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How to apply work-permit in Vietnam?
Labour Legal

How to apply work-permit in Vietnam?


Guiding the granting of work permits for expatriate in Vietnam, the most useful and up-to-date information that provided by Vietsourcing HR practical study.

Vietnam is becoming an ideal destination for foreign workers due to its diverse working environment, competitive salary, special opportunities and benefits. In addition, international and regional agreements such as WTO, TPP, ASEAN ... also contribute to promote the exchange of personnel and labor between countries and Vietnam.

Vietsourcing HR would like to share with you the most useful and up-to-date information about the process of obtaining a work permit in Vietnam.

Employment of expatriate in Vietnam, what are the conditions?

Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP dated February 3, 2016 sets out a number of conditions that an expatriate must meet in order to be issued a work permit. In particular:

  • An expatriate must have full capacity of civil acts;
  • His health must be appropriate for the required working conditions;
  • An expatriate must hold the position of manager, executive director, expert or technician;
  • The expatriate must not: (i) have a criminal record that involve a national security offense or (ii) be subject to criminal prosecution or be under criminal sentence under Vietnamese or foreign law;
  • The employer must receive approval to recruit an expatriate.

Application to obtain a work permit in Vietnam

The entity for which an expatriate will work, not the expatriate himself, is responsible for applying for a work permit. The application for a work permit includes the following documents:

  1. A request to issue a work permit (made on a standard form);
  2. A health certificate issued in a foreign country or in Vietnam, and issued no more than 12 months prior to the date the application is filed;
  3. A judicial record issued by an authority (ie, a judicial or law enforcement agency) in the country in which the expatriate resides, showing whether he has a criminal record.  If the expatriate is a resident of Vietnam, then only a judicial record issued in Vietnam is required. (A judicial record must have been issued within six months prior to the date of filing the application).
  4. Documents to certify that the expatriate is a manager, executive director, expert, or technician.
  5. Letter of approval on employment of expatriate issued to the employer by the provincial People’s Committee;
  6. Copy of a valid passport (or valid document in place of a passport);
  7. Two passport photos [4cm x 6cm] taken within six months prior to the filing date.

Notes:  A document issued in a foreign country must be legalized. Legalization requires the following steps:

  • A photocopy of a document must first be certified as a “true copy” by the licensing authority or a notary public in the place where it was issued (“Country of Origin”);
  • Second, the certified copy must be endorsed by the State Department or Foreign Affairs Office of the Country of Origin (if required by the law of the Country of Origin); and
  • Finally, the endorsed document must be either: (i) legalized by the Vietnamese Embassy/Consulate in the Country of Origin, or (ii) authenticated by the Embassy/Consulate of the Country of Origin in Vietnam and then legalized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A notarized Vietnamese translation of a legalized document is also required. 


Where to apply for expatriate work permit in Vietnam

Along with the standard documents listed above, depending on the category, the application must be submitted to the following government bodies:

  • Enterprises and Non- Government Organization, International organization (not in IZ) shall submit the applications to the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) at the provincial of the Enterprises/ Organizations registered business license.
  • Enterprises belonging to an IZ shall submit the applications to the Industrial Zone Authority but should be under the province/city of the Enterprises/ Organizations registered business license.

Enterprises can also submit the entire online application via the Public Service portal:


Time frame

The application must be filed with the DOLISA at least 15 working days prior to the date the expatriate is scheduled to start working in Vietnam. An employer or Vietnamese counterparty will normally receive the work permit from the DOLISA within 10 working days from the date of filing and must then deliver it to the expatriate. Filing timelines should take into account that issuance of a work permit can be delayed.


Consequences of working in Vietnam without a work permit

Except in the case of exemptions, a work permit is mandatory. An expatriate who works in Vietnam without a work permit may be deported within 15 working days from discovery. The employer’s operation may be suspended for three months, and a maximum penalty of VND 75 million (approximate US$ 3,300) may be applied to the employer.


Enterprises should send an explanation report on the need to use foreign workers to the Ministry of Labor - Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) or the Chairman of the provincial People's Committee at least 30 days in advance and can submit online via the portal


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