Visa-free travel opens doors for English teachers

South African passport holders can travel to 104 countries around the world visa-free. For those looking to spread their wings, following two-years of lockdown, this is an opportunity to see the world, without the cost and hassle of long embassy queues and visa paperwork. Countries that are open to South Africans include Thailand, Hong Kong, Ireland and Brazil – some of the most popular destinations for locals looking to secure work teaching English as a foreign language.

“With local unemployment rates at an all-time high, tapping into the international job market exposes locals to a wider pool of available positions, in countries with greater economic stability. Teaching English is a great way to fund an extended overseas stay, since it provides an opportunity to earn an income while travelling and living abroad,” says Rhyan O’Sullivan, Managing Director at The TEFL Academy, South Africa’s leading provider of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualifications.

Those considering a life abroad can leverage the power of the South African passport to scope out their dream destinations, get a feel for the local culture, meet up with potential employers, and plan living arrangements.

“From earning potential to safety, lifestyle, and a lower cost of living – there are a number of reasons why South Africans are interested in finding work abroad. Foreign English teachers typically make enough to save between 30 and 40% of their salaries after expenses, allowing them to cover their bills while still enjoying the culture and lifestyle of their chosen country. Travelling regionally is also far easier, meaning those teaching in countries like Spain can explore France or Portugal,” says O’Sullivan.

To secure a job overseas, prospective teachers require a TEFL qualification – the globally accepted qualification to teach English abroad. “When studied full time, an accredited TEFL course can typically be completed within four to six weeks – giving you time to plan a trip to your new home ahead of time before making the final decision, signing your contract, and making the big move,” says O’Sullivan.

“For countries that do not offer visa-free travel for South Africans, TEFL certificate holders will first need to secure employment at a school in their country of choice – which is relatively easy given the high demand for English teachers abroad. From here, they can work with the school and relevant embassy to secure a working visa in order to go abroad,” says O’Sullivan.

While most visa-free countries do not require more than a passport to clear customs, certain countries may request other documents, such as proof of onward travel, before allowing you to enter. It is also important to note, that Covid-19 travel restrictions still apply in some destinations, as outlined by the restrictions mapping tool, developed by travel website Skyscanner. However, those who have been fully vaccinated and can show proof thereof, generally do not have to quarantine on arrival – although a Covid test may be required.

Offering accessible, flexible and cost-effective ways to get TEFL qualified, The TEFL Academy provides internationally accredited and regulated online courses. The company, who were selected as the Overall Top TEFL Course Provider by Go Overseas for the last three years, also hosts a jobs board on their website where potential teachers can browse through over 1 500 international teaching opportunities. For more information, visit