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Necessary documents for working as an ESL teacher in Vietnam

This article tells you everything you have to know about the necessary documents, particularly criminal record and university degree, needed for working as an ESL teacher in Vietnam. One of my viewers asked me the following questions through email and below you can read the original email.

I have some questions about the clean criminal background requirement which concerns the working visa(but actually most of the schools which advertise on-line also request it, it seems). So: does my record need to be translated? Can I just come to Vietnam with my record in Italian(I’m from Italy)or do I need some sort of notarization? If so, can this be done in the Italian consulate in Vietnam or everything must be done at the Vietnamese embassy in Italy? Same questions regarding my degree(which is from a UK university though).

First of all, the documents you bring with you in Vietnam should be translated into English so, a potential employer can read and understand it. If you want to go even farther then you can translate your documents into Vietnamese (Vietnamese embassy from Italy can do that). I was never asked to provide my documents translated into Vietnamese. Just make sure your documents are translated by an authorized translator.

Criminal record needed for teaching English in Vietnam

The criminal record has a very limited validity (in Romania is 30 days if I remember correctly). I have been living in Vietnam since 2005 so getting a criminal record from Romania would be impossible for me. Everybody who has been living in Vietnam for more than 6 months can get a criminal record from the police station of the area they live in. Big name schools require the criminal record but all others don’t. So, get your criminal record, translate it into English and that’s it!

University degree and teaching certificate needed for teaching English in Vietnam

As the criminal record, they should be translated into English. I also recommend you to photocopy them and authenticate them by a public notary so you can use them instead of using the original documents. All of my documents are translated into English by a Romanian authorized translator and authenticated by a Romanian public notary. I have no problem using them. My original documents are still back home in Romania.

You may be asked to show the original documents (never happened to me) especially if you try to obtain a working permit. So, having the original documents with you won’t hurt. Although a legalized and authenticated photocopy of a document can replace the original document. Non-sense things can happen; and Vietnam is one place where they DO happen.

You can also translate the teaching certificate and the university degree into Vietnamese (through the Vietnamese Embassy in Italy) but as I said before, the English version will do just fine.

When schools advertise a jobs on-line, they want to make the job look as serious as possible, so the potential teacher won’t have a bad impression about the school and the job. So, they write in the advertisement how the ideal candidate should be; native speaker of English, American, university degree, at least 5 years teaching experience, teaching certificate, clean criminal record, blond hair, European (most Vietnamese use the word European instead of Caucasian), blue eyes, big nose etc. However, they hire the best teacher they find not the teacher they want.

The reality is that we teach English as a second language and a degree in agronomy (for example) doesn’t prove anything. As a matter of fact, a university degree is not a requirement when applying for a teaching certificate course, it is just recommended.

However, photocopy your documents, authenticate the photocopies, translate them into English and authenticate the translations. Do these and you should be fine.


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