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
|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|
|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|
|*To acquire a tourist visa for Vietnam exceeding 30 days, visitors must be sponsored by a travel agency.|
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.
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.
To be eligible for a work permit, the applicant must comply with the following conditions:
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:
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:
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.
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:
This type of visa exemption is valid for 30 days.
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.
A temporary residence card entitles foreigners to enter and exit Vietnam over an extended period (2-5 years).
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).
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:
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.
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 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.
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, allowing a single-entry visit with a duration of up to 30 days, for 80 nationalities.
Tourist visas are granted to individuals who wish to visit Vietnam for leisure purposes. They are normally limited to 30 days, however, with the support of an authorized tour company they may be granted for up to 90 days.
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: