Authentication Guide

Everyone who wants to teach in China needs a work visa (Z visa). In order to apply, you first need to obtain several documents from your home country. The documents required depend on your qualifications and the city in which you will be teaching. You will need to provide some or all of the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Police check
  • 120 hour TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate or teaching licence.

The documents then need to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in your home country, the country in which the document was issued, or the country in which you are currently residing (as long as you have lived there for more than a year).

Obtaining your Police Check

This document is also called a non-criminal history report, background check, criminal background check, police record or Certificate of Conduct. Please select your country to find information on obtaining your police check:

There are two main institutes in the UK that issue criminal records checks. These are the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which issue a Basic Disclosure, and the ACRO Criminal Records Office, which issues an ACRO Police Certificate. You can apply for either of these certificates online.

US citizens have three options when obtaining their police check. The Chinese government accepts police checks at local level, state level, and federal level. For most people, a local or state level police check is sufficient – however, an FBI check is necessary for those who reside outside the USA. People with minor misdemeanors such as speeding may prefer to obtain the FBI check, as these will only be recorded at local or state-level.

To obtain your police check, contact your local police department where you reside, or last resided, in the United States. Local police departments may require you to appear in person. Ask them to conduct a local or state criminal record search and provide you with a document to certify that there is no history of a criminal record.

Alternatively, you can visit The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBIto obtain an FBI background check by mail.

You will need to:

  1. Complete the Applicant Information Form from the FBI website.
  2. Get your fingerprints taken on an official fingerprint form (FD-258) on standard white paper stock.
  3. Mail your application form, fingerprint card, and payment to the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

You can pay the processing fee by credit card, certified cheque or money order, payable to the U.S. Treasury.

U.S. citizens may also apply to an FBI-approved channeler (a third party that helps deliver your information to the FBI). They will collect your application form, fingerprints, and payment, then submit them to the FBI.

The Police Clearance Certificate is issued by The South African Police Service. You should apply in person at your local South African Police Service office. You will need to provide a full set of fingerprints when you are there and proof of identity will be required. The police certificate takes approximately 15 business days to issue and costs 114R.

Irish citizen should apply in person at your local police station (Garda Síochána). You will need to bring a passport or driving licence, a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and the necessary payment. If you reside outside of Ireland, you will need to apply by mail to the superintendent who is in charge of the district where you previous resided. Contact information is available on the Irish National Police Service website. Once completed, your police certificate will be mailed directly to you.

Visit the Ministry of Justice’s website to obtain your Non-Criminal Record Check. This is a free service and takes around 20 business days.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issues police checks for Canadian citizens. This usually takes three business days or less to process, though extra time should be allowed for delivery by Canada Post. You will need to pay a federal processing fee of $25, and there may also be a fee from your local police. Find where to get your police check here.

Submit an online application here to the Australian Federal Police.


Once you have gathered your documents, you’ll need to get them authenticated by a Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

The process varies depending on which country you are in, and the steps for each are outlined below. Please be aware that your degree and police check must be authenticated in the country (or state) where the document was issued.

  1. First, you will need to get your documents notarized by a solicitor or Notary Public. The ACRO police certificate does not need this step. This person will sign your document (or a photocopy of your document) to certify that it is genuine (or a true copy of the original). Find a solicitor near you here.
  2. Once your documents are notarized, post them to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for legalization. The FCO will attach an Apostille to your documents and send them back to you. This takes 2-5 working days, plus postage time.
  3. Take your documents in person to the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate for authentication. They will be ready for collection in four working days.

For U.S citizens, there are 3-5 steps necessary to get your documents authenticated. Some steps are only needed in certain states.

  1. Get your document notarized by a local notary.
  2. If you’re in Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, or Tennessee: After notarization, your document must also be authenticated at county level. County authentication can be obtained from a circuit clerk, circuit court, county clerk, probate judge, or a superior court clerk.
  3. Get your documents certified by the Secretary of State’s office in the state where the document was notarized. They will put a seal on the document to verify the notarization received in the first step.
  4. If you’re in Washington DC, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia or Wyoming. After your documents are certified by the Secretary of State’s office, they must also be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State.
  5. Finally, take your documents in person to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. This must be the Chinese Embassy or Consulate that holds consular jurisdiction over the state where the document was issued.
  1. Firstly, get your documents notarized by a notary public/registrar at the high provincial courts.
  2. Take your documents to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa (DIRCO) for legalization.
  3. Once legalized, take your documents to the Chinese Embassy for authentication.
  1. Get your documents notarized by a local notary public.
  2. Send the documents to the Legalization Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for legalisation.
  3. Get your documents authenticated at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. You must submit the documents in person or via a courier service.

1. Get your degree and TEFL/TESOL/teaching certificate notarized by a local public notary. The notary will sign the document to certify that it is genuine. Your police check will also need this step if it does not have an ink signature, seal or stamp.

Please note, if you attended the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology, your records must be emailed to the Authentication unit via My eQuals. Contact your university if you need assistance with this.

2. Send your documents to the New Zealand Authentication Unit New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. Please ensure that all of your documents meet the Authentication Unit requirement. Send your completed authentication application form, along with your notarized documents and payments to the Authentication Unit.

3. Submit your documents, either in person or via a courier, to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate for your region. Check where to get your documents authenticated here.

  1. First, get your document notarized by a local notary public, lawyer, or Commissioner of Oaths of Canada. This person will sign your document (or a photocopy of your document) to certify that it is genuine (or a true copy of the original).
  2. Next, your document needs to be authenticated by the Authentication and Service of Documents Section of Global Affairs Canada.
  3. Submit your documents to the relevant Chinese Embassy or Consulate General, in accordance with where the document has been authenticated in the previous step.
  1. Get your documents notarized by an Australian notary public.
  2. Submit your documents for authentication to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  3. Take your documents to the relevant Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. Please note that you must take your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in the jurisdiction where they were notarized.

Nova ESL connects teachers to schools across China. Our mission is to promote understanding between East and West, and to help people experience all China has to offer. Founded by a former ESL teacher from the UK and a Visa Manager from Beijing, Nova ESL has cross-cultural partnership at its core.

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