Vietnam Visa guidance


So, you’ve confirmed that your battered, old passport is usable. What’s next on your personal ‘To do’ list? “Getting my hands on a Vietnam Visa”, I hear you say. I think you’re spot on.

If you spend time on Facebook and the like, you can be excused for thinking the Vietnam Visa process is daunting. I have a different view. I believe it’s straightforward, and I think you’ll agree.

Vietnam Visa Guidance AVSE-TESOL

Tourist Visa – initial entry

To enter Vietnam, you need a conventional Tourist e-visa. Under the current rules, your Tourist Visa will provide coverage for 90-days, the entirety of your TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City – and ideally, the transition period to a Work Permit and related 2-year visa. Here is the link you need to apply for a Vietnam Tourist e-visa online:

The 90-day Tourist Visa costs US $25.00 for a single entry version and US $50.00 for a multiple entry version. It should take no more than three business days for your visa application to be approved. Once approved, you need to download the visa and take it to Vietnam. When you arrive in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or another designated entry point, report to the Vietnam Visa on Arrival desk and hand over the document you downloaded before you left home. The government officials at the Vietnam Visa on Arrival desk will check your paperwork. Then, assuming everything is in order, you’ll be directed to the Immigration line that’s typical of what you’ll find at an international airport anywhere in the world.

Okay, to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s do a quick fact-check:

  1. You applied for a 90-day e-Tourist Visa online (single entry or multiple entry)
  2. Your Vietnam Visa (Tourist category) was approved within three business days
  3. You printed out the visa before leaving home
  4. You carefully read the instructions related to your Vietnam Visa on Arrival – including printing the document, photos and the like
  5. You handed the visa you printed out to a Vietnamese official at the Vietnam Visa on Arrival desk
  6. The Visa on Arrival official checked your Vietnam Visa and directed you to proceed through Immigration

Brilliant! You’re now in Vietnam, and have visa coverage for 90 days – the entirety of your TESOL course and ideally the time it takes to arrange a Work Permit and long term visa.



Border run

Worst case scenario, let’s say your Work Permit and related long term visa isn’t finalised within 90-days – the period of your initial visa. Is it a deal breaker? Absolutely not. In this event, you’ll need to do what is commonly called a ‘border-run’. This essentially involves exiting the country at a border point of your choice – before your initial visa expires – and immediately reentering with a new 90-day visa. This visa should provide coverage until your Work Permit and long term visa are issued.

Doing a border run from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border to renew your Vietnam Visa is simple. There’s a border-run bus that departs from the downtown area in Ho Chi Minh City every morning; it takes a bunch of people to the border, waits while everyone renews their Vietnam Visa, and then takes everyone back to Ho Chi Minh City. The process takes about half a day; the fee is around US $115.00, including the cost of the visa. If you need to do a border run from Hanoi to renew your Vietnam Visa, it’s a bit trickier, but the friendly staff at AVSE-TESOL will walk you through the process.


Vietnam Visa Guidance AVSE-TESOL


Work Visa in Vietnam

In a technical sense, to be eligible for a Work Visa (it’s actually called a Work Permit) in Vietnam, you need the following:

  • sponsorship from an employer (a school in our line of work)
  • university or college degree
  • clean criminal record (background check) – not more than six months old
  • government-regulated TESOL Certification
  • a clean bill of health (arranged by your employer in Vietnam)

If you are a non-native English speaker, additionally, you’ll need an English proficiency test result at C1 level (or higher) – or equivalent. 


Vietnam Visa Guidance AVSE-TESOL


In this ‘post-Covid’ era, the Work Permit people in Vietnam are more rigid than ever before. It’s imperative that you have all the required documents and that they’re appropriately notarised and legalised. Close enough is not good enough. You will find plain-English information about the notarising and legalising process in a blog article via this link:

We’ve turned our minds to the key requirements for a Work Permit in Vietnam. Let’s have a look at the application process step by step.

Step One: You’ve entered an employment agreement that includes Work Permit sponsorship. Only an employer can apply for a Work Permit (for an employee) in Vietnam. It’s not something that an employee can do on their own behalf. You’ll be asked to show your key documents during the job interview – and proof that your current Vietnam Visa (post probably a Tourist e-visa) is valid. If your documents or your current Vietnam Visa are problematic, there’s a strong chance that you won’t be offered a job.  

Step Two: To secure a Work Permit for you, the employer (a school) will: 1. complete an application form stating that they’ll sponsor a Work Permit application in your name; 2. check that you have all the required documents and that they’ve been notarised and legalised; 3. confirm the validity of your current Vietnam Visa and; 4. submit the application form with your documents to the Ministry of Labour.


Vietnam Visa Guidance AVSE-TESOL


Step Three: Assuming the application form from your employer, your documents and current Vietnam Visa are all in order, you’ll receive a two-year Work Permit (and a related Temporary Resident Card – TRC), within four weeks (+/-). Among other benefits, the TRC allows multiple entries to Vietnam during the period that it’s valid. What’s the difference between a Work Visa and a TRC? One allows you to work in Vietnam for up to two years, the other allows you to stay in Vietnam for up to two years. For obvious reasons, they tend to go ‘hand-in- glove’. 

Not having a Work Permit in Vietnam doesn’t automatically mean you cannot work. It may mean the school that employs you will need to make a plan with the local authority, such is the demand for TESOL, TEFL or CELTA-qualified people to teach English the length and breadth of Vietnam. Check out the blog article on this topic via the following link:

Cost: Work Visa + two-year TRC

The cost of a two-year Work Permit and a two-year TRC in Vietnam is US $440.00 (+/-). Here is a breakdown of the cost: A) two-year Work Permit = US $230.00 (+/-), and B) two-year TRC = US $210.00 (+/-). Note, these costs are subject to variation, often without notice. If you need to know the exact cost at a particular point in time, you can always reach out to the friendly folks at AVSE-TESOL.

Will your employer reimburse you for the cost of a Work Permit and TRC? Most employers will reimburse teachers at least 50% of the total cost either immediately or after a specified period of time; for instance, after the probation period or at the end of the employment contract. Whatever agreement is reached between you and your employer about who will pay for what – and when – should be in writing.