So You Want to Come to Korea? Part 1: A Boatload of Documents

After 8 months here in the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’, 8 months spent recommending it to anyone who’d listen for longer than a second, I’ve decided it might be time to let you know how to get here. Hopefully those 8-10 second recommendations have piqued at least some curiosity!

I hope do do a few posts in this series about coming to Korea, the first of which is about the documents you’ll need to get here, or at least get a visa application to do so. Please note that this guide is most applicable for the Irish out there and those looking for a basic guide to getting yourselves together enough to make it to Korea.

So, tell me what documents I need Emmet!!!

No you do not need to send your mortar board too… Surprisingly

First and foremost is a Bachelor’s Degree from a university in an English-speaking country. This is basically non-negotiable in Korea as it is a visa requirement in order to be an English instructor, using the E-2 visa at least. The same is true for many Asian countries these days as wages are very competitive!

On the academic theme, you also need a set (or two) or signed and sealed transcripts for all your years at university. This is a pain in the face, especially if you’ve left university a while I’ve been told, so request these early and be incredibly clear that they must be signed and sealed!

Now, you need a Criminal Record Check (not the same as vetting, be very clear on this) which are free in Ireland, you just need to write request and file it in the Garda station with a copy of you birth cert and a list of previous addresses. It’s not incredibly complicated but, if you’ve had a lot of addresses then it can take a few weeks so get on this one early! It’s valid for 6 months anyway, so you’ve got time once you get it (providing it’s clean of course)!

Next, you need a copy of your degree, as true to the original as possible, and you need your Criminal Record Check, the original, a copy does not cut the mustard on the CRC. Take them to a solicitor’s office and have them notarized by a Notary Public (not a sergeant or a priest as many will tell you, in Ireland at least). This process can cost a lot if you don’t happen upon a kind solicitor willing to notarize for a very very low price, which they should as it takes about 5 minutes per document!

Then you have to take the copy of the degree, the original CRC and your passport to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and have them apostilled for the cost of €40 per document (god knows why bureaucracy is so expensive but there you have it!!).

Also, if you’ve got one, get a copy of your TEFL cert too, I wouldn’t notarize or apostille this one personally, probably because I had to get a loan to do the others in the first place, and secondly because few employers desperately seek it.

Finally, you need a medical check form, which will be supplied by your recruiter (more on those later). This is basically a testament to your good health. My form didn’t need to be signed by a doctor so I did it myself, perhaps one of my duller moments if I’m honest. Get yourself to a doctor and get checked for the usual things, and STDs, Korea is very serious on the not allowing STDs (AIDS in particular) into the country. If like me, you aren’t arsed and arrive to Korea with the “I’m standing talking to you so I’m healthy as I could possibly be” attitude, you might be caught out at you medical exam here in Korea. This is not a trivial matter and can land you on a plane home faster than you can say “anyeong” (hello). Lucky for me, my problem was too much alcohol in the days leading up to my departure, in my defense it was my birthday, and the docs dealt with it in the usual Korean fashion: quickly.

I know it sounds like you have to get more documents together and bring them here, there, and everywhere, but if you are organized it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Allow time before departure for everything to come together, don’t just tear into a stressful two weeks of buzzing about like a blue-arsed fly, stressed to your tits and then jetting off on the next flight. Trust me on that one, it makes for a bumpy landing on the other side.

Once you’ve got your act together, or even while you’re getting it together, you need to find a recruiter.


Don’t panic, I hope to be able to let you know what needs to be known about these companies in the coming days, so stay tuned TEFLers! Same bat-time, same bat-channel…

You can now find part 2 here!


13 thoughts on “So You Want to Come to Korea? Part 1: A Boatload of Documents

    • I’m not sure if you’re based in Ireland or not, but I got mine from The Bridge Mills Language School in Galway. It was a 4 week taught course with teaching practice included! To be honest I would recommend a taught course over an online one as many in the industry will not accept the online courses!

      Hope this helped! 🙂


      • Thanks!
        Sorry, I’m from Guam. A tiny island in the Pacific not so far from Korea. I’m graduating from University by 2015 and I’m looking into teaching English abroad. Im trying to do my research but it’s getting pretty daunting!


      • Ah I see! Teaching English abroad seems daunting at the outset but if I can do it anyone can!

        I too was a fresh off the university conveyor belt recruit so don’t worry about inexperience. Although any experience you can pick up will definitely make you stand out!

        Keep places like Hong Kong and China in mind too when applying as there are so many options now! Best of luck with everything!


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s