As of 2017, to teach TEFL in China, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate, and preferably have prior teaching experience too. In general, employers are looking for candidates with a 120 Hour TEFL Certificate, but the 140 Hour TEFL Certificate may be worth looking into if you don’t have any teaching experience.


To work legally in China, you will need a ‘Z’ visa – a working visa required for all foreigners working in the country. To get this, you’ll need a Bachelor’s degree in any subject and a TEFL certificate or at least two years of teaching experience. This combination makes you a ‘foreign expert’ in the eyes of the Chinese government.

You also need to be a passport holder of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK or the US. And the application process includes a police check, a medical check, providing a reference, and notarisation of your certificates of education.

Before you can apply for a ‘Z’ visa, you need an offer of employment and a contract from your school. Unfortunately, you can’t apply for a visa in advance and then go hunting for any teaching job you like!

If you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree, you won’t be able to get the ‘Z’ visa, and therefore legal teaching work. But with a shortfall of around 100,000 English teachers, many TEFL teachers do find work without a degree or a working visa. Though, it’s not uncommon to hear of teachers being arrested and deported for working illegally on a tourist visa.

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