It would be an understatement to say that the world is in a tough place right now. After a year of hearing about bad news after bad news, we’ve done our very best to keep ourselves sane. Well wanted to go to the bar and have a beer and wait for all of this to blow over. But it wasn’t even an option. Instead, we have been exercising, learning new recipes, or binging Netflix. Many have been looking abroad to a brighter future and dreaming about travel in 2021.
Thankfully, there’s some optimism. You could use the cliche ‘it’s always darkest before dawn’. Vaccines are being rolled out and travel bans being lifted on certain countries. We can finally start thinking about our TEFL adventures again. The exotic cuisine, the stunning beaches, the bustling cities rife with socializing, it’s all within touching distance. In fact, right now is the perfect time to become TEFL certified.
However, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and times have changed. We might feel more nervous boarding a flight. It might be much more expensive to travel. There are many obstacles to overcome to finalize our move abroad. It’s stressful enough having to navigate and complete the paperwork to begin your journey, let alone in a pandemic. That’s why we’ve gathered a list to help you consider what you might need to do to teach and travel in 2021.
Legalized & Notarized Documents
Not much has changed with authenticating documents, however, it’s a crucial step of the process that needs to be addressed. Once you receive an offer to work for a company or a school, you’ll be required to provide proof of your credentials. You’ll need to legalize and notarize your degree, your TEFL certificate, and you’ll need to complete a police check in your home country.
If you’re in the UK, this will be in the form of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Are you from the United States? You might need a Criminal Record History / FBI Identification record. If you’re South African, you’ll need a Police Clearance Check. And so on.
These police background checks don’t last very long, usually up to 6 months. So, be sure that it is still valid when you are applying for your visa and work permit.
Some countries will have different requirements when it comes to legalized documents. Some will require that the documents that are legalized are original, rather than copies. This is especially the case for the police check, which will expire as opposed to the lasting degree and TEFL certificate.
How Do I Authenticate My Documents to Travel in 2021?
These documents need to be legalized and notarized. That means that you must get the documents certified by a notary public or registered solicitor in your home country. This is a standard procedure to ensure that your documents haven’t been manipulated in any way. We get queries about this every day so get in touch and we can direct you where to go, and what to do.
Later, you might send your legalized and notarized documents to the embassy of your employer’s country as you wait for your visa to be processed. When this process is complete, you will have your documents stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Foreign Office of your country’s equivalent.
Before we move onto the next section, you need to make sure that the name on your passport matches the name on your degree and TEFL certificate. Annoyingly, like me, you might find that your middle name isn’t on your degree. I didn’t think it was necessary to have it on my degree certificate (it’s a stupid name anyway), and it came back to bite me.
It’s very important for the visa process that your documents match. However, if you decide not to have your middle name on your degree or TEFL certificate, there are ways to work around this.
In my experience, I had to pay for the university to add my middle name onto the certificate to prove that the documents belong to me. This didn’t cost too much, but it was a hassle, and it could be more difficult to do during the pandemic. Additionally, if the name on your passport differs from one of your documents, it is possible to make a name oath to confirm that it is in fact your document. In Vietnam, for instance, you’ll be required to go to your home country’s embassy to complete this name oath.
If you have plenty of time, play it safe and make sure that your name is the same on each of your authenticated documents before you travel in 2021.
COVID Tests and Health Certificates
One of the new major differences you’ll notice when preparing to travel in 2021 is that you’ll likely need to prepare for a Covid-19 test. You’ll need to prove that you aren’t carrying the virus. You’ll be required to test negative, usually within 72 hours before your flight. This could be a requirement of the airline you’re traveling with or even the embassy in your home country.
Many will require you to complete a PCR swab test to be considered ‘fit to fly’. This is because the antigen test is not as accurate as the PCR test, and it may even provide a false negative. For that reason, the PCR test is the most efficient route to take. This is also the test that is used by the NHS for UK travelers.
Then, there are also the LAMP and the TMA tests. However, each test is valued differently according to countries. While you can use the TMA test in Spain, they may not be as accessible in the UK. The required test may vary from country to country or airline to airline. Be sure to use the appropriate test.
A Negative Test… to Send Your Documents?
Additionally, some countries may need you to test negative before you apply for the visa application. As strange as it sounds. This was the case in the UK when Covid-19 cases were at their highest. To apply for a working visa in South Korea by mail, you had to include a negative test.
The South Korean Embassy website stated that the Covid-19 PCR test result was necessary to complete your visa application. This test is issued within 48 hours when the application is received by the Embassy. This can make it tricky and very stressful to get the timings right. However, the previously mentioned step is temporarily waived, meaning it is not necessary for the time being.
So remember, the tests you are required to take will vary depending on your nationality, where you’re departing from, and where you’re going. They’ll also vary in the time frame you need to complete one before your flight. Be sure to check with your airline or the website of your destination country’s embassy/consulate about the requirements. If there was ever a time to ask questions, it is now!
Fit to Fly Certificate for Travel in 2021
While you may have access to free testing facilities like that of public healthcare (e.g. the NHS), they can’t ensure time effectiveness or a health certificate. You may need to go private to prove that you are in fact healthy and fit to fly. With private healthcare, you’ll be given an internationally accepted travel certificate.
