Article 3 minute read

How to get a work permit for Vietnam

07 June 2018

There are several job categories that foreigners can apply for, and specific conditions they must meet to qualify.

The liberalisation of Vietnam’s economy has created favourable conditions for those looking to expand their business to the country. The flow-on effect has been an increase in opportunities for foreign workers in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government has improved its legal framework to manage this economic development and social security - especially around foreign workers - more effectively. Decree no. 11/2016/ND-CP and the guidance Circular no. 40/2016/TT-LDTBXH have been issued, which updates the requirements for work permit applications.

Here’s what you need to know when applying for a work permit in Vietnam.

There are several categories under which foreigners can apply for a work permit, and they include:

  • specialists
  • managers and executive directors
  • interns
  • short-period contract experts.

A specialist must be certified by the relevant foreign authority or organisation as an expert; have a university equivalent or higher degree; have at least three years’ working experience in the speciality in which they were trained; have work experience compatible with their proposed position in Vietnam.

According to the Law of Enterprises, a manager can be an owner of a private company, a general partner, the chairperson or member of the board of members, the company’s president, the chairperson or member of the Board of Directors, Director/General Director, or a person holding another managerial position who is entitled to enter into the company’s transactions according to the company’s charter.

A manager can also be the head or deputy head of an agency or organisation.

An executive director is a person who is the head of, and the direct executive operator of, a subsidiary unit of any organisation or enterprise.

Foreign students must have an internship agreement signed with an agency, organisation or enterprise in Vietnam.

There is another category that covers foreigners entering Vietnam for less than 30 days to work as a manager, executive director, expert or technician. However, the cumulative period of working in Vietnam in a year must not exceed 90 days.

Requirements to apply for a work permit in Vietnam

Foreigners applying for a work permit must not have a criminal record or be subject to criminal prosecution pursuant to Vietnamese and foreign laws.

Copies of passports need to be certified by the authority of the applicant’s home country. A pre-approval letter on the need for using foreigners is not listed in the application dossier, however, the Vietnamese employer is still required to report these needs to comply with the regulations.

Special circumstances can apply to individuals who have been previously granted a work permit where the paperwork can be simplified significantly given the existing records in the immigration department can be used to support the second or third application.

Application process

You will need to do the following in order to apply for a work permit in Vietnam.

  1. Obtain a letter from your employer that confirms your position in the country.
  2. Prepare three passport photos.
  3. Go for a health check-up and get a certificate from a hospital in your home country or in Vietnam.
  4. Obtain a criminal record check from your home country.
  5. Prepare all the necessary documents along with application forms to submit to the Department of Labour in Vietnam.

What can go wrong?

The government of Vietnam will deport any foreigner who is working in Vietnam without a work permit, or on an expired one.

As for employers, an administrative penalty ranging from VND5 million to VND10 million will apply if they fail to, or insufficiently report, any employment of foreigners to the authorised agencies.

If employers employ any foreigner without a work permit, with an outdated one, or without confirmation issued by the competent authority of work permit exemption, the employers will be subject to penalty ranges as follows:

  • VND30 million to VND45 million for up to 10 foreign workers
  • VND45 million to VND60 million for 11 to 20 foreign workers
  • VND60 million to VND 75 million for over 21 workers.

Employers could also be suspended from operating for up to three months if the violation is serious enough.

Talk to us

Applying for work permits in Vietnam can be complicated if you do not have adequate local knowledge or experience. TMF Vietnam’s experts in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City help companies of all sizes with HR support, as well as providing payroll, accounting and tax services.

Need more information? Talk to us.

Written by

Jack Nguyen

Managing Director

Insights and updates delivered to your inbox.

Sign up to receive a weekly round up of posts that matter most to you. 

Sign up now