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esl teacher with working holiday visa at the airport

Many countries are reopening their borders, allowing ESL teachers to travel abroad.

So, you’ve come here because you’re ready to venture out into the world. 

But, what do you need in order to teach abroad? 

You may already be familiar with a few basic requirements for ESL jobs, such as completing the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, a current passport, and medical insurance. 

Some countries also require bank statements to show that you have enough money to live in the country for 3 months.  

But, almost all countries require that you have a working holiday visa!

What is a working holiday visa, you ask? It is a permit that enables you to work inside the country of your choosing. 

Some countries, like Dubai and Taiwan, call it a “Digital Nomad Visa” and allow remote work while living in the respective country.

We will take a look at some of the most popular destinations for Teach Away ESL teachers to see what their working holiday visa policies are. 

  1. Spain
  2. Japan
  3. South Korea
  4. Dubai
  5. Taiwan


If you are not from a EU (European Union) country and are traveling from the States or Canada, then you will need a work visa in Spain

Your employer within Spain is the one who needs to request a work visa from the Ministry of Labor. 

Therefore, you will need a job offer before applying for the necessary visa. 

These work visas are valid for the duration of your work contract, but be mindful that they can take up to 8 months to process your application. 

Once your application is approved, you will work with the Spanish embassy or consulate in your country to receive your work and residence visas. 

You will also need the following documents to support your Spanish work visa application:

  • A work authorization document from your employer showing that you’ve been offered a job.
  • A police record that shows you have no criminal activity in the last 5 years.
  • Proof of accommodation to show where you will live during your stay.
  • A work contract that shows what your monthly payment will be.
  • A medical certificate from your doctor showing that you are healthy.


You will want to work with the Japanese embassy in your country to receive your work visa for Japan

To fill out their visa application, you need to provide a photograph and a Certificate of Eligibility.

A Certificate of Eligibility must be filled out by your employer, or someone you know, who already lives in Japan. 

This must also be completed before you apply for your visa. 

The Certificate of Eligibility (COE) will ensure your visa application runs more smoothly and provides proof that you do have a job lined up in Japan. 

Working visas in Japan are good for 1 year and are renewable for up to 5 years. 

You will also be required to have a temporary residence permit and at least $2,000 in savings. 

South Korea 

Due to Covid-19, working holiday visa applications for visiting South Korea are being more closely monitored. 

But, when you apply for your working holiday visa with the Korean embassy in your home country, you will be allowed to stay in South Korea for a year.

You can come and go from the country as much as you like with this one-time only visa, but keep in mind these terms for your application: 

  • Must have return ticket upon arrival
  • Proof of enough funds to support yourself for 3 months
  • Criminal record check


With a renewable Digital Nomad Visa in Dubai, you can work remotely for 1 year. 

You can even live in Dubai while working for an organization that is based in another country.

For a working holiday visa in Dubai, you will be required to have the following: 

  • An employment contract that is valid for one year
  • Proof of your salary that is at least $5,000 per month
  • Remote work with employment outside the UAE
  • Medical insurance


To get a Taiwanese working holiday visa, you must live in a country that has a working relationship with Taiwan! This can include Canada, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom. 

The United States does not currently have a working relationship with Taiwan for working holiday visas.

This one-time visa is valid for one year, but you need to have multiple employers lined up since you can only work for the same employer for up to 3 months. 

Here are a few of the important items you will need to apply for your visa to Taiwan:

  • Proof of a roundtrip flight
  • Health insurance
  • An outline of your travel plans
  • Bank statement with enough funds for your stay

Start your teach abroad journey 

Teaching abroad is a wonderful way to experience new cultures! 

While preparing for this new adventure, be mindful that every single country you choose to travel and teach in will have a slightly different application process

And most importantly, you will be required to have a TEFL certificate and Bachelor’s degree. 

The more you plan your trip in advance, the more prepared that you will be and feel. After all, there will also be a few additional fees that will accompany your visa applications. 

Some will pay up front while others will pay the required costs upon entry into the country you are working in. 

And remember, you don’t have to do every step of the process alone. For instance, seek the assistance of an embassy or consulate within your home country. 

Are you excited to travel and teach ESL abroad? Do you have any advice for new TEFL teachers? Or, do you have any questions that we didn’t answer here? 

Please share your stories, excitement, and encouragement in the comments or on Twitter @teachaway. 

We can’t wait to hear your stories and see where your journey takes you!

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