Vietnam’s Visas and Work Permit Procedures

Posted by Written by Celina Pham Reading Time: 8 minutes

In July 2020, Vietnam made several amendments to the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners. It is important that foreigner workers and businesses are aware of these changes.

After restricting foreigners from entering Vietnam due to COVID-19, Vietnam reopened its borders in March 2022, facilitating the arrival of both foreign workers and tourists.

The following month, Vietnam welcomed 89,193 foreigners, up by 104 percent compared to March.

Many of those arrivals were tourists but many were also foreigners entering Vietnam to conduct business or to engage in long term employment.

The latter often come to Vietnam as employees of foreign contractors; working for, or establishing, foreign direct investment (FDI) projects; or to work for Vietnamese companies, providing skills and knowledge missing from the Southeast Asian nation.

These arrivals must follow strict immigration and entry procedures in order to enter and remain in the country.

Vietnam’s visa and work permit procedures can be confusing for first-time visitors. In this article we’ll explain the steps that foreigners should pay attention to when planning to work in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s Immigration Law

Vietnam’s immigration and entry procedures are governed by the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam, more commonly known as the ‘Immigration Law’.

This most recent iteration of the law came into force in July 2020 and changed a number of restrictions and requirements for foreigners with regard to accessing Vietnamese visas.

Hiring foreign workers in Vietnam

A Vietnamese entity is permitted to recruit foreign workers in order to work as managers, executive directors, and experts where local hires are not yet able to meet production and business requirements. 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 must be presented in 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 hiring foreign staff in Vietnam, there are a number of procedures and processes that must be understood.

Types of work visa

To work in Vietnam and remain for an extended period, foreigners need to apply for a long-term visa. There are a number of options depending on what business or work the visitor intends to engage in.

The most common form of work visa is an LD visa. This is for foreign employees of organizations operating in Vietnam

List of visas for Vietnam

Visa Code Description Validity
DL   Tourist visa Up to 90 days
EV   Electronic visa, or e-visa 30 days
HN   Meetings/conferences Up to 90 days
LD LD1-2 Foreign worker/working visa 2 years
LV LV1-2 Working with Vietnamese authorities 12 months
LS   Lawyer visa 5 years
DT DT1 Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital over US$4.35 million, or for investment into ‘prioritized’ sectors, professions, or geographical areas determined by the government. 5 years
DT2 Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital between US$2.17 million and US$4.35 million, or for investment into ‘encouraged’ sectors, professions, or geographical areas determined by the government. 5 years
DT3 Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital between US$135,500 and US$2.17 million. 3 years
DT4 Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital less than US$135,500. 12 months
DN DN1-2 Working with Vietnamese businesses 12 months
NN NN1-2 Chief representative office in Vietnam, Head of Project Office of Foreign NGO 12 months
NN3 NGO staff, Representative Office 12 months
DH   Student/Internship 12 months
NG NG1-4 Diplomatic visa 12 months
PV PV1-2 Press and foreign correspondents 12 months
TT   Dependents of holder of LV1-2, DTI-3, NN1-2, DH, PV1, LD1-2, LS 12 months
VR   Expatriates visiting their relatives or for other purposes 6 months

Applying for a work permit

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.

Note: Foreign workers cannot apply for a work permit for themself. This must be done by their employer in Vietnam.

Getting approval to employ a foreign worker

Organizations that wish to employ a foreign worker, must first seek approval from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA). Ideally, this should be applied for 15 days in advance of the foreign worker commencing their employment.

Eligibility requirements

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

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • In good enough health to satisfy job requirements;
  • A manager, executive director or expert with technical skills and knowledge necessary for the job; and
  • Not currently subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in Vietnam or overseas or have a criminal record.

Processing times

Processing a work permit can take up to 10 business days. However, government offices may ask for additional documents which may increase processing times. Applicants should start the process well ahead of time, ideally three months ahead of work commencement, where practical.


Costs for a work permit vary depending on the time you intend to stay in Vietnam and the type of visa you apply for. For a full price list see: Vietnam Visa Costs: What You Need to Know in 2022.


Currently, work permits for foreigners are valid for a maximum of two years and are not renewable. A new application must be made if the company wishes to continue employing the foreign worker for more than two years.


