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Visa Know How: Vietnam Work Visa & Business Permit

International TEFL Academy (ITA) graduate Abby Moore walks you through her experience getting a work visa for teaching English in Vietnam.

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Visas, Visas, Visas   — The topic no one enjoys talking about yet the topic everyone needs to know a lot about. It's a foreign topic to most, no matter how experienced of a traveler you are. Our alumni and graduates have been through the visa process firsthand and were tasked with walking us through the steps they took for their visa.

Here's Abby on her visa experience for teaching English in Vietnam.

Do You Need a Visa to Teach in Vietnam?

You will need a work visa to teach English in Vietnam. You are able to enter Vietnam on a tourist visa which is typically valid between 15-30 days (but if needed, this can be extended upon arrival in Vietnam). Once you have secured a teaching job in Vietnam and signed a contract with a school, your employer will help you convert your tourist visa into a work visa/permit.

If you are able to secure a job in advance of being in Vietnam, you can also process your visa in your home country.

Read more: Requirements to teach English in Vietnam

What Kind of Visa Can I Apply For?

Currently, I have a work permit and business visa in Vietnam. There are 3 main types of visa you can apply for:

  • Tourist Visa - DL
  • Business Visa - DN
  • Work Permit - LD

How Long is the Visa Valid for?

The visa duration is one year (from the signing of your teaching contract).

Work Visa for Vietnam: Necessary Documents

You will need one of the following documents:

  • Original Diploma
  • Original TEFL Certificate
  • Federal FBI Background check
  • Local Health check
  • Permit Stay (local residence check, filled out by your landlord and approved by the local police)
  • Local Police check (filled out & confirmed by Ministry of Police in Vietnam)
  • Several passport photos

Teach English in Vietnam Visa

How to Apply for a Visa to Teach English in Vietnam

Option 1: My Personal Experience

This option is based on my personal experience.

Before Going To Vietnam

  • Get your documents (original Diploma, and original TEFL) notarized (by a local notary), and then apostilled by the Secretary of State in your current location. (I have recently confirmed that the Vietnamese government DOES require your originals).

  • Obtain a federal background check (also known as Identity History Summary). In order to get it you must include a copy of your fingerprints.

    • Please note: If you decide to do your background without going through a channeler, it can take up to about three months for it to be returned to you (totally fine if you have the time, and my personal preference).

    • Payment: Currently the fee is $18, not including your fingerprints, and postage (refer to site above to ensure that fees have not changed). 

    • Read more:
  • When you receive your background check send it off again to get authenticated by the Department of State at the following address:

U.S. Department of State Office of Authentication
44132 Mercure Circle
PO Box 1206
Sterling, VA 20166

*Note: You cannot use Fedex Ground for return.

*For updated prices & questions, call 202-485-8000.

Vietnam TEFL Visa

Once You Arrive in Vietnam

  • Get your documents legalized to work in Vietnam at the U.S. Embassy (or Embassy of your citizenship). This step can also be done before leaving by mailing your documents to the Vietnamese Embassy in your country of origin. This process is more time-consuming and less cost-effective, however.

  • Make sure the name on all of your documents matches the name on your passport exactly - if not you will have to get an affidavit proving you are the same person. This can be done at your Embassy (for example - my diploma says Abigail C. Moore, instead of Abigail Christine Moore like my passport).
Company-Supported Additional Visa Documents

The following are documents that your company should guide you through.

  • Local Police Check: Completed by your company, but you will join them at the Ministry of Police.

  • Permit Stay/Residence Check: Completed by your landlord and your company. This form is free but some landlords won't be eager to help you. You can either give them a bribe, or your company might request you move. Your company can speak to your landlord if you are having difficulties completing this form.

  • Health Check: Your company will set this up for you. Currently, you need to bring two passport photos with you. Usually you will pay $25 up front and your company will reimburse you.

Payment & Fees

My current company pays up to $150 towards getting documents legalized and affidavits for visas for full-time teachers only. 

  • During the interview process ask if the company will support you.
  • Local police check and health check - paid for by the company.
  • Acquiring documents, notarizing them, and apostilling them in the States will not be reimbursed by your company. (*I am not sure if they will if you are employed by them before you depart - more research here)
Additional Information

You need to enter the country on a business visa in order for it to be converted to a work permit. The only way to do this is to be employed by a company and they will write you a visa letter.

  • If you are looking for a job on the ground you can enter on a tourist visa, once you find a job and accept, do a visa run and re-enter on a new business visa (all are visas on arrival, very simple).
  • Full-time teachers: Your business visa (3-month visa) costs will be reimbursed by your company ($25).
  • If you are a part-time teacher, the visa cost will not be reimbursed.
  • Visa duration is one year (from the signing of your contract)
  • Visa renewal is very easy, just update your Permit Stay (if you have moved). If you haven’t moved you don’t need to fill this out.
  • Acquiring your Work Permit can take anywhere from 2-6 months depending on how diligent you are in completing all the necessary documents.
  • No restrictions that I know of. Work permits should all be multiple entry.

Option 2: Apply for a Work Visa While in Vietnam

I have recently been informed that as long as you bring all of your original documents with you to Vietnam, you can do everything necessary for a work permit in Vietnam. This information was provided by my current company (ILA Vietnam).

Note: Government policies in Vietnam change quite frequently. Make sure to check before you go.

Price Breakdown

→ Notarizing two documents: $10-$20 per document
→ Apostilling (Diploma & TEFL Certificate): $20 per document
→ Federal Background Check: $18
          • Fingerprints (black ink): $9 per copy (recommend getting two copies)
          • Postal Fees: Depends on location
          • Federal Background Check apostilled by Dept. of State: $8 per doc

* All other documentation fees mentioned above should be covered by your
   company. Please confirm with them.

** All of these fees are subject to change.

Can I work in Vietnam on a Tourist Visa?

You can get a one-month, three-month, or one-year visa on arrival in Vietnam. Many people decide not to go the work permit route and work more under the table. Also, smaller companies might not require you to have a work permit.

This is up to you - decide what kind of work environment you want. There are many options for visa runs.


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