Essential Insights for Working in Vietnam as a Foreigner

May 28th, 2024
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With its dynamic growth and strategic location in Asia, Vietnam offers ample opportunities for foreigners seeking employment. Therefore, this guide aims to provide comprehensive, step-by-step advice to help you navigate working in Vietnam as a foreigner. From understanding visa requirements to adapting to the local culture, we cover everything you need to know to successfully land a job in this vibrant country.

The Appeal of Working in Vietnam as a Foreigner

Vietnam, a culturally rich and vibrant nation, has transformed into a bustling center of global trade and a hotspot for foreign investors, making it a goldmine of opportunities for those seeking to broaden their experiences and work abroad.

From the dynamic cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to the scenic charm of Da Nang and Hoi An, Vietnam presents a fascinating blend of time-honored traditions and progressive aspirations.

Moreover, this Southeast Asian jewel is not only a gateway to a diverse range of cultural experiences but also a promising platform for career progression and personal development.

With the government’s proactive initiatives to draw skilled professionals from overseas and a rise in international collaborations, Vietnam has emerged as a compelling destination for a wide array of career opportunities.

The Advantages of Working in Vietnam as a Foreigner

Here are some advantages you can find working in this beautiful country:

  • Vietnam is experiencing rapid economic growth, opening up a wide range of job opportunities, particularly in the fields of technology, manufacturing, and services.
  • Living in Vietnam is quite affordable, especially when compared to Western countries. This affordability extends to essentials such as housing, food, and transportation.
  • The country boasts a rich cultural heritage that can be experienced through its traditional festivals and diverse culinary scene.
  • Vietnam’s strategic location in the heart of Southeast Asia makes it an ideal base for regional travel and exploration.
  • The Vietnamese government is supportive of foreign businesses, offering tax incentives and streamlined procedures.
  • A strong expat community in Vietnam provides a supportive network to help newcomers integrate and settle in comfortably.
  • English is widely used in business, which minimizes language barriers for English-speaking professionals.
  • Vietnam is known for its low crime rate and infrequent natural disasters, contributing to a safe and stable living environment.
  • Expats in Vietnam often enjoy higher salaries, resulting in more disposable income compared to other Southeast Asian countries.
  • Vietnam offers breathtaking landscapes, from pristine beaches to lush mountains, providing ample opportunities for both relaxation and adventure.

Requirements for Working in Vietnam as a Foreigner

If you’re considering working in Vietnam as a foreigner, it’s important to understand the requirements and legalities involved. Vietnam offers a vibrant culture and a growing economy that attracts many expatriates. 

However, to work legally in this country, there are certain criteria that must be met:

  1. Age and Health: The first requirement is that you should be over 18 years old and possess a good health condition that aligns with the job’s specific demands and requirements.
  2. Criminal Record: It’s crucial that you have a clean criminal record, not only in your home country but also in Vietnam. You should not be currently facing criminal prosecution or serving a criminal sentence.
  3. Qualifications and Experience: You need to meet certain qualifications and experience requirements depending on the job position. For example:
    • For foreign experts: Having a bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent) and a certificate demonstrating at least 3 years of experience working in the field relevant to the job position; or Having a certificate of at least 5 years of experience working in the field relevant to the job position.
    • Technical workers: Having been trained in technical or other fields for at least 1 year and having worked for at least 3 years in that field, or Having a certificate demonstrating at least 5 years of working experience in a job suitable for the position expected to work in Vietnam.
    • Directors, CEOs: Decision on the appointment, and Having a certificate demonstrating at least 3 years of working experience in the relevant position.
  4. Legalization of Documents:
    • Valid Passport
    • Health Check
    • Education and Work History Documents
    • Professional Qualifications
    • Foreign or Vietnam Criminal Record
    • Certificate of Experience
  5. Employment: In order to be eligible for a Vietnam work permit application, the foreigners have employment in a company/entity registered and recognized in Vietnam.

What You Need To Know About Obtaining a Vietnam Work Permit

Obtaining a Vietnam work visa is essential if you are considering relocating to Vietnam for work purposes. 

Overview of Visa Type

If you’re planning to work in Vietnam, it’s crucial to understand the different types of visas available:

  • Temporary Resident Card: Ideal for foreign workers with long-term contracts in Vietnam. It’s usually valid for one to three years and can be renewed.
  • Business Visa: This could be your go-to option if you’re involved in business activities or have job assignments in Vietnam. It’s typically valid for multiple entries and can be extended.
  • Investor Visa: If you’re investing in Vietnamese businesses and plan to participate or manage the operations, consider this visa actively. Minimum investment amounts apply.
  • Intra-Company Transfer Visa: If you’re an employee of a multinational company with branches or subsidiaries in Vietnam, you might be eligible for this visa. It allows you to work in Vietnam as part of your international assignment.
  • Work Visa LD1: This is for foreigners working in Vietnam who are exempted from a work permit.
  • Work Visa LD2: This is for foreigners working in Vietnam who need a work permit.

