Vietnam: Employing Foreign Workers in Vietnam

Last Updated: 21 November 2011
Article by Michael K Lee and Dzung Thi Thuy Nguyen

In 2011, the number of registered foreign employees in Vietnam exceeded 74,000, which is a staggering number compared with the last three years where the numbers remained at around 55,000. As more companies employ foreign staff to work in Vietnam, management needs to be aware of some core legal issues before sending staff on employment assignments in the country.

Who Can Work in Vietnam?

Foreigners wishing to work in Vietnam must be at least 18 years old and be healthy enough to satisfy the job requirements. Only those with high technical skills or high professional qualifications regarding service and with considerable experience may be employed. As with other jurisdictions, a foreign employee is required to prove that he or she does not have any criminal record with a national security offense, and must not currently be subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in accordance with Vietnamese and foreign laws.

Grounds for Employment

The law lays out clearly different forms under which a foreign employee may work in Vietnam. Generally, a foreign expatriate may enter into Vietnam to work only under the following grounds:

  • Performance of a labor contract between the foreigner and a Vietnam-based company.
  • Internal transfer within an enterprise that has a commercial presence in Vietnam.
  • Performance of a type of contract (but not a labor contract), namely economic, commercial, financial, banking, insurance, scientific and technical, cultural, sporting, educational, or medical health contracts between a foreign entity and a Vietnam-based entity.
  • Service providers pursuant to a contract or, in other words, contractual service suppliers.
  • Service salespersons.
  • Foreigners representing a foreign nongovernmental organization that is permitted to operate in Vietnam.
  • Persons responsible for setting up a commercial presence.


Foreigners entering Vietnam must have a valid passport and visa, and must be able to state the purpose and length of their stay in the country before they can be granted entry. Visas may be applied for, and issued, at the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Police, a consulate office under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a foreign representative office, or a Vietnamese consulate overseas. If a visa applicant is already in Vietnam, he or she may apply to the Vietnamese immigration authority for a visa. The maximum visa term for a foreigner working in Vietnam is 12 months. Visas cannot be renewed once expired, but a new one can be applied for if necessary.

A foreign worker with a valid work permit may also apply for a Temporary Residence Card for a period of up to three years. The application must be submitted to the provincial Immigration Department, and may include supporting documents such as a housing lease contract and an employer's certificate of incorporation.

Work Permit

A work permit is normally required from a foreign employee working for more than three months in Vietnam. Once an employer receives two sets of application files from the potential foreign employee, the employer can apply for issuance of a work permit for that foreigner from the Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs (DOLISA). For a foreign employee working in Vietnam on the ground of performance of a labor contract between the foreigner and a Vietnam-based company, after a work permit has been issued, usually within two weeks of submitting an application file to DOLISA, a written labor contract in accordance with the labor law of Vietnam, and consistent with the work permit issued, must be signed by the foreigner and the employer. A copy of this signed contract must be forwarded by the employer to DOLISA. For foreigners working in Vietnam on other grounds, including internal transfer, no Vietnamese labor contract is required.

A work permit is not required from the following foreign employees:

  • A member or owner of a limited liability company or a member of the board of management of a shareholding company.
  • A person offering services to practice law, under a professional license issued by the Ministry of Justice.
  • A Chief Representative Officer, Chief Project Officer, or representative of a foreign nongovernmental organization for its operation in Vietnam.
  • An internal transferee of a company that engages in one of 11 service sectors as stated in Vietnam's WTO service commitments.
  • A person providing professional and technical consultancy service or conducting other missions serving for the implementation, evaluation, and supervision of Official Development Aid programs or projects according to the agreements signed between foreign parties and the Vietnamese Government.
  • A person permitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct media activities in Vietnam.
  • Other circumstances as stipulated by the Prime Minister.

Personal Income Tax

Foreign residents who stay in Vietnam for at least 183 days within 12 consecutive months are subject to personal income tax on all income earned in Vietnam and regular income earned abroad. Vietnam uses a progressive tax scale when calculating personal income tax, with the highest rate being 35%. Foreigners who stay in Vietnam for less than 183 days during a 12-month period are subject to personal income tax on regular and irregular income sourced in Vietnam during their residence in Vietnam and, instead of the progressive rate, a 20% flat rate will be applied.

Vietnam has signed double tax agreements (DTA) with many countries, in which tax exemptions may be applied in specified circumstances. As the language of each agreement differs to some extent, each country should be considered separately. The tax exemptions under the DTAs will not apply automatically, as the application for the exemption must be submitted to the Ministry of Finance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.