What are the requirements for background checks for international teachers?

You may have to jump through multiple hoops and deal with a lot of paperwork to get a job at an international school.

background checks for international schools Search Associates ANZ man staring up at a wall of shipping containers

To secure your work Visa, your new school must collect and submit documents to the local Government on your behalf. These background checks for international schools primarily focus on verifying your teaching qualifications. They’ll typically request a copy of your government-issued teaching credential and your college/university degree. You may also need a police check, depending on the country.

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for additional documents after you think you’ve finished – signed, apostilled, and stamped. Even worse, schools might misplace your documents, requiring you to resend them. To avoid delays, be prepared for anything by having extra copies on hand. This way, unexpected requests won’t slow you down.

Many teachers, particularly those in public schools in Australia and the USA, undergo mandatory fingerprinting and background checks for local employment. If this applies to you, consider requesting a copy of these existing documents to include in your international teaching portfolio. Having them readily available can streamline the application process for overseas schools.

Multiple copies in multiple places

background checks for international schools Search Associates ANZ image of various files and folders

When you decide to start the job hunting process, we advise that you update your CV/resume, scan your passport, teaching registration documents, children’s passports, and anything else you can think of, in a single folder saved in both PDF versions, and JPEG versions, or Apple and Microsoft file versions, and upload these to cloud-based storage. After that, we advise you to upload everything to the document section of your Search profile, correctly labeled so you can find it again easily. Consider leaving any original documents with a trusted family member who can easily access them, just in case, or travel with them in your hand luggage.

Background checks

International schools are becoming more diligent in requiring background checks before granting a teacher a visa.  Some international schools require reports from all countries of previous residence, some from your most current country of residence, and some do not yet require background checks (although this will likely change in the future).

You do not need to have a background/police check to register with Search Associates. 

Heads Up About Background Checks:

  • Background checks are a snapshot in time, and their validity can vary depending on the school’s requirements and the country’s regulations.
  • Even if you have one uploaded on your profile, schools might request a new one for their records and your visa application.
  • The good news is that background checks done near your departure from a country (if you haven’t returned since) can still be valid, even if they have an expiry date.

To comply with the International Child Protection Task Force’s clear recommendations on best-recruiting practices, we advise that you upload a background check to the document section(eg teacher registration card/document/police check) from any previous countries you have worked in for more than 6 months, along with proof of teaching certification such as transcripts and certificates.

Registered candidates can view information on their dashboard about Avvanz as a fee-for-service option for acquiring background checks. Requirements vary depending on your country of origin.

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Checks by country

(If you have a teaching registration with a police check as part of registration, please upload that document instead).

  • UK Candidates: Criminal Background Check  
  • Canadian candidates: Criminal Record Check
  • US candidates: Criminal Record History/ FBI Identification Record Internationally, the FBI check holds more weight and is less time-consuming than pursuing a state-by-state check if you have lived in more than one state. The FBI check covers all 50 US states for felonies and major convictions. The state checks will show arrests and misdemeanors (not necessarily proven), in addition to felonies and convictions in that state.
  • For candidates from other countries, please get in touch with us for further guidance.

Save time and stress!

The document section is a convenient addition to the Search Associates profile, as speaking from personal experience, moving multiple times to multiple countries can cause chaos when locating those all-important papers for employment.  Originally employed internationally as a classroom teacher, I later wanted to teach PE at the same school. The local Government needed proof that I had majored in this at college. Unfortunately, my transcripts were stored underneath our house back home. It was rented out (and my university had been dismantled to make way for a car park). Add a name change through marriage and the process was understandably time-consuming!

Best practice

Obtaining background /police checks after leaving a country is generally harder. It is a good practice to request these before leaving the country in which you are presently employed. Continue to do so in countries where you work in the future. Check with your school’s HR department who can advise you on requesting a police check BEFORE leaving a country.

Search Associates is an integral partner in the International Task Force on Child Protection. We work closely with other recruiting agencies and international schools to preserve international schools as safe places for students. Consequently, we are highly committed to ensuring our candidate members have been thoroughly evaluated. This is not just for the quality of their teaching but for backgrounds clear of actual or suspicious misbehavior around children.  While this means we are asking you to provide more information than we have in the past, we trust you will appreciate that this will ultimately make you, the candidate, even more attractive to recruiters.

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