Remember, visa requirements and procedures can vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate for the most accurate information. 

What is a Vietnam Work Permit? 

A work permit is a compulsory document, issued by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), that grants foreign nationals the legal right to work within the country. This permit serves as a legal basis, safeguarding the rights of foreign workers and ensuring compliance with labor laws. 

When foreign employees receive work permits, they gain legal recognition as employed individuals, safeguarding their rights and interests in employment relationships.

As per the Labor Code 2019, Article 151.1, the prerequisites for foreign workers in Vietnam are as follows:

  • Must be at least 18 years old and possess full civil act capacity.
  • Have the necessary technical skills, professional qualifications, or occupational experience, and their health must meet the standards set by the Minister of Health.
  • Not serving a sentence, having an unrepealed criminal record, or being under criminal prosecution according to foreign or Vietnamese law.
  • Must hold a work permit issued by a Vietnamese state management agency authorized to do so, except in cases outlined in Article 154 of the Code.

Foreign workers in Vietnam are required to adhere to these conditions and the Vietnamese Labor Code. They are protected by Vietnamese law, unless an international treaty that Vietnam is a party to states otherwise.

Requirements for Vietnam Work Permit

To apply for a work permit in Vietnam, a foreign employee must meet the following criteria:

  • The employee must have full civil act capacity as prescribed by law.
  • The employee must be in suitable health for the job requirements.
  • The employee must not have a criminal record or be undergoing criminal prosecution, in accordance with both Vietnamese and foreign law.
  • The employee must hold a position as a manager, chief of operations, expert, or technician and be able to provide documentation proving their status in accordance with Decree 152/2020/NĐ-CP – Article 3.

The specific requirements for each role are as follows:

  • For a Foreign Expert:
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent)
    • Have a minimum of 3 years of experience in a relevant field.
    • Have a practice certificate that has been officially recognized or approved.
  • For a Technical Worker:
    • At least one year of training and three years of experience in the field, or;
    • At least five years of relevant job experience.
  • For an Executive or Manager:
    • Must have a Decision for Appointment.
    • At least five years of relevant experience for the appointed position.

These conditions ensure that foreign employees are well-suited and qualified for their roles in Vietnam.

Application Process for a Vietnam Work Permit

Step 1: The application for a work permit must be initiated by your prospective employer in Vietnam. They are responsible for submitting the necessary paperwork to the local Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (DOLISA).

Step 2: You will need to provide several documents, including:

  • A completed application form for a work permit.
  • Passport and valid visa.
  • Criminal record checks from both Vietnam and your home country.
  • Health certificate from an authorized medical organization.
  • Certified copies of your degree or professional qualifications.
  • Employment contract.

Step 3: After collecting all the necessary documents, your employer will forward them to DOLISA.

Step 4: DOLISA will then take some time to review your application. The standard processing time can range from 10 to 20 business days, depending on the province and how complete the application is. During this review period, you might be asked to provide additional documents or make corrections to your application.

Step 5: Once your application has been approved, DOLISA will issue your work permit. Your employer will receive this permit on your behalf, and you’ll need it for your work visa application.

Challenges and Changes to The Work Permit

Starting January 1, 2024, Vietnam’s new work permit regulations require employers to publicly advertise job openings for at least 15 days. This policy aims to prioritize Vietnamese workers for job opportunities.

For those working in Vietnam as a foreigner, the eligibility for work permits has been simplified. Previously, the applicant’s degree needed to match their job position and experience. Now, only the applicant’s experience must be suitable for the job, increasing flexibility for both foreign workers and employers.

Documentation requirements have been clarified, including the need for the employer’s charter, establishment certificate, and appointment documents. This adjustment reduces ambiguity and provides clear guidance for applicants.

The issuance of work permits has undergone significant changes. A foreign employee working at multiple locations now requires only one work permit, provided all locations are declared in the application. The responsibility for issuing work permits has shifted from Industrial and Economic Zones Management Boards to the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (DOLISA).

These updates are part of Decree 70/2023, amending Decree 152/2020, which aim to streamline the work permit process and enhance its transparency and efficiency.

Finding Employment in Vietnam

Understanding the Job Market in Vietnam

Vietnam’s job market is a vibrant and swiftly changing landscape, mirroring the nation’s strong economic progression. 

With the fastest growth rate in Southeast Asia, consistently around 7% per year, Vietnam has emerged as a powerhouse in the manufacturing industry. This impressive growth has drawn a growing number of international businesses to shift their operations from China.

