Business Visas and Work Permits in Vietnam

Vietnam’s immigration and entry procedures are governed by Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam (the Immigration Law) which came into force in July 2020.

Vietnam’s visa and work permit procedures may be confusing for first-time visitors. We explain the steps and what foreigners should pay attention to when planning a long-term visit.

How to get a Vietnam visa?

To enter Vietnam, a foreigner needs a visa issued by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. A Vietnamese visa can be granted while in a third country or from within Vietnam.

Citizens of the following countries can receive a free entry visa to Vietnam for the duration listed below:

  • ASEAN countries: from 14 to 30 days;
  • Chile and Panama: 90 days; and
  • Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the UK (British citizens only): 15 days (the gap of at least 30 days in between two visa-free entries has been removed as per the new immigration law).

Citizens of 80 other countries, can now enter Vietnam on a single-entry visa for a duration of up to 30 days, using Vietnam’s new e-visa application system.

Immigration Law has prescribed three working days for the processing time for an e-visa after completing registration and fee payment.

Types of visas for entry to Vietnam

To work in Vietnam and remain for an extended period, foreigners are required to apply for longer-term visas, such as a three-month single or multiple entry visa. Foreigners entering on business visas must collect the business visa at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate – this type of visa has to be sponsored by the employer.

Relevant visa types include: 

Vietnam Visa Types





Tourist visa

3 moths



3 months



Foreign workers/Working visa

2 years



Working with Vietnamese authorities

12 months


Lawyer visa

5 years



Investor visa issued for investors with total investment capital over US$4.35 million, or into ‘prioritized’ sectors, professions, geographical areas determined by the government

5 years


Investor visa issued for investors with total investment capital from US$2.17 million to US$4.35 million, or into ‘encouraged’ sectors, professions, geographical areas determined by the government

5 years


Investor visa issued for investors with total investment capital between US$130,500 - US$2.17 million

3 years


Investor visa issued for investors with total investment less than US$130,500

12 months



Working with Vietnamese businesses

12 months


Electronic visa

30 days



Chief Representative Office in Vietnam, Head of Project Office of foreign NGO

12 months


NGO Staff, Representative Office

12 months



12 months



Diplomatic visa

12 months



Press and foreign correspondents

12 months


Dependents of holder of LV1-2, DT1-3, NN1-2, DH, PV1, LD1-2, LS

12 months


Expatriates visiting their relatives or for other purposes

6 months


Electronic visa (e-Visa) for expatriates holding a valid passport of diplomatic nationalities with Vietnam

30 days

With LV1, LV2, LS, DT1, DT2, DT3, NN1, NN2, DH, PV1, LD1, LD2, and TT visa, foreigners can apply for a temporary residence card within 02 – 10 years depending on the visa type.

Visa type conversion

The Immigration Law currently allows the conversion of one type of visa to another type or purpose, without having to leave Vietnam. Expatriates can be eligible for changing their visa type if they entered Vietnam under the following visa types and meet the following criteria:

  • Investors and representatives of a foreign organization investing in Vietnam;
  • Dependents of Vietnamese citizens; and
  • Being invited or guaranteed by agencies or organizations and having a work permit or work permit exemption certificate.

Following a converting visa application, a new visa will be granted.

Visa exemption for Coastal Economic Zones

The Immigration Law adds to the list one more case of visa exemption for foreigners entering border-gate or coastal economic zones, under the decision of the government. The coastal zone needs to meet the following conditions:

  • Having an international airport and a separate space (definite boundaries and separated from the mainland);
  • In accordance with the socio-economic development policy; and
  • Does not pose a threat to national security, defense, social order, and safety.

This type of visa exemption is valid for 30 days.

Work permit procedures and requirements

A Vietnamese entity can recruit foreign workers to work as managers, executive directors, and experts where local hires are not yet able to meet business requirements. Unlike in certain other Asian countries, Vietnamese representative offices are also able to hire staff directly.

To demonstrate the necessity of a foreign employee, 30 days prior to recruiting the foreign employee, the entity must publicly announce recruitment for this position to Vietnamese job seekers in a Vietnamese newspaper or online portal.

Evidence of this announcement should be added to the application for a work permit for a foreign employee. The other option is to recruit foreigners through a government-owned employment service center.

When is a work permit required?

A work permit is required when working in Vietnam for more than three months. This should ideally be applied 15 days by the employer with the provincial Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) before the foreign worker commences their employment. Work permit processing times take up to 5 business days. However, potential employers and employees should be advised that processing times may vary and government offices may ask for additional documents which may increase processing times. Potential applicants should start the process well ahead of time, ideally three months ahead of work commencement.

A work permit is required to apply for a temporary residence card or a working visa in Vietnam. Under the new Labor Code 2019 that took effect in 2021, work permits are issued for a period of up to two years and restricted to only one renewal.

Eligibility requirements for work permits

To be eligible for a work permit, the applicant must comply with the following conditions:

  • At least 18 years of age and has full legal capacity;
  • Qualifications, occupational skills, practical experience, and adequate health as prescribed by the Minister of Health;
  • A manager, executive director, or expert with technical skills and knowledge necessary for the job;
  • Not serving a sentence; does not have an unspent conviction; is not undergoing criminal prosecution under the home country laws or Vietnamese law; and,
  • A visa granted by a competent authority of Vietnam unless otherwise prescribed by laws. 

