Vietnam work visa vs. Vietnam work permit – which one do you need

Nguyen Anh Thu06/11/2020

You are planning to stay and work in Vietnam for the long term but don’t clearly know what kind of legitimate documents you are required to have? Vietnam work visa vs. Vietnam work permit, which one do you need? How to apply for a Vietnam work visa and Vietnam work permit? This post is especially for you, as it gives you details about:

  • Comparison between Vietnam work visa and work permit, so as to define which one you need for your stay and working in the country;
  • Overview and how to get a work permit in Vietnam; and
  • Finally, an overview and how to get a work visa for Vietnam.

Vietnam work visa vs. Vietnam work permit

People normally get wrong understandings about these two concepts, so, just have a closer look at our comparison below to deeply distinguish those two terms. 

TypesVietnam work visaVietnam work permit
DefinitionA visa stamp (categorized as LĐ previously and then LĐ1 or LĐ2 visa since July 1, 2010) on an original passport issued by Vietnam Immigration Department or Vietnam Embassy/ Consulate in the applicant’s local country, allowing its holder to enter Vietnam to take up employment.An official certificate issued by the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Society, allowing its holders to work in Vietnam legally.
Ways to applyThe foreigners can apply with the Vietnam Embassy/ Consulate or via a Vietnam visa service centerThe foreigners cannot apply directly with the Authority Office themselves but via their employers or a service center based in Vietnam
OthersA working visa for Vietnam can only be applied when foreigners hold valid Vietnam work permitHolders of a Vietnam work permit are eligible for applying for a Temporary Residence Card or Vietnam work visa

It can be seen that foreigners can’t apply for a Vietnam work visa without a Vietnam work permit (or work permit exemption certificate, in some cases), while the latter is available when applicants are sponsored by their employers only. Therefore, the Vietnam work permit is truly the most important document for those who want to work here in the country.

You can now find full details about those two types of documents.

A. Vietnam work permit

Who are eligible for Vietnam work permit?

There is a fact that not all foreigners are required to have a Vietnam work permit, please firstly check if you are eligible for Vietnam work permit exemption. 

If you are not exempted from Vietnam work permit, follow these guides to get step by step closer to your goal – working in Vietnam. 

To apply for a legitimate Vietnam work permit, foreigners are asked to meet these standard requirements:

  • Over 18 years old to meet current Vietnam labor law;
  • In a good health condition that satisfies demands and requirements of the certain job;
  • No criminal record in their local country or a national security offense, not currently facing criminal prosecution, or not serving a criminal sentence by the Vietnamese and foreign policemen during the assignment;
  • Own high degree of specialized knowledge, technology, qualification, and experience that Vietnamese labor resources are currently unable to manage.

How to get a work permit in Vietnam?

As it is mentioned above, to apply for a work permit in Vietnam, foreigners will need to have their employers sponsored. 

To get a work permit, the employer in Vietnam needs to go through 02 steps as follows:

Step 1: Get approval for employing foreigners to work by the competent authority (Provincial People’s Committee,…)

This step should be activated at least 30 days before the expected date when the foreigners start their work at the company.

In this step, the employer will need to prepare the following documents and submit them to the Provincial People’s Committee or Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs or Management Board of Industrial Park, etc. as the case may be:

  • Registration form for demand on using foreign workers (Form No. 01 under the Circular No. 18/2018/TT-BLĐTBXH)
  • Certified copy of business registration.
  • Letter of attorney in case the submitter is not the company’s legal representative.

Step 2: Apply for Vietnam work permit at the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs in the province where the foreigner are working:

This step should be started at least 12 days before the expected date when the foreigners start their work at the company.

In this step, the employer and the foreigner(s) will need to prepare the following documents:

  • Request form for Vietnam work permit (Form No. 7 issued together with the Circular No. 40/2016/TT-BLDTBXH);
  • Certificate of Health check;
  • Criminal records (issued within 180 days). For those who have stayed more than 6 months in Vietnam, please provide both Vietnamese criminal record & the criminal record from local country;
  • Certified copy of highest certificate/degree;
  • Working experience confirmation document from former employers;
  • Passport and valid visa (Copy);
  • Approval certificate which allows the employer to use foreign workers from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs or the People’s Committee where the employer resides. This certificate should be applied for at least 20 days before the expected date of recruitment of foreign workers by the employer;
  • Certified copy of the Employer’s Business Registration Certificate;
  • 02 4*6cm photos;
  • Employment contract (issued by employers in Vietnam);

For full step-by-step how to get a work permit in Vietnam, you can follow the instruction here.

For those who see these procedures are so complicated, or don’t have enough time to process, or don’t have enough required documents, please refer to a service center like so they can get it done for you!

B. Vietnam work visa

Once the Vietnam work permit is ready, foreigners can apply for a Vietnam work visa. Vietnam work visa (or Vietnam LĐ1 or LĐ2 visa) can be valid for 2 years at maximum. Unlike Vietnam work permit – a certificate, Vietnam work visa is like other Vietnam visa stamps on your original passport with LĐ sign (Vietnam tourist visa is DL while Vietnam business visa is DN2, DN2, etc.)

What documents are required to get a Vietnam work visa?

Please remember that all documents applying for a Vietnam work visa will be prepared by the Vietnam-based company/ organization, so get them well informed.

  • Legitimate license of the Vietnam-based company/office where the foreigner is working for (Business registration certificate, or investment license, or operation license of a branch or representative office, etc.);
  • Certificate of seal specimen or Statement of Seal Use by the Company
  • Form NA16 – Registration form for the seal and signature of the legal representative of the enterprise operating in Vietnam;
  • Form NA5 – Application for visa, visa extension, extension of stay for foreigners in Vietnam. You can download it here.
  • 01 3*4cm photo
  • Vietnam Work permit or Certificate of Vietnam work permit exemption.
  • Valid applicant’s passport (copy)

How to apply for a Vietnam work visa?

Normally the Vietnam company where the foreigner is working will have to submit documents to the Vietnam Immigration Department or the Immigration Office under the Department of Public Security in the city or province where its head office is based; however people will choose to use a visa agent for their convenience.

By submitting through a service center, all they need is to wait (normally 5 working days) until their application is approved without coming back and forth or adding more documents upon the requirements of the authority. 

In case you are after an agent to make your process to get a work permit or working visa for Vietnam, you can contact Since 2007, they have established a great reputation in those aspects. You absolutely contact them at any time via:

  • +84.946.583.583 (WhatsApp, Viber, Zalo available)
  • 23rd Floor, Vinaconex 9 Tower, Pham Hung road, Me Tri, Tu Liem, Hanoi, Vietnam, Hanoi
  • R702, Landmark 2 Tower, Vinhomes Central Park, Binh Thanh, HCMC