Documents and Course Work Needed to Teach in Thailand

Documents are the most important aspect when it comes to legally teaching abroad. These ensure that you have the credentials to teach English as a second language, are a resident of your home country, and can legally work within the foreign country. Most of the documents aren’t hard to obtain, but they do take time.

The following are the required documents to teach in Thailand:

  • Passport
  • Diploma
  • Sealed Official Transcript
  • TEFL Certification
  • Resume
  • Teaching Contract with a Thai School
  • Non-B Work Visa
  • Thai Teaching License
  • Work Permit

Note: You will not need to notarize any documents for Thailand.



Obtaining your passport is the top priority, without it you will not be able to travel outside the United States. Even if you aren’t teaching, this is good to have should you ever travel for leisure.

To obtain a passport, you will need Form DS-11 (or DS-82 for renewal), proof of U.S. citizenship, a government issued photo ID, color passport photo, and fee payment. The processing time takes roughly 4-6 weeks from the time the application is submitted. A general rule of thumb is to apply for your passport at least 6 months before you plan to leave. Most places will require you to have your passport valid for 6 months before traveling anywhere.

  • Form DS-11 (or DS-82 for renewal)
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
    • This can include: birth certificate, previous US passport, or US Naturalization Certificate
    • Generally, the birth certificate is the most widely used.
  • Government Issued Photo ID
    • This includes: driver’s license, U.S. military ID, permanent resident card
    • Generally, a driver’s license is the most used.
  • Color Passport Photo
    • You can obtain this at most photoshops. The one I normally go to is CVS. They have a photo center which is quick and easy.
    • A few tips to ensure the photo is correct are no smiling, no jewelry, and no sunglasses. Should you have any of these, you will be required to resubmit a correct photo.
  • Fee payment
    • The payment will be needed when you apply. Generally, it’s good to have a check that you can give them. These days, they will sometimes take credit card payments, but the old-fashioned way is generally used.

Once you have all your documents, you will need to submit them to the right location. Generally, the local post office will have a passport center. You can verify locations near you by visiting


The most widely accepted diplomas are from 4-year accredited universities. Most schools don’t require your major to be education, but they do require that you have completed your university. This adds credentials to your background, will increase your pay, and open opportunities. Should you have a degree in English, education, or any field related to that, it will look great on your resume.

Sealed Official Transcript

You will need to have a copy of your sealed official transcript to provide to the school. They will verify your information once again. Some places will accept unsealed official transcripts but most prefer sealed. This ensures that the information has not been tampered. You can request this information from your college easily. It is best you request a digital and print format. You can save the digital format and use it to send to perspective employers, and then provide the official sealed, print format upon acceptance.

TEFL Certification

The TEFL Certification is required by most schools to teach English. There are quite a few where you won’t need this, but as a rule of thumb, it is good to have it. This proves your teaching credentials regarding teaching English as a second language. If you do not have experience teaching or a teaching license, this is the next best thing. Schools look highly upon this and most do require a TEFL certification to teach at their schools.

TEFL Certifications can be referred to by various names: TEFL, TESL, and TESOL. Basically, all three of these are the exact same. Another certification you might here of is, CELTA. This is different than the afore mentioned certifications, because the course work is more intensive. If you are serious about teaching English abroad, I would recommend this course. If you are starting out, I would recommend obtaining a TEFL Certification.

These certifications are easy to obtain. Most companies offer in-class, online, or blended options. This allows you to work on your certification while attending work.

The company I obtained my certification from was Oxford Seminars. I selected the blended option for classes, which was perfect because I could work during the weekdays. Here’s how it works. You go to class Saturday and Sunday for roughly 8 hours a day for a month. Once you have passed the in-class portion, you will then study and complete coursework online. At the end of everything, you will take a final exam. If passed, you will obtain your certification.

What I love about this company is that you don’t just obtain a TEFL certification. You obtain a TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification which covers an array of things. Another bonus, you can take additional classes for more hours and certifications.

You can check out Oxford Seminars at to find a place near you!


A resume is always needed when you go to a job, teaching abroad is no different. When you arrive, you will need to provide a hard copy of this document to the school. They will need this on hand to verify your credentials.

Teaching Contract with Thai School

Before heading over to Thailand, you will have an interview, accept a job, and be sent a contract. You will need to hold on to this contract with your agency for Thailand. While you have signed this contract, you will sign a second contract with the Thai School. This is used for their documentation and your visa run.

Non-B Work Visa

Once you’ve arrived at the school and completed their contract, you will be sent on a visa run to obtain a Non-B Work Visa. You will have to exit the country and obtain it in another foreign country. Normally, it is easiest to visit Vientiane, Laos to obtain this document.

While you can go on your own, it is sometimes intimidating doing it on your own. The best way to go about it is go with a company. You can easily find companies who do visa runs in Bangkok. They will ensure your documentation is correct, provide you with transportation, a hotel, and help you complete the process. My agents put me on one of these visa runs, and I found it to be tiring but extremely helpful. They ensured everything was taken care of, and I didn’t have to worry. Another bonus, you will have time to explore the capitol!

You will have to renew this every 3-6 months depending on the date you’re given on your visa stamp.

Thai Teaching License

Once you return from your visa run, your school, or agency, will apply for your Thai Teaching License. This verifies you are licensed to teach in the country of Thailand. It generally takes a few days to 2 weeks from the time of submission to complete.

Work Permit

The last document you will obtain is your work permit. All of your paperwork will be submitted once again. It will take roughly a few days to 2 weeks to obtain this document. Generally, you will need to have your work permit prior to any form of teaching, but most schools are lenient on this aspect since it does take time for the paperwork to come back.

Once you have this document, you are all set to teach!

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