Depending on their nationality, expats may be granted visa-free entry into Vietnam or be eligible for a visa on arrival. Those from countries not endorsed for either of these will need to apply for a visa in advance. Those intending to live and work in the country will need a work permit and residence permit.
Like the work permit application process, getting a visa for Vietnam seems simple on the surface but can turn out to be a stressful process involving lots of paperwork and expense, and can leave expats subject to the whims of immigration officials following unclear policies.
Visit visas for Vietnam
A tourist visa is normally valid for one entry of up to 30 days, although it is also possible to apply for a 90-day multiple-entry visa for Vietnam. Citizens from visa-waivered countries are able to stay in Vietnam visa-free for between 14 days and one month, depending on the country.
Those who need a visa to enter Vietnam can apply for one at their nearest Vietnamese embassy or consulate or can make use of the electronic visa, or e-visa, system. These same channels can also be used by those eligible for a visa on arrival for the sake of convenience and efficiency at the border.
Note that there are several online companies that intentionally create the misconception that they are official entities by using .govt or .org web addresses. Expats should make use of their Vietnamese local embassy or consulate's website and only follow legitimate links rather than doing a general web search.
Residence permits for Vietnam
Those who wish to live and work in Vietnam will need to apply for a Temporary Residence Card (TRC), which is valid for two to five years. A foreigner is permitted to apply for a TRC for work, study or business purposes, among others. Close family members of TRC cardholders can apply for their own TRC.
Expats can download the relevant forms from the Vietnam Immigration Department’s website and submit their applications at an Immigration Department office in Vietnam.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
► Find out more about Work Permits for Vietnam
"As soon as you find a company to sponsor you and get you a work permit, you will be able to get a long-term visa to reside in Vietnam. Investors are also people that the country tends to attract, so there is some incentive to open a company and get a long-term residence visa for foreign investors."
Learn more about moving to Vietnam in our interview with French expat Guillaume.
Are you an expat living in Vietnam?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Vietnam. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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