For every foreign teacher who comes to Thailand to teach English (EFL), once you accept a job offer you must apply for a teacher’s license before you can get a work permit. Even if you have a teacher’s license from your home country, you are still required to have a teacher’s license in Thailand so that you are legally allowed to teach.
Like most things in Thailand, getting a teacher’s license isn’t particularly easy, but if you know how to go about it correctly, it’s not always that hard either.
Who Applies for a Teacher’s License in Thailand? – Technically, although you are applying for the license, the school you have just accepted the job at should do all the paperwork and legwork for you.
So, the simply answer to “who applies for a teacher’s license?” is “your school”. Just get copies of all the paperwork they ask you to get, along with the required photographs, and they should do all the work. Then the only thing you have to do is go to the Thai Labor Department to pick it up.
When Should the Teacher’s License Be Applied For? – As soon as possible after you accept the job. The teacher’s license is required to get a work permit, so if you don’t apply early enough, your work permit won’t be processed in time and you will have to leave Thailand to go to a Thai consulate in another country and apply for another travel visa.
Too much hassle, particularly if you can avoid it.
What You Need to Apply for a Teacher’s License
a) All the paperwork the school gives you to sign – don’t worry what this paperwork is. Most of it will be in Thai and the school will have already completed it. Just sign the bottom of every sheet of paper and date it, to certify you are submitting the necessary information.
Related reading: What is it like teaching English to adults in Thailand?
b) Photographs – how many and what size seems to depend on the area of Thailand you will be teaching in. In Bangkok, the last time I received my teacher’s license, I had to submit eight 1 1/2 inch photos and eight 2 inch photos. Don’t ask me why. I just had them taken and submitted them.
c) Copy of your BA and/or Masters Degree with original transcripts. You may also be asked to provide the original degree certificate. I was asked for it once, but not asked for it every other time.
d) Photocopies of every page of your passport – and yes, that means every page. You will also have to sign all of these and there will be several copies made of each page. You must sign them all.
e) The remainder of the paperwork is supplied by the school – a map of the school, a copy of the licenses of several key school staff (director etc), your teaching schedule (ie: how many hours you will teach, and what subjects) and a whole slew of other things. The school will take care of all of these.
Getting Your Teachers’ License – Once these have been submitted, you will be get a “Receipt of Application” from the Labor Department and you will use this to apply for your work permit (the teacher’s license can take up to a month to be processed, and you need to apply for your work permit before this).
On one occasion, I had to go to the Labor Department myself with the paperwork for the teachers’ license and get the receipt. On several others, the school sent an agent to do it for me – it depends on which school you work for and how much they are willing to pay to make their teachers’ lives easier.
You will have to go in person to pick up your teacher’s license though, once you hear it has been processed. This requires a quick trip to the Labor Department (mine never took more than 30 minutes), where you wil be asked to sign for it and it will be handed over to you.
**One more word of warning – you must have the teachers’ license with you at all times when you are teaching – either with you, or on the school premises. This is in case a Ministry of Education representative does a spot check. Keeping it in your locker is probably your best bet. Especially if it locks. You can then keep a photocopy of it at home, in case it gets lost.
Thailand’s New Teacher’s License Requirements – In the last two years, the requirements for a teachers’ license in Thailand have changed a lot, and now there are more personal requirements (degrees, TEFL certification, teacher’s character, Thai culture course, etc. that you must have in order to get one.
You can find these requirements on the website of the Teacher’s Council of Thailand.