Vietnam: Work Permits Waived for Some Foreign Intracompany Transfers

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By Lien Hoang

Dec. 29—Some foreign companies can now transfer certain managerial and highly-skilled employees to Vietnam without applying for work permits under the country’s World Trade Organization commitments.

More than three years after Vietnam first legislated work permit exemptions, new rules finally detail the requirements to qualify. Effective Dec. 22, Circular 41 issued by Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade says a foreign company does not need work permits for highly-skilled intracompany transfers if it meets the following three conditions:

  •  The company has a “commercial presence” in Vietnam, defined as being a joint venture or wholly foreign-invested firm or having a representative office or business cooperation contract;
  •  It operates in one of 11 sectors: business services, communications, construction, distribution, education, environment, finance, health, tourism, entertainment, and transportation; and
  •  It will transfer an employee who has worked with the company for at least 12 months.

Khuat Van Trung, an associate at Baker & McKenzie, said this “long-awaited guidance” clarifies that less paperwork, such as criminal background and health checks, is needed to apply for the exemption. “This new regulation will help reduce the administrative costs for both employers and intra-corporate transferees,” Trung said.

Circular 41 applies to managers, executives, technicians, and other experts. It falls under Decree 102, which requires businesses to apply for exemptions with their local Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs at least seven days before the employee will start work.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lien Hoang in Ho Chi Minh City at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Laura Hagmann at

For more information on Vietnamese HR law and regulation, see the Vietnam primer

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