To be able to work in Vietnam, foreign nationals must obtain a work permit granted by competent State authorities.
Work permit requirements
Foreign nationals being managers, chief executive officers, experts, or technicians. Specifically:
- Chief executive officers: who lead and directly operate subsidiary units under agencies and organizations.
- Technicians: who have been trained in a technical or another profession for at least 1 year and have at least 3 years’ working experience in their trained profession.
18 years of age with full civil act capacity.
Being physically fit as required by the expected job.
Being neither criminally convicted nor examined for penal liability according to Vietnamese and foreign laws.
Being approved in writing by the Chairman of a provincial or municipal-level People’s Committee.
Article 3 and 9 of Decree No. 11/2016//ND-CP
Work permit exemptions
Foreign citizens being:
- Capital-contributing members or owners of limited liability companies.
- Members of the Board of Directors of joint-stock companies.
- Heads of representative offices and projects of international organizations or non-governmental organizations in Vietnam.
- Those who stay in Vietnam for under 3 months to offer services for sale.
- Those who stay in Vietnam for under 3 months to deal with complicated technical or technological problems that adversely impact or are at risk of exerting adverse impacts on production and business activities and these problems cannot be handled by current experts.
- Foreign lawyers who have been granted professional practice license in Vietnam.
- It is in accordance with an International Treaty to which Vietnam is a contracting party.
- Students studying in Vietnam.
Notice: Foreign nationals in the aforementioned cases must apply for a Certification of eligibility for work permit exemption, issued by the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
Contents of a dossier of request for certification of eligibility for work permit exemption:
- A written request for certification of foreign workers’ eligibility for exemption from work permit.
- A list of foreign worker(s) stating: full name, age, gender, citizenship, passport number, starting and ending dates of working, and working position.
- Certified copies of documents proving eligibility for work permit exemption.
Article 172 of the 2012 Labor Code and Article 8 of Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP
Sequence of granting a Work permit
Sample of Work permit issued by the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
For foreign employees working in industrial parks, export processing zones, economic zones and hi-tech parks:
Article 7 of Circular No. 32/2014/TT-BLDTBXH
Dossier of application for Work permit
For full contents of an application dossier for work permit, read here (Vietnamese).
Should investors wish to be assisted by M&A Vietnam in applying for work permits quickly with minimal errors, please provide us with the following:
- A health certificate issued by a competent health establishment in Vietnam or overseas within 12 months prior to the date of dossier submission.
- A judicial record certifying that the foreign worker is not criminally convicted issued by a foreign authority. For a foreign worker who resides in Vietnam, only the judicial record issued by a competent Vietnamese authority is required.
This judicial record must be issued within 6 months prior to the date of dossier submission.
A citizen identification card or a passport and a permanent residence certificate are required to obtain a judicial record in Vietnam.
- A written certification proving that the foreign worker is a manager, a chief executive officer, a specialist, or a technician.
- Two 4×6 sized photos, white background, without glasses.
- A certified copy of passport.
Validity period of Work permit
The validity period of a granted work permit must not exceed 2 years and equals to one of the following:
- The term of the labor contract to be signed;
- The period during which the foreign worker sent to Vietnam by the foreign partner will work;
- The term of the contract or agreement signed between the Vietnamese and foreign partners;
- The term of the service provision contract or agreement signed between the Vietnamese and foreign partners;
- The period stated in the service provider’s paper on the appointment of the foreign worker to work in Vietnam to negotiate the service provision;
- The determined period stated in the certificate of the foreign non-governmental organization or international organization licensed to operate in accordance with Vietnamese law;
- The period stated in the service provider’s paper on the appointment of the foreign worker to work in Vietnam to establish its commercial presence;
- The period stated in the paper proving that the foreign employee is permitted to participate in the operation of a foreign enterprise that has already established its commercial presence in Vietnam.
Article 11 of Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP
Cases of termination of validity of Work permits:
- The Work permit expires.
- The labor contract terminates.
- The content of the labor contract is not consistent with the content of the Work permit.
- The contract in the field of business, trade, finance, banking, insurance, science and technology, culture, sports, education or medicine expires or terminates.
- There is a written notice of the foreign side of the termination of sending of foreign citizens to work in Vietnam.
- The work permit is revoked.
- The enterprise, organization or partner in Vietnam or the foreign non-governmental organization in Vietnam ceases operation.
- The foreign employee is sentenced to imprisonment, dies, or is declared to be dead or missing by a court.
When there is a decision on the withdrawal of work permit from the Department of Labor – War Invalids and Social Affairs due to its expiry, the employer is obliged to revoke the work permit and return it to the Department of Labor – War Invalids and Social Affairs.
Article 174 of the 2012 Labor Code
Re-grant of Work permit
Cases in which a Work permit is re-granted
The work permit, though still valid, is lost or damaged, or has its contents changed. The validity period of a re-granted work permit equals the validity period of the granted work permit minus the foreign worker’s working period counted by the time of request for re-grant of the work permit.
For example: The validity of the former Work permit is 2 years (from January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2017). The time to request for re-granting the Work permit is on January 1st 2017, by which time the foreign employee would have worked for 1 year. Therefore, the validity of the re-granted Work permit will be 1 year.
The work permit remains valid for at least 5 days and not exceeding 45 days.
The validity of the re-granted Work permit will be determined in the same manner as that of the first Work permit but must not exceed 2 years.
Sequence of re-granting a Work permit
At least 5 days before the Work permit expires, the employer shall submit a dossier of request for re-grant of a Work permit to the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs that previously granted such permit.
Processing time: 3 working days.
Clause 1 Article 13 and Article 15 Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP
Special cases in which the new application for the Work Permit is required
Foreign employees having been issued the Work Permit that still remains valid are employed by another employer with the same position/title recorded in the current Work Permit.
Foreign employees having been issued the Work Permit that still remains valid work in another position/under another title than which recorded in the current Work Permit, but the employer thereof remains unchanged.
Foreign laborers having been issued the Work Permit which expires demand to continue working in the same position/under the same title recorded in the current Work Permit.
Clause 8, Article 10 of the Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP
Work permit official fees
Fees for granting Work permits to foreign citizens working in Vietnam are stipulated by the provincial-level People’s Council. Consequently, these fees might vary in different provinces and municipalities.
In Ho Chi Minh City:
- First grant of Work permit: ~USD17.4 per permit.
- Re-grant of Work permit: ~USD13 per permit.
In Ca Mau province:
- First grant of Work permit: ~USD26 per permit.
- Re-grant of Work permit: ~USD19.6 per permit.
Article 3 of Circular No. 250/2016/TT-BTC
Penalties when foreign nationals working without a permit
Foreign citizens working in Vietnam without a work permit shall be deported from Vietnam.
Employers hiring foreign citizens without work permits shall face administrative fines of ~USD1,300 to ~USD3,260.
Article 171 of the 2012 Labor Code