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There has been a lot of confusion when students are required by employers/agents to have their TEFL certificates authenticated. Authentication is required for documents where the country requiring the authentication is not a signatory to the Hague Convention e.g. China and Vietnam.

Some countries (e.g. China/Vietnam) may request that a job applicant have their TEFL certificate authenticated as this is required by the government in order to process work visas/permits. Often employers and agents will in many cases provide prospective teachers with false and inaccurate information which has further exacerbated the confusion.

So, how does one have a TEFL certificate authenticated? Firstly, it must be understood that only an original TEFL certificate with original signatures can be authenticated. This means that you cannot have a digital certificate (that you printed out from your computer) authenticated. So, if you have been issued with a digital certificate by your TEFL course provider — then request/order a hard-copy with original signatures.

Now, once you have your original TEFL certificate in your hand – you will need to take it to a Notary Public in your country to be notarized. Then, once the TEFL certificate has been notarized, it must be taken to the embassy concerned (e.g. Chinese / Vietnamese embassy) in your country to be authenticated/legalized. *It must be mentioned that some teachers have reported having their original TEFL certificates notarized and authenticated in Vietnam – but, it would be best to check with your employer.

Authentication of a TEFL certificate can be an extremely time consuming, stressful and expensive undertaking and has caused many a headache. It is recommended that one find an agent to take care of the authentication process on your behalf  as it will be well worth the money spent. There are many agents around the world that can provide such a service for you and they can be found via an internet search engine. *It is understood (although still causing confusion and debate due to limited information provided by the authorities) that online TEFL certificates can be authenticated in a student’s country of origin as the TEFL course provider may be located in another country. It is important to note that students/TEFL graduates should communicate with their employers/agents and request assistance with the process of having their TEFL certificates authenticated.

It is not the responsibility of TEFL course providers to assist with the authentication of TEFL certificates and this remains the responsibility of student’s/TEFL graduates (with the guidance of their prospective employer/agent).