Work Visa Requirements to Teach English in China

Work (Z Visa) for Teaching English:

  • BA Degree or Higher
  • 60/120 hour TEFL certificate (Or TESOL, CELTA etc. Can be completed in 2 days online. click here)
  • Native English Nationality (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand or South Africa)
  • 21 to 55 years of age
  • CRC (Criminal background check) from your local police station. Note: In USA, FBI criminal background is not necessary, a local police report will suffice.

Note: If your BA is in an education related field a TEFL is NOT required, 120 hour TEFL required for Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.



If you qualify for the working visa in China, you must request one, if employers ask you to come to China on a tourist or business visa, we do not recommend you do this as a work visa can only be issued if you enter China with the Z visa.

Some employers may say they can convert a business or tourist visa to a work visa after you arrive, in this case you should get at least 3 or 6 month business or tourist visa and be prepared to fly to Hong Kong or nearby country to get your Z visa and re-enter China at a later date.

Other Types of Work Visa in China

If you’re going for a non-teaching role, Director of studies or other position a different type of working visa is offered. This type of working visa can be offered by any company in China, however they need to justify why a local Chinese national could not perform the position they are hiring for. A reference letter confirming 2 or more years related work experience in a non-Chinese company is required in all cases.

Work (Z Visa) for Professional and Management Roles

  1. BA Degree or Higher (Essential)
  2. 21 to 65 years of age
  3. 2 years post-graduate work experience (In the related field of employment. A Reference Letter IS REQUIRED)

Note: Any nationality can get this visa, note you must have a reference letter.



No BA Degree and Misc. Work Visas

If you do not satisfy the above requirements it is not possible to legitimately get a working visa in China.
If you know of friends working in China without a BA or the requirements listed above, either they had a working visa years ago when the rules were less strict and have renewed it since then, Or they are working on a Business or Tourist visa.

Many teachers still do work on a tourist or business visa although it comes with small risks. Usually, employers have good relationships with local police stations if this is happening and are rarely checked. Although, if you qualify for a working visa you should always try to get one as it saves having to exit the country every 2-3 months if you’re on a Business or Tourist visa.



Important Requirements to Work in China

Financially, you must have around £1000/$1500 available to pay for your visas, flights and first month to live and work in China. Note that your initial costs are reimbursed to you at the end of your contract in the form of an end of contract bonus.

Key Requirements

  1. At least £1000GBP or $1500 available for initial flights, visas and costs to get started
  2. Available for a minimum of 12-month contract
  3. Adaptable/Cultural awareness recommended
  4. Chatty/Confident personalities will find teaching in China easy

If you’ve never taught before, there’s no need to worry, full training and support is offered. Many foreign teachers who’ve never taught before learn to teach within 1-2 weeks.


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Posted in Country Guides, DIY, Employment, Finding TEFL Jobs, Qualifications For TEFL Teachers, Teaching Around The World.

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