Currently, the most popular industries for expatriates in Vietnam are:

  • Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Insurance Industry
  • Education
  • Manufacturing
  • IT/Hi-tech Sector

This evolution has opened up many job opportunities across different sectors, making it a dynamic and exciting workplace.

A young and dynamic workforce characterizes the job market, eager to acquire new skills and adapt to modern technologies. With various vocational training programs and a focus on skill development, Vietnam ensures its workforce meets the demands of the evolving job landscape.

The blend of a flourishing economy and a competent labor force makes Vietnam a compelling location for those seeking employment opportunities and professionals aiming to progress in their careers.

Where to Search for Job in Vietnam

The Vietnamese job market tends to be somewhat insular, with a strong emphasis on personal relationships. Therefore, if you’re new to the country, engaging in networking events and social gatherings is essential. This strategy can expedite your job hunt significantly, as recommendations from your network can lead to swift job offers.

In addition to networking, you can take advantage of several popular job search websites in Vietnam. These include:

  • TopCV
  • Indeed
  • Vieclam24h
  • VietnamWorks
  • CVWizard

LinkedIn is another valuable resource for connecting with in-house recruiters at various companies. These individuals are responsible for filling vacancies and may be able to help you find suitable roles. Consider researching companies that operate in Vietnam and use LinkedIn to identify and connect with their recruiters. Attempting to connect with hiring managers is also an option, although they may be less accessible due to their extensive responsibilities.

By combining these strategies—utilizing both personal connections and professional platforms—you can increase your chances of securing suitable employment in Vietnam as a foreigner. Good luck with your job search!

Which Cities Are the Best for Working in Vietnam as a Foreigner

If you’re seeking employment opportunities in Vietnam, several cities are particularly notable due to their robust job markets and diverse industries. 

Here’s some of the best place to find work:

  1. Ho Chi Minh City: Often considered the economic epicenter of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City contributes substantially to the country’s GDP and industrial output. The city is renowned for its dynamic job market and is the preferred location for numerous foreign enterprises. Ho Chi Minh City hosts some of the most sought-after workplaces in Vietnam, from multinational corporations to burgeoning startups.
  2. Hanoi: As Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi is a significant hub for job seekers. It’s a city where age-old traditions intersect with modern business practices. With a variety of industries based here, from manufacturing to services, Hanoi offers a wealth of job opportunities.
  3. Da Nang: Da Nang is carving out a niche for itself in the tech industry. With a rapidly growing tech scene, it’s becoming a hotspot for IT professionals seeking exciting opportunities in software development, data analysis, and more.
  4. Can Tho: Located in the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is the region’s largest city and a major center for agriculture and industry. It’s an excellent place to look for jobs related to these sectors.
  5. Hai Phong: This coastal city is a key industrial center and port. If you’re interested in logistics, shipping, or manufacturing, Hai Phong could be the city for you.

While the best city for your job search will depend on your specific industry, skills, and personal preferences, it’s always beneficial to research each city and the job opportunities it offers before making a decision. 

Importance of Language Skills and Cultural Adaptability 

While English is a common language in the business world, having a grasp of Vietnamese can provide a significant advantage. It can foster a deeper connection with the local community and streamline daily interactions. Moreover, employers often value this ability as it can improve communication with local teams and clients.

Furthermore, the business culture in Vietnam is distinct, emphasizing respect, hierarchy, and consensus. By understanding these cultural nuances, you can forge stronger professional bonds and navigate a Vietnamese work setting more effectively.

Therefore, consider joining cultural workshops or intercultural communication training. These can be really helpful in understanding and adapting to the local culture.


Navigating the process of securing a job in Vietnam involves understanding the local legal and employment landscape, which is crucial for foreigners looking to work in this vibrant and dynamic country. First, obtaining the necessary work permits is essential. Additionally, adapting to the cultural nuances presents an opportunity to engage deeply with Vietnam’s burgeoning economic and cultural environment.

Vietnam offers a robust job market across diverse sectors, bolstered by its strategic location in Southeast Asia and its welcoming policies towards skilled international professionals. Therefore, living and working in Vietnam as a foreigner not only promises a gateway to a unique cultural experience but also offers a platform for significant professional growth and networking within a supportive expatriate community.

For those who require assistance with the legal intricacies of working in Vietnam, including obtaining work permits and navigating employment laws, consulting with a seasoned legal firm like Russin & Vecchi can provide invaluable support.

Russin & Vecchi, with extensive experience in Vietnamese legal matters and a deep understanding of the needs of foreign workers, ensures your transition into the Vietnamese workforce is as smooth and compliant as possible.

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