I’ve been offered a job – what next?  

Congratulations on your successful interview and being offered a position to teach English in China! But before jetting off to start your China adventure, there are several Pre-Departure steps to complete to ensure your arrival goes off without a hitch:

1. Review and sign your contract


Once you’ve accepted your offer, the school will email you a contract.  The contract should contain information on the following:

  • Total working hours
  • Teaching hours per week
  • Students per class
  • Accommodation provision (if relevant)
  • Visa provision
  • Medical insurance (if relevant)
  • Flight reimbursement (if relevant)
  • Conditions regarding overtime
  • Terms of the employer release letter.

It’s important to carefully review your contract and highlight an items you are unsure of or uncomfortable about.

It is also very important to review your own personal situation before signing, remember you are making a promise to your future students and employer that you are committed to work for them for the entire year.

If you are unsure about the position, do not sign a contract. It is expensive for a school to apply for a Z visa and foreign expert certificate. Once a contract has been signed and all required documents submitted, the school will begin the visa application process.

Please read our contract guidance information.

*Note that your contract is signed between yourself and your employer, not with Opportunity China. The contract should be signed prior to the visa application process starting.

2. Review your visa options


The three most common types of visas for China include the tourist (L) visa, the business (F) visa, and the working (Z) visa.

To work legally as an English teacher in China you need to have a ‘Z’ work visa. Our partner schools are licensed to provide ‘Z’ work visas for teachers who meet the requirements of the province, and will handle the paperwork for you.

Opportunity China strongly recommend that you do not leave your home country without having the correct visa in place, except in exceptional circumstances.

3. Collate documents required for your work ‘Z’ visa


You’ll need to promptly gather high quality copies of several documents. Your employer school should detail the documents required, but in most cases you will need to collate the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree certificate
  • Teaching Licence/ Master’s Degree/ PCGE Certificate – if teaching in an International School or a University
  • TEFL Certificate
  • Passport scan
  • Passport photos
  • Reference letter
  • No Criminal Record Check Certificate, applied for in the past 3 months
  • Medical Check (not always required – dependent on province/ school)
  • CV/ Resume (occasionally it will be requested for this to be translated to Chinese)

If you’re in the UK, please see the link below for information on the ‘no criminal record certificate’ required for the work (Z) visa;


If you opt for the DBS check, a ‘Basic Disclosure’ can be applied for by an individual and costs £25: Basic Disclosure

For American candidates an FBI criminal record check OR State Police check is often required: Identity history summary Check

Irish candidates can find out more about the Garda Check here

South African candidates can apply here for a Police Clearance check

Australian candidates can find out more here about the Criminal Record Background check.

4. Authenticate documents for your working visa


All Provinces in China now require a teacher to authenticate (or legalize) their Bachelor’s Certificate and ‘No Criminal Record’ background check (and in some circumstances their TEFL/ TESOL/ CELTA certificate) via Chinese Government Officials in order to issue the work ‘z’ visa support paperwork.

This is a quite detailed process with several steps involved, and will take around 3 weeks to complete. Visit our page on Authenticating documents for the Chinese work visa for a step-by-step guide to completing the process.

5. Complete your Medical Check


In order to obtain a z visa many schools may require you to complete the following ‘physical examination record form’ whilst still in your home country: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fd/W020110807201675371788.pdf.

Your school will notify you of whether they require this to be done as part of the visa application process.

We recommend going to see your Doctor or Travel Nurse to ask him/her to compete the form as fully as possible. They should be able to complete the majority of the form, but some parts may not be feasible. In our experience, the form can be completed as follows and will be accepted by the Chinese government:

  • The first page should be relatively easy for your doctor to complete
  • On the second page, in the top box, a comment such as ‘normal’ is sufficient
  • In the chest x-ray and ECG boxes please just comment ‘Not applicable’
  • The final box should include a comment stating that you are fit
  • Please ask your doctor to then sign the form with a stamp from your doctors surgery

To date the above has been successful for our candidates. However, please note that should this not be accepted and the full medical examination required, it is likely that you will need a full medical check from a private surgery, which can cost anywhere upwards of $250. Some schools will cover the costs of this examination, other schools will not.

