Assessing travel and visa obligations in Vietnam

When traveling to Vietnam, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Vietnam, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Attend business meetings
  • Buy goods for sale outside the country
  • Tour a company facility
  • Receive classroom or technical training


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Vietnam?

Most foreign nationals, including those of the United States and the European Union member states, are required to obtain a visa to enter Vietnam as a business visitor.

Select nationalities are eligible to obtain an e-Visa prior to travel. Only nationals from select countries are eligible for visa waiver status, which allows visitors to enter and conduct business activities in Vietnam.

Those ineligible for a visa waiver or e-Visa must apply for a Business Visa from a Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling. Depending on nationality and circumstances, visas on arrival are available, provided that appropriate pre-approval has been obtained. However, it is strongly recommended that business visitors obtain an e-Visa or consular visa prior to travel. An individual assessment is required before traveling to determine your eligibility for a visa waiver, e-Visa, visa on arrival or Business Visa.

Vietnam is a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and foreign nationals in possession of a valid APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) endorsed with a “Valid for travel to VNM” are eligible to enter Vietnam on visa-waivered status.

Working in Vietnam

What types of activities require a work permit?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Vietnamese law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Vietnam, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Hands-on technical work
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Consulting

In limited circumstances, foreign nationals may engage in certain short-term professional activities without obtaining work authorization, although strict preconditions must be met. An individual assessment is recommended to determine whether a work authorization exemption is applicable.


If I am traveling to Vietnam for work, what type of work permit do I need?

The requirements for a work permit depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in Vietnam. The most common Vietnamese work permits are:

  • Work Permit – Local Hire (direct-hire work permit)
  • Work Permit – Assignment (assignee work permit)


Is it possible to be exempted from work authorization requirements?

Work permit exemption certificates are available in Vietnam for certain groups and professions, including foreign journalists, students and various others. In these cases, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for a work permit exemption should be obtained prior to traveling.

What else should I know?

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.