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; and
  • The foreigner is sentenced to prison, dies, or is proclaimed missing by the court.

Work permit exemptions

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 a 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 seven days in advance to the provincial MoLISA prior to working in Vietnam.

As per Article 154 Labor Code No.45/2019/QH14, the following categories are exempt from work permits:

  • An owner or capital contributor of a limited liability company with capital contribution value met by the government regulations;
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors or a member of the Board of Directors of a joint-stock company with capital contribution value met by government regulations;
  • Heads of representative offices, chiefs of project offices, or someone working for a foreign non-government organization in Vietnam;
  • Working in Vietnam for less than three months;
  • Coming to Vietnam for less than three months in order to resolve an emergency or a 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;
  • Cases under the provisions of an international treaty to which Vietnam is a signatory;
  • Foreigners who marry Vietnamese people and live in the Vietnamese territory; and
  • Other specific cases allowed by the government.

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.

Entering border-gate or coastal economic zones

Foreigners entering border-gate or coastal economic zones, under the decision of the government, may be eligible to enter visa-free. 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.

Transitioning from one visa to another

Prior to the most recent update of Vietnam’s regulations, foreigners who entered Vietnam on one visa, for example a tourist visa, and then wished to transition to a work visa, would need to leave the country.

This is no longer the case.

In the following situations holders of Vietnamese visas may transition from one visa type to another without leaving the country.

  • 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.

Temporary residence cards (TRC)

A temporary residence card entitles foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam over an extended period (2-5 years).

TRCs for workers

Foreigners who hold work permits valid for one year or more and a work visa, 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).

TRCs for investors

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 when granting new cards.

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$120 depending on the duration of the card.

With a DT1 visa, investors can apply for a temporary residence card initially for two years.

Permanent residence cards (PRC)

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.

Other Common Types of Visas for Vietnam

Note: These visas do not entitle the holder to work in Vietnam.


In addition to updating its work visa process, Vietnam also updated the processes and procedures for the e-visa system.

Tourist Visas

Tourist visas are granted to individuals who wish to visit Vietnam for leisure purposes. They may be granted for up to 90 days.

Entering Vietnam without a Visa

In order to enter Vietnam, most foreigners need a visa issued by a Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. A Vietnamese visa can be granted while in a third country or from within Vietnam.

That said, citizens of a number of countries can receive visa free entry to Vietnam. These include:

  • ASEAN countries: from 14 to 30 days;
  • Chile: 90 days; and
  • Federal Republic of Germany, French Republic, Republic of Italy, Kingdom of Spain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Russian Federation, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Denmark, Kingdom of Sweden, Kingdom of Norway, Republic of Finland and Republic of Belarus: 45 days

Notes: A gap of at least 30 days in between two visa-free entries was required in a former version of the Immigration Law. This was removed in July, 2020, when the revised Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam came into effect.

For citizens of countries not listed above, a visa to enter Vietnam will be required.

FAQ - Vietnam work permits

How do I get a work permit in Vietnam?

You get a work permit in Vietnam by applying to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA). Applications must be made by your employer. Individuals cannot apply for work permits themselves.

How do I get a work permit in Vietnam without a degree?

You get a work permit in Vietnam without a degree only in certain circumstances. This will usually involve proving a certain level of expertise in a particular field but is best discussed with your employer.

Can I work in Vietnam on a tourist visa?

You cannot legally work in Vietnam on a tourist visa.

Do you need a visa to work in Vietnam?

Yes, you will need a visa to work in Vietnam in most circumstances. However there are certain circumstances in which you may be exempted. (See: Work permit exemptions).

About Us

Vietnam Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in HanoiHo Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. Readers may write to for more support on doing business in Vietnam.

We also maintain offices or have alliance partners assisting foreign investors in IndonesiaIndiaSingaporeThe PhilippinesMalaysiaThailandItalyGermany, and the United States, in addition to practices in Bangladesh and Russia.


