How Do Americans Get Visas for Teaching English Legally in Europe?

Learn how Americans are teaching English legally throughout Europe every year and find out about the guidelines so you can follow in their footsteps.

It is a common misconception that US citizens cannot obtain legal work visas or permits to teach English in Europe. Although it is more difficult in some countries than others, below are several countries in Europe where acquiring a work permit or visa to teach English is possible for US citizens.

How to Work in Europe Legally as an American English Teacher

To work legally in Europe as an American English teacher, you need to obtain the necessary work visa or residency permit for the country you wish to work in. You should research visa requirements, obtain the necessary qualifications, look for job opportunities, apply for jobs, apply for a work visa, and prepare for the move.

Each country may have different requirements, so it's important to do your research and seek advice from reputable sources.

Read more:

Teaching English and Work Permits in Europe

Misinformation is pervasive simply due to English teachers not knowing their options or from TEFL schools who don't work in Europe and just don't take the time to investigate the laws. 

Here are some of the most popular countries in Europe to work legally:

NOTE: There are thousands of foreign English teachers in Europe from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and elsewhere who live and get paid to teach English without a work visa.  Some hold a student visa that provides working privileges which are common in Spain, Italy and France. 

Here's an overview of what work visa options are available to Americans interested in teaching in some major job markets for teaching English in Europe.

The Czech Republic

Although some schools in the Czech Republic sponsor American English teachers for visas, it is much more common for U.S. citizens who teach English in the Czech Republic to apply for a Zivnostensky List or Zivno for short. This type of visa is essentially a type of trade license that legally allows you to work in the Czech Republic.

Read more: Can Americans Get a Work Visa to Teach English in the Czech Republic?


While there are a few exceptions, it is not common (though not impossible) for Americans to get work visas to teach English in France. However, those who participate in the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) do receive a visa to teach English in France within the framework of the program.

Some Americans do teach English on a student visa, which requires enrolling in an approved language program and getting a visa processed in the U.S. in advance.


Americans who teach English in Germany can obtain a “free-lancing visa” to legally work. The process entails establishing residency, filing for a tax number and health insurance, and gaining an offer of employment.

Read through the links below for explanations on how to obtain a free-lancing visa for teaching English in Germany:

Teach English Legally in Europe TEFL


Participants in the CETP program, which places Americans as English teachers in elementary schools, high schools, vocational colleges and even universities, do receive a visa for teaching English in Hungary.



For Americans teaching English in Russia, most schools sponsor work visas for their teachers once they are hired.

Your employer will assist you with the process and provide guidance once you accepted an offer of employment.



Poland is a great market for English teaching and you can secure a work visa through this process.



In the past, the majority of Americans teaching English in Spain worked under the table on tourist visas, but this is no longer the case as authorities have cracked down and schools are far less likely to employ teachers illegally on a tourist visa. Currently, recommended visa options include teaching on a student visa, which provides the ability to work legally. 

In addition, those participating in government programs for teaching English in schools - such as the  North Americans Language & Culture Assistants program  - do receive a work visa.

Teach English in Spain Legally Visa TEFL

Getting a Student Visa to Legally Teach English in Madrid or Barcelona:

If you are interested in teaching English in Spain legally (and not having to be assigned to a random city as you do in the government assistant program) and want to learn Spanish, check out International TEFL Academy's Student Visa Programs in Spain & Barcelona.

It enables you to enroll in a year of part-time Spanish lessons and receive a Student Visa that enables Americans and other non-European Union citizens to work as full-time English teachers.  Participants also receive personal job placement assistance on the ground in Madrid.



It is common for schools in Turkey to help their teachers arrange for work visas and residence permits once they accept a position. Some foreigners gain residency and then work without a work visa, particularly if they work primarily as private tutors or freelancers.

The countries listed above are just the largest and most popular job markets where Americans teach English in Europe. 

From Poland and Ukraine to smaller nations like Slovenia, there are also countries where Americans can and do teach English.

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