Your Nationality when Teaching Abroad

This article answers a question we’re asked quite a lot: do you have to give up your nationality or citizenship when you go and work in another country?

The simple answer which applies 99.9% of the time is: No.

The rest of this article explores this topic in more detail.

As an example, suppose you are a citizen of the United States and you hold a passport from the United States. When you go to, say, South Korea to teach English you will be given a visa from the South Korean Government allowing you to enter and leave the country at will.

You will not have to take South Korean nationality or citizenship and give up your American nationality. No, you will effectively be given temporary access to South Korea for work.

So in most cases when you are working in another country as a TEFL teacher you will often have a visa to enter the country and a work permit allowing you to work there. You will keep your passport from your home country.

Note that although there is a legal difference between the two words citizenship and nationality, to all intents and purposes (and for the purposes of this article) they are pretty much the same. We usually talk about someone’s nationality when we refer to the country where they come from and the passport which they hold.

Changing Nationalities

There are many people who have spent their entire working lives abroad teaching English but who still retain their own nationality, passport and citizenship. In fact, probably about 99.9% of teachers never change their nationality.

However, if you have lived in a county for many years and perhaps married a local, you may decide to give up your own nationality and adopt the nationality of your host country. This is generally not a problem to do. Sometimes you can have dual nationality and keep your own original passport but also have a passport from your adopted country. Other times you will have to give up your original nationality/citizenship in order to get a new nationality/citizenship.

Useful Links

Passports‏‎ – all about your passport when working abroad

Visas for English Teachers Abroad – all about visas to visit different countries

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Posted in Country Guides, Finding TEFL Jobs, Teaching Around The World.

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