Visa Guide - Vietnam

How to get a visa to teach English in Vietnam

Unlike some countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is rather strict when it comes to work visas. Foreign nationals who wish to work in Vietnam must have professional skills, a university or college education, and proper qualifications to work in their field. In addition, they must be in good health, and be able to prove that they do not have a criminal record. If applicants meet these requirements, they can apply for a work permit and a business visa. Usually, the company or school that you work for will assist in arranging the work permit and business visa for you.

Teaching in Vietnam

To get a teaching job in Vietnam you must have a four-year university or college degree. A CELTA (Certificate of teaching English Language to speakers of other languages) or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is preferred, although not always mandatory. Many schools also require that applicants be nationals of Canada, Australia, the UK, the USA, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa.

Once you have secured a job, you will need to get a work permit and a business visa to legally work in Vietnam. If you get a teaching job before you enter the country, the school will most likely arrange a visa for you before you arrive. You can also enter the country on a tourist visa and change it to a business visa from within the country. However, you will still need a work permit to legally work here.

Entering Vietnam

Most foreign nationals need a visa and a passport that is valid for 6 months to enter Vietnam. The only foreign nationals who are exempt from the visa requirements are people from ASEAN nations, and those who hold passports from Denmark, Finland, Norway, South Korea, Japan, and Sweden. If you are not from one of these countries, you can get a visa from a Vietnamese Embassy or from a travel agent.

Vietnam does not issue visas on arrival without an approval letter, so it is important to arrange your visa before you get on the plane.

One easy way to get a visa to Vietnam is through a reputable online visa-on-arrival company. You simply fill in the online application form with your name, arrival date and passport number, pay the fee, and a scanned approval letter from the Vietnam Immigration Department will be sent to you via email. When you arrive at the airport in Vietnam, you submit this letter to the immigration officials along with your application form, passport, and stamping fee, and you will receive the visa in your passport. The visa on arrival is only valid at airports in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, so it is not valid for overland entry.

The Work Permit

In the past, many teachers came to Vietnam and worked with just a business visa. Those days are over, as Vietnam is cracking down on foreigners working in the country without a work permit. In August 2011, a decree was issued stating that all foreign workers who did not have a work permit could be expelled from the country, and banned from applying for future work visas. To get a work permit, you must have a labor contract with a company based in Vietnam. Your company will need to fill out the appropriate application forms to submit to the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (DOLISA). In addition, the employee must supply the following items:

  • A copy of your degree or professional skills certificate that has been authenticated by an official body such as your country's embassy in Vietnam.
  • A health check record from an official hospital. This must be no older than six months, and must include reports on blood work, chest x-rays, blood pressure, height, and weight.
  • A police record check from your country that shows that you do not have a criminal record and have not violated Vietnamese laws and regulations.
  • Three passport photos.
  • Your CV.

It usually takes about 15 working days for the authorities to issue a work permit, which are valid for up to three years. The validity period of your work permit will depend on the length of your labor contract. Work permits can be renewed after they expire, as long as the company or school agrees to another term of employment, and you do not have to leave the country to extend the work permit.

The Business Visa

Once you have the work permit, you can apply for a multiple-entry business visa. You may need to change your tourist visa to a business visa or extend your current business visa. This can be done through the Immigration Department, with a travel agent, or through your company from within Vietnam. The maximum validity for a multiple-entry business visa is one year, although this can be extended.

In addition, foreigners who hold a work permit can apply for a temporary residence card. To apply, you need a letter of sponsorship from your school or company and your rental contract from your apartment, house, or hotel. The temporary residence card is valid for a maximum of three years, and acts as an entry visa when leaving and returning to Vietnam.

Before you accept a teaching job in Vietnam, make sure that the company or school will sponsor you for a work permit. Although some companies will offer you employment without a work permit, this is illegal in Vietnam. If you are caught working without a visa, you may be forced to leave the country and blacklisted.


As of July 2015, 1) you cannot change from a Tourist Visa , ( DL ),
to a Temporary Residence Card ., ( TRC ) which is what you receive after a
Work Permit, you have to either leave and re enter with a the right visa, or
get the right visa ( DN or LD ), BEFORE you come to VN 2) Also 5 years
provable teaching experience is accepted in lieu of a University degree. A
Work Permit is only valid for 2 yrs now, and it still has to be renewed each