34 responses to “Vietnam’s Visas and Work Permit Procedures”

  1. Chris says:

    A query, although I think i already know the answer, I’ve been told by the school that I will be working at soon, that my Work Permit also allows me to work at other schools at the same time, ( as I paid for the application ), I haven’t signed any contract thus far, has any one else heard of this?I thought it was as in the US, you have a contract with only one Employer. Or does this simply make it easier to get multiple Work Permits in VN, at the same time, ( is this even possible? )

  2. Edward Barbour-Lacey says:

    Thank you for your question. It is possible to work at multiple schools at one time. However, you must carefully read over the contract that you will be signing with your first school. If they clearly state that you are a part-time employee, and that there are no legal ramifications from your working at additional schools, then you should be fine. Also, pay attention to the clause in your contract that states how long, if at all, your work permit will last once you stop working at the first school. It should be noted that regulations surrounding work permits are often, and seemingly arbitrarily, changed (for example please see here), therefore, pay close attention to any new and upcoming regulations.

  3. Serena says:

    we are having few Chinese employees going to VN for supporting the set up of machines in a semi-conductor company. apart from the abovementioned documents, do we have to apply any other licenses i.e. export licenses for the employees so that they can work in the client’s factories lawfully? the concern is that there may be limitation of technology release in VN. thank in advance for your help.

  4. Dear Serena,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The next steps to support your Chinese employees coming to Vietnam will depend on the duration of their stay.

    I have sent an email to your registered account regarding this issue.

    Kind regards,


  5. Michael Ward says:

    Hi im fully trained chef and been working in the industry for lasst 15 years all around the world, im originally from new Zealand, currently head chef in nz. Im wanting to cook in vietnam but not sure about working visa. Im 31 years old, can you point me in right direction please. Im have heard that if I get 3month visa I can work for that period of time?.
    Thanks mike ward

  6. Dear Mike,

    Many thanks for your message.

    Please see your inbox for details.

    Kind regards,


  7. Mai Doan says:

    Hello there,

    Thank you for the useful information. I am just wondering, would a person has difficulty obtaining a work permit in Vietnam because he/she had previously entered Vietnam on a 3-month business visa? Last year before the implementation of the new regulation on visa types, a foreigner can enter Vietnam on a business visa even without a job offer/business-related invitation letter.

    Thank you,


  8. Mark says:

    i understand the regulations have changed since this article was published
    do you have a more up-to-date article regarding who is eligible and not eligible for resident permit with/without work permit?

    thank you

  9. Michele Patrick says:

    Hi; I was convicted of a traffic violation years ago (in Australia). Am I still eligible for a work permit in Vietnam?

    Regards Michele

  10. Dear Mark,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    Please see your inbox for further details regarding residence and work permit eligibility.

    Kind regards,


  11. Dear Mai,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    A foreigner who has previously obtained a business visa would not have difficulty obtaining a work permit in Vietnam as a result of this.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Kind regards,


  12. Dear Michele,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The traffic violation is not likely to prevent you from receiving a work permit in Vietnam.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Kind regards,


  13. Kenn Gravador says:

    Hi Charles,

    Nice guide that you have there. Is it still up-to-date meaning still currently implemented?

    In any case, can I ask for your advice regarding my situation? Currently, I have a job offer for a consultant role in Vietnam and the period will be at least 6 months. Can I just apply for a business visa (3months validity) and then go back to my home country and come back again so that I can reapply for another 3 months? Or is there any other options that is more preferred like applying for work visa so no need to go back and forth out of Vietnam?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance!


  14. Sean says:


    Thanks for the article.

    I’ve read that it’s possible to enter Vietnam on a 3 month ‘business’ visa and work for 3 months, with the option to renew the visa every 3 months. Is this info accurate? I’m struggling to find this info online elsewhere..



  15. Dear Sean,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The three month business visa is an option for business trips.

    If you plan to stay in Vietnam for a prolonged period, we would be more than happy to assist you in obtaining a work permit and temporary residence card.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Best regards,


  16. Dear Kenn,

    Many thanks for your comment, and congratulations on your new job.

    In your situation, you would not be required to return to your home country, and could receive a new three month business visa in any Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy. Such visas may be extended within Vietnam in some circumstances.

    Best regards,


  17. Great article! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our
    site. Keep up the good writing.

  18. joshua banasing says:

    very helpful article indeed! great job!

  19. jordan says:


    I will be assigned in Vietnam as a Commercial Director and at the same time the legal representative of the mother company from Singapore. We are now on the process of applying for business certificate as 100% foreign investment Enterprise in Vietnam. I saw in your article that foreigners like me who has this kind of position are exempted from needing a working permit. Can you validate this? if so true, how will I apply for the temporary residence visa? Is it automatic?

    thank you!

