- Teaching abroad requires documentation that teachers generally do not require to work in their home country.
- Some highly significant terms are authenticate, apostille, legalise, notarise, and Notary Public.
- Documents frequently need to be notarised, then legalised with an apostille stamp/certificate.
- Documents that need to be legalised are generally degree certificates, TEFL/TESOL certificates, and criminal background checks (CBCs).
When starting out in the English education industry, new teachers may come across certain terminology that they are unfamiliar with. Many of these new terms have to do with the document preparation stages, as working overseas frequently requires documentation that is not required when teaching in one’s home country. Some significant terms are authenticate, apostille and legalise, etc, and you will save yourself confusion during your own application process by becoming familiar with what these various terms mean.
It is important to note that the process of legalising documents for working abroad is a constantly changing process based on worldly events and the immigration department of the country in question. As countries and their laws are independent of each other, their rules and regulations can change at any time and without any warning. Always ensure you do your research to avoid creating a headache for yourself. Let’s get to it!
The Purpose of Proving Document Authenticity
Why do employers require teachers to prove that their documents are authentic? Simple answer – to prevent fraud and ensure that the teacher they will be receiving is of an honest quality.
What to Expect
First, let’s clarify a few key terms:
- Notary Public, aka Public Notary
This is the party who has the ability to certify your documents, deeming them as originals. Depending on where you are located, it may be quite easy to get your documents to a notary, e.g., a lawyer, a solicitor, a bank, etc. They will certify and notarise your documents before the legalisation process takes place.
- Legalise / Authenticate
These terms refer to the process one goes through to show that your documents are original and authentic. These documents can be a degree certificate, criminal background check, TEFL/TESOL certificate, etc. Although documents are generally legalised in the country from where they came, some countries require documents to be legalised by a government body. This means that you will need to authenticate your documents at the embassy of your destination country.
- Apostille Stamp
This is the stamp and certificate/document that shows that at the time of going through the legalisation/authentication process, your documents were deemed original and authentic by the issuing authority.
Now let’s take a look at the general process.
The process from start to finish will generally look like something as follows:
- Get documents notarised and certified by Notary Public.
- Submit these certified and notarised documents to a government department or issuing authority for legalisation/authentication and Apostille stamp.
- Receive fully legalised/authenticated documents once legalised/authenticated (either in person or via courier).
- Submit documents to the relevant embassy to begin processing your visa (either in person or via courier).
- Receive a new visa once processed (either in person or via courier).
- Work abroad legally with your new visa!
Make it Easier
- Plan in Advance
It is widely known in the ESL industry that the initial documentation requirements can cause people to stress in the early stages of moving abroad. Make things easier for yourself by getting everything sorted as early as possible, and for those things that you can’t do early on – plan for them as much as possible.
- Keep Costs in Mind
Depending on your chosen destination and current place of residence, you may need to courier your documents to the relevant authority for legalisation and it may end up costing you more than initially expected. There are companies who offer collection services for a certain fee, however, this comes down to your personal budget and discretion.
- Accept the Process
It is totally normal to feel somewhat overwhelmed when going through documentation preparations for working and teaching abroad (especially for the first time). Do your best to stay on top of things, but don’t stress yourself out by believing everything needs to happen at once. Accept that the nature of the process requires patience and you’ll have your documentation ready in no time!