Please note that often you will be required to gain a further medical check-up once you arrive in China, even if you have also had to complete this in your home country. Visit our page on Medical Checks for China for more information

*Note that this information regarding the medical check is purely a guide, and only for reference; policies of the Chinese Embassy regularly change.

6. Send your documents to the school


Once you required documents are collated and authenticated, you will need to scan and email them to your school. The school will then submit these documents along with the required paperwork to the local government in order to apply for your work permit for China.

If the application is successful, you will be issued with a work permit for China within 3-6 weeks- the actual processing time will depend on your specific employer school, and its location. This document will be sent via email, and will feature a barcode.

7. Ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date


You should book a visit to your doctor Doctor or Travel Clinic to provide up-to-date advice on immunisations and other preventative measures relevant to the part of China to which you are travelling.

We recommend that you visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network Centre or review the website of your National Health Service for guidance on vaccination requirements and current information on health issues in China. The following websites can also provide useful information:

This information has been taken from the Foreign and Common Wealth Office website

8. Apply for your Z visa


Now you’ve been issued with a work permit and letter of invitation you can submit a visa application at your nearest Chinese Embassy, Consulate or Visa Office in your home country.

You will need to take your work permit and  invitation letter, along with your passport (valid for at least 6 months) and a completed visa application form to your nearest Chinese embassy or visa issuing authority. In some countries, the application can be sent to the Embassy via recorded delivery. As a guide, it usually takes 5 to 10 days to submit the relevant documents with your passport, and receive the visa.

For UK applicants, visa applications are made through the Visa Service Centre: www.visaforchina.org.

You can apply by post or by making an appointment at the visa centre in London, Manchester of Edinburgh. The Visa centre suggest that when applying by post it should take 10 days to return your passport and visa, if you go for an appointment it should take 4 days and you will be required to return to the visa centre to collect your passport and visa. The Z-visa is valid for entry to China for 90 days after it is issued.

*Important* Please review your country’s Chinese Embassy website:


9. Book your flight


We strongly advise that you do not purchase a non-refundable or flexible plane ticket until your visa arrives at your home. Any delays may mean you need to re-book your ticket, which could result in very high administration fees.

If you are looking to book a Flexible Ticket in advance of your visa application, Opportunity China have partnered with STA Travel to give teachers the chance to book now and pay later as well as change their flight dates. Find out more about how to do this here.

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10. Arrange your insurance


Healthcare is not provided free of charge in China and medical bills can be substantial. Medical evacuation from China is very expensive. We strongly recommend that you ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.

Although many schools will provide teachers with basic health and accident insurance throughout their time in China, it is rare for them to provide comprehensive insurance.

It is therefore important that you review the insurance policy offered by your school and to decide if it will adequately cover your needs. Opportunity China have partnered with Endsleigh to offer a comprehensive insurance plan for all our teachers.

Email info@opportuity-china.com for more information and to receive a quote.

11. Arrange your VPN and Chinese Lesson Subscriptions


If you want to access Google, Youtube, Facebook or pretty much any other popular Western Website in China, then you’ll need a VPN. You can subscribe to Express VPN from as little as under $9 a month. Find out more here.

You may also want to learn some useful conversational Chinese before heading out live and work in a fully immersive atmosphere. Opportunity China have partnered with ChinesePod to offer teachers going to China with some terrific discounts on their subscriptions. Find out more here.

12. On Arrival – Registering With the Police


Before and after your school applies for your Residence Permit you will need to register with your local police station in China.

Again, you’ll need your passport for this, and a copy of your apartment lease if applicable. They will provide you with a Registration Form of Temporary Residence. Failure to get this document may result in fines, so it is important that the police registration is done.