    Please enlighten me.

    Thank you so much


  20. Joshua says:

    Thank you for your article. I need clarification on this. If a company gives you an invitation with 3-month business visa and your contract with that company ends. Is it possible for another company to recruit you and extent your visa your current visa with their documents and later process your work permit with their documents? If that is not the case, what is the procedure?
    Thank you!

  21. William O'Sullivan says:

    Hi I want a copy of my work permit to see if it is a legitimate document but my employer won’t sent me one. Am I legally entitled a copy if so do you have the legislation or document number. So I can ask for a copy and show them that I am well within my rights to have a copy.

    Would really love your help

  22. Ranji Bryan says:


    I would like to ask about the cancellation of work permit. My employer told me that there is a new law in the Department of Education in Vieynam stating that you cannot work without a TESOL Certificate. I was able to have a work permit because I am an English major and based on the old law, there is no problem with it. I am affected by the new law that’s why I decided to leave the center with the consent of my employer. She told me that she will cancel my work permit since i am no longer working in her center. Together with my Work permit is my LD Visa which will expire on July 2020. Will it also be affected by the cancellation of my Work permit? She told me that it will also be cancelled.

    Many thanks!



    I have been engaged by a company in Vietnam to provide expert supervisory services in the oil & gas drilling industry. The contract is in my name, but can I use my Australian limited liability company to apply for a work permit, or am I exempt even though the contract for Vietnam is in my name only, not the company name.


  24. Jen says:

    I already have WP and Trc can I still use it? Expiration would be November 2021. What kind of processing before I can go back to Vietnam? Thank you.

  25. Pritesh Samuel says:

    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for your inquiry. Please reach out to our business advisory specialists at who will be able to assist you.

  26. Beverley Fowler says:

    Hi there

    I worked in vietnam for just under a year my mum was ill so i returned home to SA. . I had a full time post at the company. Due to covid i could not return. The company have sponsored me with letterbof approval, visa and work permitm i am also a british citizen. I received another contract from the company and i am still waiting for other documentation. Do i have to pay towards the sponsorship etc? Please advise. Thank you.

  27. Pritesh Samuel says:

    Hi Beverly,

    Thank you for your inquiry. Please contact our experts at or who will be able to address your concerns.

  28. Joe says:

    Hi there,

    I would like to visit a manufacturing plant in Vietnam prior to importing their products into my Asian company. What are the visa or documentations required to enable my travel into Vietnam. The manufacturing plant is willing to guarantee my business meeting with them but unsure of the process and documentations required by the immigration.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance


  29. Pritesh Samuel says:

    Hi Joe – Thank you for your inquiry. One of our business advisory specialists will be reaching out to you shortly.

  30. Ruby says:

    Hi there,

    My Partner who is eligible for a 5 year visa exemption, and I are moving to Vietnam. I am going to apply for a business visa or an investment visa. However if I am pregnant will I no longer be able to obtain the visa anymore?

  31. Mark Barnes says:

    Hi Ruby. Thanks for reaching out. I have passed your enquiry on to the visa team and they will follow up shortly. Thanks – Mark

  32. Carmen says:

    Hello I am born in US. My parents are born in VN, now US citizens? Do I have right to abode so I can get lawful employment? how difficult for someone with no official degree but have many years of professional and proven experience. I know this is different but I can get 5 year visa free as my parents are from VN. Hope you can help. Thank you.

  33. AP says:

    hi, i was born in VN but i’m a US citizen, and so i currently have the 5-year exemption visa. can i transfer it to a work permit (processed by my employer) once i’m in VN instead of flying back to the US to apply for the work permit?

  34. Wilf Whitby says:

    Hi There,

    I have a query regarding exiting Vietnam without an exit stamp.

    My girlfriend has a TRC as she is a teacher here but has lost her passport. Everything we have looked at has said that you need an emergency passport and exit stamp. However, we are not sure if this advice is based on the assumption that the TRC is also lost.

    To reiterate: she has an emergency passport and a TRC, the emergency visa will have her old passport number on it: does she still need to obtain an exit visa stamp from the immigration department?

    Thank you for your detailed article.

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