You can order pre-flight Covid tests or you can test at a clinic, and you can guarantee when you will receive the results. If you’re required to prove you tested negative within 72 hours of a flight, you can receive a certificate within 24 hours, or even on the same day, depending on your provider. This will cost you more, of course. However, it’s an investment that will ensure things go smoothly and won’t put your plans to travel in 2021 in jeopardy.
Straight into Quarantine
Just like test requirements, quarantine will vary from country to country. Some countries, like Thailand, will require that you stay in a state quarantine, and travelers will be expected to pay for the expenses themselves. Similarly, if you’re traveling to Vietnam, you’ll need to pay to stay in a quarantine hotel.
In Vietnam, you’ll be given a choice of government-approved hotels in the range of $1,000 for 14 days, depending on the quality of your hotel. You’ll be given meals, as well as transportation to and from the hotel. In Thailand, you’ll be put in state quarantine accommodation approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, for roughly the same price.
This will put a dent in your budget, unfortunately. However, there’s no other way around it, and your experience will make up for the damage. You need to make sure that you are bringing enough money for quarantine, rent, and living expenses before you’re paid.
On the other hand, you’ll have countries such as South Korea. If you’ve accepted a job to go to South Korea, they typically pay for your airfare (or partially pay for it), as well as your accommodation, where you can quarantine. This means that you can basically quarantine for free (and decorate your house to pass the time).
Quarantine will typically be 14 days, however, it is always subject to change. For example, Thailand had reduced its quarantine time to seven days for vaccinated travelers, and 10 days for others. Then, after the country saw more positive cases, they reimposed the 14-day quarantine for all travelers.
Be sure to check the updates of your destination’s policies, as you could be required to pay additional fees or spend a longer period of time in quarantine than initially anticipated.
Insurance for Travel in 2021
While we like to be optimistic and look forward to our adventures, accidents do happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry. During the pandemic, especially, travel insurance has become more important than ever. When you’re TEFL-ing around the world in 2021, you need to ensure that you can rely on your provider to cover you. You’ll be pleased to know that there ARE travel insurance providers which will cover you for Covid-19 complications.
You need to choose travel insurance which can cover your medical expenses if you are injured or sick, at the hands of Covid-19 or something else. Additionally, you must disclose whether you have a pre-existing condition, or your travel insurance will be invalidated. You should find a provider that can cover:
- Medical bills and emergency treatment (which can be very expensive)
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Flight cancellation (Covid-19 related or not)
- Damage, theft, and loss
- Teaching in the workplace – many will only cover travelers and not workers.
Will I Be Covered for Covid-19 Complications?
New on the list is Covid-19 complications. If you get the right insurance, you’ll be covered if you contract Covid-19 at home or abroad. Staysure, for example, will cover you for “specific reasons” in the coronavirus pandemic, such as your medical expenses and cancellations if you test positive. Similarly, Backpacker Travel Insurance will cover you for flight cancellation as a result of a positive Covid-19 test or your medical expenses abroad due to the virus.
These are only two of many examples of insurance providers that cover Covid-19 related complications. There are many more insurance providers which may be more fitting for your requirements. You can use GoCompare and similar websites to ease your search for reliable and budget-friendly travel insurance.
Please note that insurances will vary not only from provider to provider, but may be subject to change depending on how countries deal with the pandemic. ALWAYS READ THE SMALL PRINT!
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost to Travel in 2021?
Much like everything else on this list, it depends. It depends on your age, whether you have pre-existing health conditions. It depends on where you’re going, and for how long. Also, needless to say, it depends on how much you are covered for. You could find the price range varying between something like $200 to as much as $800.
What Won’t Be Covered?
However, providers won’t cover your claim if you’re traveling against the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs. This means if you’re doing non-essential (such as a post-teaching vacation) travel to a high-risk country.
Additionally, your insurer won’t cover you if you have a known pre-existing medical condition but didn’t disclose this when you bought the insurance.
Unless you spend the extra money on an additional ‘sports pack’, you might not be covered for extreme sports or ‘hazardous activity.’ This could be in the form of bungee jumping, water skiing, martial arts, or something else which might cause injury. Be sure to check that your provider covers these activities.
There are many providers which will be right for your needs and nationality, be sure to thoroughly research what your insurance provider does and doesn’t cover. Once again, ALWAYS read the small prints. Check whether they cover you as a worker and whether Covid-19 complications are exempt from the provider.
Get Ready to Travel in 2021!
Once you’ve completed these annoying, expensive, and time-consuming obstacles, you’ll be in for the experience of a lifetime. No one should spend their entire life not knowing what is elsewhere in the world, and these obstacles shouldn’t excuse you from doing so. You can come up with a million excuses not to do something, and these essential steps of securing your place abroad shouldn’t stop you. All you need to do is authenticate your documents, obtain your pre-departure Covid-19 test, calculate quarantine costs and buy travel insurance! Your destiny as a TEFL teacher awaits, stop contemplating and start doing!