A Work Permit is generally required when a foreigner is working in Vietnam. Only your locally registered future employer can apply for it.
The Work Permit Process
The Work Permit procedure usually takes only two weeks—or 10 working days—if all the documents are in order. So it’s not a long wait. However, prepare yourself for a month just in case there is some delay in processing.
Before the process starts, you need to collect a bunch of documents. Collecting these documents may take more time than the procedure in Vietnam.
Work permits for foreigners are valid for a maximum of two years and can be renewed once. A new application must be made if the company wishes to continue employing the foreign worker after the fourth year.
To be eligible for a work permit, the applicant must meet the following conditions:
- Be least 18 years of age
- Be in good health to fulfill job requirements; no infectious diseases
- Have proven skills and knowledge I.E. qualifications necessary for the job, minimum 3 years documented work experience in the profession
- No criminal record in Vietnam or overseas, and not under a criminal prosecution in any country
- Passport validity must match with the intended stay, minimum the first Work Permit period (So you should have at least 2 years + 1 month validity remaining)
You need to prepare certain documents for your Work Permit already in your own country, keeping in mind that any and all documents required must be translated first into English (if not already in English), legalized in your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, only then submitting the documents to Vietnamese Embassy for translation into Vietnamese and for Vietnamese legalization.
The documents required, all in three legalized copies and translated into Vietnamese, are:
- Health check certification—this can be obtained in Vietnam too if wishing to save money in legalization of the foreign documents.
- Criminal Record Certificate not older than 180 days—this can be obtained in Vietnam for any later WP applications, the first one comes from your home country
- University Degree or higher, or a Qualification Letter* from your former foreign employer(s)
- Confirmation Letter for the working experience from the former employer(s)
- Full passport in color copy, all pages!
- 2 passport size photos
*A Qualification Letter is a document stating that a person is qualified to perform in the particular job used to apply for the Work Permit.
The employer will prepare the Work Permit application, sign and stamp it, and attach the company Investment Registration Certificate (IRC) and the Enterprise Registration Certificate (ERC).
However, Work Permit requirements vary depending on the profession. The list above is not exhaustive and additional requirements occur with teachers, doctors, pilots, etc.
Preparing Documents for Work Permit Application
Documents required by the government of Vietnam must be either legalized in the country where they are originating from or notarized in Vietnam.
Please note that notarization in Vietnam is only an option for passport copies and health certificates issued in Vietnam. All other documents must be legalized.
Step 1: Translation or Notarization
For all of your documents to be legalized, you first need to prepare translated or notarized copies.
Legalization is done by foreign ministries for cross-border use only. Notarization is done by notary offices and is for domestic use. English language documents require notarization before they can be legalized, while translated documents can be legalized directly.
Translation. In most cases, if your original documents are not in English, you need to get them translated by an authorized translator before legalization. Three signed translations are required.
Notarization. For documents not requiring translation before legalization, you need to get three notarized copies instead.
Step 2: Legalization by your country
Your notarized copies must be legalized by your home country first. This can be done through your country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office or similar.
Here are the relevant links for a few countries:
Step 3: Legalization by Vietnam
Next, the documents must be legalized by the Embassy or Consulate of Vietnam in your home country. If there is no Vietnamese Embassy in your country, you need to find out which of the nearby Vietnamese embassies serve your country.