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Vietnam Visas for Doing Business in Vietnam: Quick Read 2024

Visas in Vietnam are codified in the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam. This law can be very nuanced and it is not unusual for interpretations of the law to differ between provincial immigration departments. That said, this Quick Read runs through the basics a foreign firm or individual would need to know in most normal circumstances including the types of visa, the length of stay, and how to apply for a visa in Vietnam.

Who handles visas in Vietnam?

Visas are handled by the Department of Immigration which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs more commonly known as MoLISA.

Types of visas in Vietnam

The law lists about 18 different types of visas for Vietnam. The correct visa for visiting Vietnam will depend on the length of stay and the purpose of the visit.

Visa-free entry

That said, citizens from 13 countries can enter Vietnam visa-free for stays up to 45 days. Those countries are Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the UK, Russia, Japan, Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Belarus.

This is detailed in Resolution 128/NQ-CP from August of 2023. Also worth noting is that the decree allows for visa-free entry regardless of purpose and or any existing visa an individual from one of these countries might have.

Citizens of ASEAN member states are also eligible for visa-free entry to Vietnam. For citizens of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Laos it is up to 30 days; citizens of the Philippines up to 21 days; and citizens of Myanmar and Brunei up to 14 days.

Also as part of its free trade agreement with Chile, its citizens can enter Vietnam and stay for up to 90 days without a visa.

For everyone else, a visa is needed.

Tourist Visas in Vietnam

Citizens of most countries can get a tourist visa for up to 90 days. This can be applied for online and takes 3 to 5 days to be approved. Once approved it comes with an invitation letter that you print and hand to the immigration officer on arrival.

Can you do business in Vietnam on a tourist visa?

Technically, you should not be doing business in Vietnam on a tourist visa. That said, tourist visas are much easier and faster to get. With this in mind, many people do with few consequences, however, it’s worth remembering that there is a risk and if found out it may result in an administrative penalty or fine.

Business Visas in Vietnam

Business persons who intend to work in Vietnam can get a business visa. This typically lasts from 90 to 365 days. It requires sponsorship from a local company and in this context, the local company would generally arrange the visa for the foreign worker.

Work visas in Vietnam

Foreign nationals looking to work in Vietnam will need a work visa or work permit. Employers are responsible for arranging work permits and visas in Vietnam, however, the employee will need to provide documentation supporting their work experience and education. They will also need to undergo a health check and provide passport photos.

A work permit is an A4 piece of paper with an employee’s photo and an official stamp with the details of the length of stay permitted. These are usually valid for up to two years and are usually kept by the employer. Note that once a work permit is issued, a foreign employee will be issued a temporary residence card. This functions like a visa when entering and exiting Vietnam.

Investor Visas in Vietnam

Foreign business persons who establish a business in Vietnam are likely to qualify for an investor visa. The length and cost of an investor visa will depend on the value of the investment. There are four categories of investor visas.

Investor visas in Vietnam 2023

CodeDescriptionLength
DT1Investments over VND 100 billion (US$4.15 million), or for investment into ‘prioritised’ sectors, professions, or areas of Vietnam.5 years
DT2Investments between VND 50 billion (US$2.07 million) and VND 100 billion (US$4.15 million), or for investment into ‘prioritised’ sectors, professions, or areas of Vietnam.5 years
DT3Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital between VND 3 billion (US$125,000) and VND 59 billion (US$2.07 million).3 years
DT4Investor visa: issued for investors with total investment capital less than VND 3 billion (US$125,000).12 months

Source: Law on Entry, Exit, Transit, and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam

Press and foreign correspondents visas in Vietnam

Foreign journalists and correspondents working in Vietnam fall under their own category of visa. The application for a temporary press visa is basically the same as a business visa. For foreign correspondents who are in the country for a prolonged period, however, for example, the bureau chief of an international news outlet, the process is similar to a work permit. 

See also: Vietnam News Media Regulations 2024: An Overview

APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)

Another option is an APEC Business Travel Card which is available to citizens of APEC member states. This gives holders three months in Vietnam at a time. This is applied for in the applicant’s home country but can take some time to process with each APEC member country required to approve the application.

How to apply for a Vietnam visa

There are overarching immigration laws in Vietnam, however, visas are usually processed by the Department of Immigration in the province in which the recipient will arrive or spend the most time.

Of note, this can often lead to disparities in the application of the law with different provinces and different departments interpreting the law differently. This can cause general confusion when applying for visas, particularly work visas, whereby one person in Ho Chi Minh City might have one experience but another person under the same circumstances might have an entirely different experience in Hanoi. The point is that Vietnam visa applicants should keep in mind that if they are receiving conflicting advice this is just par for the course doing business in Vietnam.

Online

Visitors to Vietnam can apply for tourist visas online. They are 30 to 90 days long and can be either single or multiple entries. It’s US$25 for a single-entry visa and US$50 for a multiple-entry visa. The application is pretty straightforward. It asks for personal details and a photo as well as a copy of the applicant’s passport. Tourist visas take 3 to 5 days to process. Applicants can monitor progress via the immigration office’s website but will also receive an email notification when an outcome is reached.

In-person

Theoretically, this could be done for a work permit, however, dealing with the Vietnamese authorities can be challenging at best. It involves lining up at the immigration office which can be very busy and generally closes over lunch. It can also be time-consuming, particularly if different forms or information is missing. Usually, a business will handle work visas for its employees and usually said companies will use an agent.

Using an agent

It’s common to use an agent to acquire a visa for Vietnam. The quality of the service can vary considerably but they do generally get the job done. That said, it’s worth remembering that if a visa agent promises a workaround to a common problem it may be that they are greasing the wheels so to speak. This can fall back on the visa applicants and may result in some sort of penalty, usually a fine. With this in mind, it’s important to use a reputable visa agent in Vietnam.

What’s next?

This should cover the general information a foreign firm or individual might need to know when considering what visa is right for a trip to Vietnam. That said, visa rules and regulations are prone to change and in order to keep abreast of the most accurate and up-to-date information firms should make sure to subscribe to the-shiv.

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