¡Hola! Soy Paula, la autora de este blog

¿Dejarías tu trabajo estable para viajar?

Me llamo Paula, y era periodista en Colombia, con más de 6 años de experiencia en grandes medios, cuando renuncié, vendí lo que tenía, y me fui sola por el mundo.

Tuve experiencias espectaculares y otras no tanto, y aquí intento contártelas de la manera más honesta.



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Documents to apply for a WORKING PERMIT IN VIETNAM

Getting the Working Permit in Vietnam to legally teach English is not as difficult as in countries where foreigners are forbidden to work.

As promised in this video, where I explain some reasons to work as English teacher in Vietnam, here is the list of documents required for a Working Permit in Vietnam :

University Degree

It doesn’t have to be related to teaching, as long as you get an official English Teaching certification, as I specify below.

Attention: NEVER ever give your original degree, even if they insist a thousand times. Why? Well, they can use it to threaten and blackmail you, as Elink Vietnam did with me. Just give a notarized copy instead and if they reject that option, look for another place to work (there are thousands of places in the country. Avoid scammers!)

A Business Visa…

… with the company that is offering the job. For this visa, the company must do the invitation letter and send it to you before arriving in Vietnam, because you will need to show it in the airport, once you get to Vietnamese land.

A criminal or Police Check Record…

… made in your country or Embassy. This shows that you haven’t committed any crime. In my case, as Colombian, I did it online and legalized it in the Embassy in Hanoi.

An English teaching certificate

It can be TEFL, TESOL, CELTA… It’s not always complimentary, anyway, if you have studied a Major in English, or you are a native speaker and did a Bachelor’s in something related to Teaching (please confirm this subject, as some companies have different standards).
Working Permit in Vietnam
The price of the TEFL courses depends on the quantity of hours, the type of course and the institution or academy where you are doing it.

Suggestion: do at least the 120 hours’ one because that was the minimum accepted by law, according to my employers).

It’s possible to do the TEFL online but, once again, some companies don’t accept this kind of training.

If you prefer the in-class TEFL courses, check these ones in Bangkok, Thailand, with a recognized company.

My case: problems with the legalization

I did my TEFL course with TEFL Full Circle but I wouldn’t recommend it, as it was not easy to legalize (please read until the end so that you understand what is the legalization about).
I was not in the United Kingdom, where that TEFL company was based, and the UK Embassy asked me to legalize it in London, lol.
Therefore, I did a research on possible TEFL courses that can be recommended to you, with good reputation, and easy to legalize in Vietnam. I found out a serious company that gives different options to legalize the document (no need to travel to the US or UK to do it).
Its name is ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training) and I explain carefully the reasons to recommend it in this other post

If you prefer the in-class TEFL courses, check these ones too in Bangkok, Thailand.

If you are not convinced to do it with them, just remember that the legalization step is very important to get a Working Permit in Vietnam.

REMINDER: Again, don’t give the TEFL original certification either to your employer. Use only a notarized copy.

A letter certifying at least 3 years of teaching experience

To be honest, each person I met there invented this document. This is because (please, don’t be shocked) in order to teach English in Vietnam you don’t really need to be a good teacher.

You don’t even have to speak good English. All you need is to have white skin and blue eyes (if you are white and have brown eyes, it’s OK too, lol. They will «forgive» you). That’s all they look for, as I tell you in this other post.

Temporary residence certificate

You can ask this letter to your landlord, once you choose a place to live in Vietnam.


Ask your employer about the updated size required for the pictures.

A medical check

It can be done in some hospitals of Hanoi. It validates that you are able to work.

The legalization to get a Working Permit in Vietnam

The legalization is not the same as the apostille: as Vietnam is not part of the Hague Convention – by which an apostille certifies a document in any of the member states -, the procedure is different.

Usually, the future employer gives you information about this but taking into account that some enterprises try to take advantage of the teachers, I suggest you to do a little research on your own.

It’s always good to ask in your country about all these documents before traveling, to avoid spending money on delivery and re-delivery.

