How to get to China & Teach English: 101 guide

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So you’ve been offered this amazing opportunity to teach English in China – the news has been broken to the family that you’re moving and the excitement levels are rising. But where to from here?

Below is a guideline where I share my experience of the process, and how to avoid making it unnecessarily stressful.

Step 1: Make sure you have a valid passport – this is a no brainer. Before you apply for your dream job, you should have had a valid passport or have it renewed. The South African passport is valid for 10 years, so if you have a valid one, you’re good to go! If your Passport is expiring in the next 6 months, it won’t be valid and needs to be renewed (that is the rule for travelling anywhere).

Step 2: Apply for your Police Clearance at SAPS – Go to your nearest SAPS department with a certified copy of your ID and 1x copy as well as R114.00 cash to pay for the transaction.

This process can take approximately 6-8 weeks, so make sure you do this first!

Step 3: Notarize and Authenticate your **TEFL Certificate, *Bachelors Degree and Police Clearance Certificate.

Once you have received your police clearance back, you send 1x copy plus the original of each document to DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) for the required apostille.

Below is an example of what the red sticker looks like with green binding.

*Before you do this, you need to send your Bachelors Degree to the DHET (Department of Higher Education) in Pretoria to authenticate your degree.

To save time and money, you can send all of the documents together and just get your courier to collect and deliver straight to DIRCO once the DHET is done.

This process is fairly quick and takes about 3-5 days max. If you reside in Pretoria, it can be done free of charge in 1 day, as they are based there. (I live in Cape Town)

**BIG NB: Your TEFL Certificate needs to be notarized and authenticated as well, however the department will NOT process your request without an original certificate.

I found this very hard to wrap my head around considering that most people do the TEFL course online, and never ever receive an ‘original’ hard copy in the post- the certificate is sent via email. Some companies such as , or can assist.

If you did your TEFL through a UK based company such as Global TEFL (as I did) the company offers an apostille service but at a high cost of £199

I used docassist and I printed my own hard copy certificate and sent it to them for authentication. For the entire process (including DIRCO, notarizing and Chinese Embassy authentication) it cost me R745.00 which is reasonable considering what Global TEFL quoted me to complete the same service excluding courier from the UK, which if you converted to Rands works out to around R3800.00 – Thank you, Next!

Remember to send the company/agent the ‘hard copy’ of your certificate, 1x copy of the TEFL Certificate, 1x copy of your ID and the Chinese embassy application form – download it here:

Be careful which agents you choose as the process is relatively cost effective and it is cheaper to do it on your own than through a company.

If you are time constrained, I would suggest using an agent to assist as the process IS VERY time consuming overall.

Step 4: Once you have all of your documents back, you take them to your local Chinese Consulate for their authentication stamp.

This takes 3 working days and they are very efficient.

This process is free to South African citizens. Remember to take with 1x copy of each document you wish to be authenticated, along with your ID Card/Book plus 1x copy for their records.

The Cape Town branch is in Newlands and is open from 08:00-12.00 everyday. Below is an example of what the Chinese authentication stamp looks like.

Step 5: Once this process is completed (whew!) you send your documents to your employer/school/recruiter in China so they can translate all of your documents into Mandarin (Imagine that job!!).

They then apply to the Chinese government for your work permit to allow you to work in their country. Once this has been received (Takes 2 weeks), you can apply for your Z-VISA at the VISA Centre.

Complete the application form – download here:

Step 6: Take all of your documents with including ID photos for your VISA, Passport plus 1x copy, ID plus 1x Copy and all relevant documentation.

The cost thereof is (R800.00 ex VAT and is for a single-entry VISA -takes 6 working days).

You can pay extra to get either an Express VISA (R1300 takes 3 working days) or a Rush VISA, (R1600 which takes 2 working days).

The Cape Town branch is situated at: 20th Floor Offices, 1 Thibault Square, Long Street, Cape Town 8001. Submissions and Collections are open from 09:00-12:30 everyday excluding weekends.

Receive your VISA within 6 working days if all of your supporting documents meet the requirements. Book your flight and off you go!

Remember to take ALL of the original documents with you as you’ll need them when you get to China. My company asked for a copy of the ticket to arrange to collect me from the airport which was very cool!

The LAST most important step is to ENJOY the adventure & be safe! All the best until we meet again in Shanghai..

Feel free to comment with any questions and I’ll help you where I can!

Love Ruby


  1. Lerato says:

    You are a doll. Thank you!

  2. Megan says:

    So exciting!

  3. I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is
    written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty.
    You’re amazing! Thanks!

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