4 March 2021

Work Permit Exemptions and Renewal for Foreign Employers in Vietnam

On 30 December 2020, the Government has promulgated Decree 152/2020/ND-CP (“Decree 152”) regulating on foreign workers and the recruitment and management of Vietnamese workers working for foreign employers. Some of most salient provisions of Decree 152 is as follows:

Work permit exemption

Compared to repealed regulations, Decree 152 added several new cases in which foreign employers are exempted from obtaining a work permit:

  • being an owner or a capital contributor of a limited liability company with portion of capital contribution of VND3 billion or more;
  • being the Chairman of the Board of Directors or a member of the Board of Directors of a joint stock company with a portion of capital contribution of VND3 billion or more;
  • foreigners coming to Vietnam to set up a commercial presence of a foreign entity in Vietnam;
  • being confirmed by Ministry of Education and Training to enter Vietnam to teach and research.

Criteria for determining an expert

Under Decree 152, a “foreign expert” has been clarified and defined in a stricter manner. Foreign agency, organisation and enterprise are no longer allowed to determine/certify “who would be deemed as a foreign expert”. A foreign expert is required to satisfy all conditions including: (i) years of experience and (ii) qualification (which includes relevant certification, decree…). For clarification, an expert is required to:

  • obtains at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and at least 3 years’ experience in his/her training field which corresponds with the job position/job assignment that he/she will be appointed in Vietnam;
  • obtains at least 5 years’ experience and a practicing certificate which corresponds with the job position that he/she will be appointed in Vietnam; or
  • falls under a special case subject to decision of the Prime Minister according to a request of the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.

Term of work permit/work permit exemption certificate

Decree 152 clarifies that the term of work permit or work permit exemption certificate is no more than two years and foreign workers are only permitted to renew once for a further two-year term. Hence, this implies that foreign workers are required to apply for a fresh work permit/work permit exemption in order to continue to work in Vietnam.


If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact Hoang Tran of ZICO Law Vietnam.

This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.


On 1 December 2022, KPMG and ZICO Law entered into an agreement under which a number of law firms and teams from the ZICO Law network have joined the KPMG network of firms.

The deal will see more than 275 lawyers join over 2,900 legal professionals in the KPMG global organization, creating a significant legal footprint across Asia. It will offer legal services and solutions, a globally connected legal services platform, and specialists who work with leading technology providers to modernize legal functions across organizations. The strategic combination increases the total number of legal professionals in the KPMG network to over 3,750 across 84 jurisdictions. You may read the press release here.

For more information and to see how we can assist you in your desired jurisdiction, please follow the links below: