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Top tips for working in Vietnam

The visa and permit situation in Vietnam is complex. If you are already employed, try to make sure your company handles all the permits and paperwork.

Labour laws in Vietnam will apply to you while working here and these may be subject to change at short notice. 

According to Vietnamese law, you must carry identification at all times but a photocopy of your passport is acceptable if you would rather keep the original in a safe place.

Employees in Vietnam are required to register for self-assessment when it comes to tax. Those with resident status are required to pay tax on income earned in Vietnam and abroad, whilst those without residency will only be taxed on what they earn in the country. Income tax rates start at 5% and rise to 35% depending on income.

Be sure to get receipts and evidence that your tax has been paid, and be sure that your deductibles and taxable benefits have been taken into account. It is advisable to take specialist advice, especially if you have any employees of your own, including domestic staff such as maids or drivers.  Many international accounting firms will have staff in Vietnam who can assist.

Most public holidays in the country are to celebrate important cultural values or historic events. Some vary from year to year, according to the solar and lunar calendar, whilst those based on the Gregorian calendar remain the same. It is also worth noting that the government is changing policy on public holidays to create more long weekends instead of having odd days throughout the year. Banks and offices are closed and possibly restaurants and tourist spots so it is worth checking before travelling.

Public holidays in Vietnam

  • January 1st – New Year
  • Late January to early February – Lunar New Year or Tet, the most important event of the year covering five to nine days
  • Early April – Hung King
  • April 30th – May 1st – Reunification Day and Labour Day
  • September 2nd – Independence Day

The number of vacation days allowed varies from region to region but as a guide there are nine official holidays a year including those at a national and local level.

The usual working day is from 8.00am to 5.00pm during the week with an hour for lunch and 8.00am to 11.30am on Saturdays. Government offices do not open on a Saturday morning. Employers can require employees to work no more than 48 hours per week.

With regard to language, not being able to speak Vietnamese doesn’t need to be a barrier. The modern tongue is based on one developed by a Spanish missionary, so unlike many languages in Asia it uses the Latin alphabet — this means that street signs are easier to understand. In metropolitan areas, English is commonly spoken to the point where if you try a few Vietnamese phrases you are likely to be replied to in English, particularly by the young eager to practice their skills. In more rural areas, it is advisable to have a grasp of the language as English is less commonly or even rarely spoken, but very often the locals are friendly and welcoming, regardless of your level of competency. Despite the commonalities to Latin-based languages in its written form, Vietnamese is considered a difficult tongue to speak for most Westerners. Therefore, whilst its grammar is relatively simple, pronunciation can be difficult and classes are advised if you want to reach a good, conversational level.

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