended to start the process as soon as possible. 


Once you have prepared and gathered all these documents, your school or agent will process this for you by submitting it to the service system for foreigners working in China, in order to get the work permit notification letter. This should take about 2-3 weeks. 

PART 2: 

Once your work permit notification letter has been granted, your school or agent will send this to you. There are two copies one in English and one in Chinese. You then need to book an appointment with the Chinese embassy/consulate/visa center in you region and apply for your work (z) visa. Please bring the notification letters and all other relevant materials/documents with you. 

Checklist of Documents for Visa
• Original Passport with at least six months of validity and blank visa pages
• Colour Photocopy of the bio data page of your passport
• Visa application form and photo *Can find this on the website of the Chinese embassy/consulate/visa center
• Work Permit Notification Letters

When it’s been approved, you should receive you work visa within 5 working days. You can then book your flight tickets to China. 

Before entering China, please bring your Original and Apostilled documents as follows:

• Original passport. (If you get a new one, you still must bring the previous one.)
• Original and Apostilled degree certificate
• Original Apostilled ACRO Police Certificate
• Original and Apostilled TEFL Certificate (If any)
• Recommendation letter (If any)
• Physical examination report 
• Six white background passport photos (2-inch size) *if you don’t have any, you can take the pictures in China for around 30 RMB price)
• Supplementary materials if any


Congratulations! You’ve made it to China! After arrival in China your school should pick you up from the airport and you will proceed to the next steps.  
For the continuance of your work permit and residence permit applications please do the following: 

• The school will also send you to have a physical examination at the China Inspection and Quarantine (C.I.Q.).Please go to do the physical examination as soon as you arrive in China and send us a clear scanned copy of photo of the results when you receive it. 
• The school will also send you to get your Residence Registration Form at the local police station within 24 hours of your arrival in China, please keep it as it’ll be necessary for applying for your residence permit. 
• On arrival in China, please take a clear picture/scan of your Entry Stamp and Visa Page and send to you school or agent for further processing of your Work Permit. 
• Once your work permit has been granted you’ll be taken to collect it 
• You need to then use you work permit, residence registration and all you other documents to apply for your residence permit. 

• Z visa is valid within 30 days based on the date of your Entry Stamp, during which you school or agent will assist you with the application of Work Permit and the Residence Permit to legally work in China.
• In case of any trouble it may cause, please make sure you have brought all the documents and its originals mentioned above with you when coming into China.
• Policies vary slightly from place to place,  if you have any questions, please consult with you school or agent. 

Once you’ve collected your residence permit then voila! Now it’s time to enjoy your experience teaching wherever you are in China. We just know it’ll definitely have been worth all that time and effort.  

If you have any questions about the visa process, feel free to get in touch at [email protected] 

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