Congratulations! You’ve accepted or are just about to accept a position overseas. Welcome to the world of international teaching – and all the logistics it entails.
Ok, it’s not all logistics, but there is a lot of admin and HR to get through – and most schools will of course have a great team to help you through this. But there are still some useful things worth knowing whatever stage of the recruitment journey you’re on, so you know what you need to organise before you set off.
Here are five important ‘must-dos’ as you make your preparations:
1. Your long-form birth certificate
This is the A4-sized birth certificate that shows the details of your parents as well as your name, your date and place of birth.
If your original certificate is short-form, you can apply to the General Registry Office (www.gro.gov.uk) for a certified copy of the extract.
It is straightforward (from my experience) and everything can be done online. Should you have a child overseas, you will need a long-form certificate to apply for their first passport.
2. Ensure your (and your family’s passports) cover your contract
Her Majesty's Passport Office have recently issued advice about how long it will take to renew passports. The Labour or Immigration Ministry in most countries will not stick work or dependent visas into passports where the expiry of the visa is after the date of expiry of the passport.
Check that everyone’s passports are valid until at least September 2023 – contracts vary in length but are typically two years.
3. Take a copy of your degree transcript
Even if it’s been a few years since you graduated, international schools will ask for details of your academic qualifications.
Original certificates for A-levels, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications (if applicable) are all needed. Contact the Student Office at your university to request a copy of your transcript of study – there may be a small administration charge.
You’re likely to need your student number, as well as your dates of study.
4. Inform your GP surgery you are going overseas
Under NHS guidelines, patients cannot continue to be registered with the same practice once they move overseas.
Even if you have property in the UK, you will not be resident there and after a period of time you will be deregistered. Speak to the practice manager to find out about the routine in your part of the country.
If you are planning to return to the UK, ask about paying Class 3 Voluntary Contributions for National Insurance – this goes towards your state pension. At present it is around £75 per month.
5. Ensure medication is available in your new location
You can take up to three months’-worth of medication out of the UK but each country has different rules about how much they will allow in (check the travel guidance on www.gov.uk).
If you are on long-term medication, you will appreciate how crucial it is to find out. I have had epilepsy almost all of my life and take a specific combination of drugs to control it.
Be candid with your new HR department that you need to know for definite that the drugs you need are available in the exact dosage you require, and whether the medication is covered – in part or whole – under the school’s medical cover plan.
There is a lot to sort when moving overseas, but don’t be overawed, with a focused to-do list and good support from HR teams it’s all manageable, but being prepared and knowing what you need to sort is definitely worth knowing upfront.
Chris Barnes is an experienced school leader who has spent his career in international schools and the UK independent sector. He currently works in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Follow him at @MrBarnesTweets