Whether they have just moved here or have been in the country for years, expats are always on the lookout for the most efficient and hassle-free way to work legally here.
Do a quick search in Google and you’ll find a number of websites and Facebook groups providing reams of advice. One company even offers a “complete hand guide” for a small charge.
But with a lot of varying information it is hard to get to grips with exactly what is required, whether it be documentation or otherwise.
So, here’s a breakdown of the process as well as some advice from expats who have already gone through the steps.
Work permits are issued by the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and are valid for three years, after which foreign applicants have to apply for a renewal.
You need to tick a few boxes, including being over 18 years of age and providing satisfactory health checks such as basic sight and hearing tests.
Unsurprisingly, you must have no criminal record in your home country, Vietnam or any other country.
You will also need a university degree or another form of professional skills certificate, as well as a work contract and support from your employer.
In addition to this, your documents must be notarised – either in your country of residence or in Vietnam.
Organisation is key to getting your work permit as quickly and as smoothly as possible, particularly when it comes to getting your documentation notarised.
“I think it'd be easier to at least start the process while you're in [your country of residence],” says one expat, who now works as an accountant in Vietnam. “For example, definitely get your notarised work forms done at home. I did these while I was here and it made life a lot harder.”
Another expat, who works as a teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, agrees that getting various documents notarised in Vietnam can make the process longer.
Starting the process at home is particularly crucial to getting your police checks done with minimum fuss, since they can take a while to sort outside your country of origin.
You’ll need a criminal background check from your country of origin, unless you have lived in Vietnam for over six months – though this requirement has been known to change from one month to the next.
“Most people forget their police certificate and it has to be six months valid from your country,” says another expat.
“If you forget this, like I did, or you don’t have one, then you have to go to your country’s embassy in Vietnam, which can cost more time and money.”
Work Permit Exemptions
There are exceptions to the rules, though, which means you could be exempt from having to get a work permit in the first place.
For instance, if you are working in Vietnam for less than three months, a work permit is not required.
Likewise, if you are the head of the representative office or branch of an international company in Vietnam you will not need one either.
If you still feel in the dark, however, companies such as Resident Vietnam can help with this process.
“I cannot recommend them enough,” said one expat who used the company’s services this year. “They answered my questions almost immediately.”
Failing that, many companies taking on foreign candidates are willing to take care of the application for you.
“My company fixed mine for me,” says one expat. “I just gave them the paperwork and they did the rest for me so it was easy enough. You’ve just got to tick the necessary boxes and get everything together one step at a time.”
Expats who are already in Vietnam often report having to do a ‘border run’ in order to leave the country on their tourist or resident visa and then return through immigration with their offer of employment. Thailand and Cambodia are typical destinations for these quick trips.
Just remember, the best advice is to get as much of your documentation sorted ahead of time and be as organised as possible in order to avoid any delay.