My experience

I am a journalist, Master in International Affairs, that left everything in Colombia to travel around South East Asia. I did all these procedures once I arrived to Hanoi, Vietnam, the place where I taught English for 8 months.

View this post on Instagram

*ENGLISH BELOW Acá está mi cara de… y esto era todo?! 😂😂😂. Claro, eso era ANTES de que pasara el tren, literalmente, entre las casas de esta calle en #Hanoi 😲😲😲 . Es uno de los puntos más curiosos de la capital de #Vietnam: mientras no está, la gente usa la vía como si fuera su patio trasero: cocinan, lavan ropa, extienden ropa, bañan a los niños…😂 Hasta que pasa el tren, con un estruendo impresionante y a toda marcha, que de verdad no da tiempo sino para arrinconarse lo más que se pueda porque pasa demasiado cerca!!!!! 😥😥😥 . En mis #stories aún pueden ver qué tan cerca pasa de las casas 🤤🤤🤤 . Su frecuencia es de 7 veces al día los fines de semana y 4 veces entre semana. No se lo pierdan cuando pasen por acá😉 . 🇬🇧 So this is my face saying… "that was all????" 😂😂. Obviously, that was BEFORE watching the #train coming, literally, between these houses in Hanoi. . One of the most #curious points of the #Vietnamese capital : while it is not there, the people use the #railway as their own house: they cook, they hang clothes…😂😂😂 . Until the train appears, with a lot of noise and high speed, that you don't have time for anything but to stick to the houses (it passes REALLY close) 👀🙈 . You can still see in my #instagram stories how close it can get! Don't miss it when you #visit around 😉. . #trainstreet #monday #instadaily #photodaily #igers #tourist #tourism #whattodo #instago #cityscape #scary #impressive #wanderlust #wanderluster #dametraveler #viajeras #travelstories #travelblogger

A post shared by Paula Carrillo 🌏 solo traveler (@viejaqueviaja) on

My experience was not very pleasing, though, as I spent a horrible time dealing with an English Teaching mafia, called Elink Vietnam. As I don’t want anyone to suffer the same, I decided to warn everybody.

Therefore, some reasons to do a little research before accepting any English teaching job in Vietnam…


The Vietnamese government created at the end of 2018 a new decree that tightens the regulation for foreign and Vietnamese English teachers. I personally ignore how this is going to affect the list of required documents, but you’d better ask your employer (but beware, as you cannot always trust your employer there), or a Vietnamese lawyer.

6 comentarios

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  • Ma’am, I don’t have any teaching experience. How can I get a letter certifying 3 years of teaching experience? Volunteering experience of a few months taken into count?

    • It depends on your employer. You should ask them directly. Anyway, I would definitely ask for a certificate if you have volunteered

      • Hello!! I read your blog in June and took your recommendation regarding the ITTT Tefl course, even used the discount code. Unfortunately I have the same problem you mentioned about legalizing the certificate here in Vietnam even after paying extra for notarization and all.

        • What??? But they gave me those options, that’s why I recommended it. Please contact me on Instagram (@viejaqueviaja). If that’s true, I HAVE to update this

  • iTTT is not accepted in Vietnam because it is not UK based. I didn’t pay attention to it at the moment of purchasing. iTTT is Tai company and if you would ever need to notarize it has to be done in Tai. Whereas some Vietnamese organisations might accept it, others will not and I have come across this situation. If you want to have TEFL certificate and be sure it would be accepted by schools or authorisation agencies, take UK accredited courses.

    • I highly REJECT this suggestion. DON’T ever take a UK based TEFL for teaching in Vietnam! (EXCEPT if you are Brititsh). As I state in the whole post, if you need to notarize it, you HAVE to do it in the UK or with British lawyers in London. Therefore, you will end uo paying 3 times the price of the TEFL course. Go for ITTT, because it is easy to notarize it /as this person says, Thai based, but handled by Americans, and ASK in your company if they accept it. That was my case and this is why I do these recommendations here.

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