Further, foreigners are required to have a practicing certificate with at least five years of work experience in the job that they will be hired for in Vietnam. Alternatively, experts need to have a relevant bachelor’s degree or higher relevant to their job position in Vietnam and a minimum of three years of work experience. In addition, the practicing certificate must be confirmed by an overseas company or organization.

Several documents are required for a work permit application. These include:

  • Application form;
  • Health certificate issued in the past year as per guidelines by the Ministry of Health;
  • Police or criminal clearance certificate, no less than six months old;
  • Proof as a manager or executive;
  • Proof as an expert or technical worker; and
  • Acceptance from DoLISA for the demand for foreign employees.

Currently, work permits for foreigners are valid for a maximum of two years and may be extended once for up to 02 more years.

Termination of work permit

A work permit may be terminated in the following circumstances:

  • Expiration of work permit;
  • Termination of labor contract;
  • The content of the labor contract is not consistent with the work permit granted;
  • If the foreign employee is fired by the foreign employer;
  • Withdrawal of work permit by authorized state agencies;
  • Termination of operation of the company, organization, and partners in Vietnam;
  • The work performed is not conformable with the contents of the work permit granted; and, 
  • The employer that hires the foreign employee ceases its operation.

In certain circumstances, a foreigner may work in Vietnam without a work permit, but they need to apply for a work permit exemption certificate. This certificate is equivalent to the work permit, valid for up to 2 years, and also serves as a basis to apply for a temporary residence card.

A notice must be submitted 5 days in advance to the provincial DoLISA prior to working in Vietnam.

Vietnamese authorities are becoming stricter regarding work permits. Those who violate the regulations by working in Vietnam without a work permit may be penalized or, if unable to meet work permit requirements, deported back to their home countries within 15 days. In addition, the employer’s operations may be imposed with a penalty of up to US$6,600.

Work permit exemptions

The following situations exempt the foreigner from needing a work permit:

  • Working in Vietnam as a manager, executive, expert or technical worker for a period of work of less than 30 days and up to 3 times a year;
  • A member of a limited liability company with two or more members with a capital contribution value of at least VND 3 billion (US$127,000);
  • The owner of a limited liability company with only one member with a capital contribution value of at least VND 3 billion (US$127,000);
  • A member of the board of a joint-stock company with a capital contribution value of at least VND 3 billion (US$127,000);
  • Coming to Vietnam to market products and services for a period of less than 03 months;
  • Coming to Vietnam for less than 03 months in order to resolve an emergency or technologically complex situation that could affect production, which Vietnamese experts or foreign experts currently in Vietnam are unable to resolve;
  • Lawyers granted a professional permit in Vietnam;
  • Heads of representative offices, chiefs of project offices, or someone working for foreign non-government organization in Vietnam;
  • Internally transferred within an enterprise, which has a commercial presence in the committed service list of Vietnam with the World Trade Organization, including: business service, information service, construction services, distribution service, education service, environment service, financial service, health service, tourism service, cultural and recreational services and transportation service;
  • Providing consulting services on tasks to research, build, appraise, monitor and evaluate, manage, and process programs and projects that use Official Development Assistance (ODA) in accordance with regulations or agreements in an international treaty on ODA signed between an authorized Vietnam agency and foreign agency;
  • Marriage to a Vietnamese citizen;
  • Grant of a communication and journalism practicing certificate in Vietnam by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as per the law;
  • Other circumstances specified by the Government. 

Did You Know?
Vietnamese authorities are becoming stricter regarding work permits. Those who violate the regulations by working in Vietnam without a work permit may be penalized or, if unable to meet work permit requirements, deported back to their home countries within 15 days. In addition, the employer’s operations may be suspended for three months with a possible penalty of up to US$3,300.

Temporary Residence Cards

Foreigners who hold work permits valid for one year or more, as well as a holder of work visas, members of management boards of directors, heads of company branches, and Chief Representatives of representative offices of foreign enterprises in Vietnam, can be granted a Temporary Residence Card (TRC).

A TRC is issued by the immigration agency under the Ministry of Public Security, and is valid from one to ten years, depending on the visa type. As per the Immigration Law, the duration of each investor visa type of TRC is based on the amount of contributed capital, as follows:

  • TRC – DT1 visas: up to 10 years;
  • TRC – NG3, LV1-2, LS, DT2 and DH visas: up to 5 years;
  • TRC – NN1-2, DT3, and TT visas: up to 3 years; and
  • TRC – LD1-2, and PV1 visas: up to 2 years.

Investors using a DT4 visa (with a capital investment of less than VND 3 billion, or US$128,800) are not eligible for a TRC.

Expired TRCs will be considered for granting new cards. The validity of TRC is shorter than the remaining validity of the passport by at least 30 days.

Foreign employees with a TRC can enter and exit Vietnam without a visa within the valid terms of their TRC. The processing time typically takes five working days while the fee varies between US$80 to US$145 depending on the duration of the card.

Permanent Residence Cards

An expatriate who has a legal residence while earning a living in Vietnam may also apply for a Permanent Residence Card (PRC); however, they are subject to the following conditions: 

  • The expat works for the development of Vietnam and is awarded a medal or title by the government;
  • The expat resides temporarily in Vietnam for three or more consecutive years and is sponsored by his parent, spouse, or child who is a Vietnamese citizen and has a permanent residence in Vietnam; and
  • Foreign scientists or experts recommended by the head of a ministerial or government agency.  

The processing time typically takes five working days with a fee of US$100. A PRC holder can stay in Vietnam without a visa however, a PRC must be re-issued every 10 years.

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