VietnamTravel Tips & InfoCommon Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

Common Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

Whether you’re coming to Vietnam for work or just a quick visit, the cultural differences may leave you startled. Familiarizing yourself with these common laws for expats can help you start your new life in Vietnam more easily with as little culture shock as possible.

Visa and Registering Yourself – Common Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

    Applying for a Vietnam Visa

    There are three ways to obtain a Vietnamese visa

    • The traditional method: Applying for the visa to the Immigration Office
    • E-visa is now an official element of Vietnam Immigration Laws, allowing visitors from 80 countries to obtain a Vietnam e-visa.
    • Vietnam visa on arrival: most major international airports offer visa services for foreign visitors.

    Registering yourself

    The Vietnamese government requires everyone to register with the local police when staying at a local residence. If you’re staying at a hotel, the chances are that the receptionist will take care of the process, but for staying at a rented apartment or house, have the landlord help you register.

    Registration is crucial for getting a criminal record from the local police when you apply for a work permit in Vietnam.

    Working Legality – Common Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

    International employees must obtain a work permit sponsored by a company in Vietnam to work legally. The entire process should take 15 – 30 days, so it is advisable to apply for a Vietnam work permit one month before starting work. Foreign citizens working without a work permit in Vietnam can be deported if detected.

    Once you’ve received the permit, you need to get a work visa and a Temporary Residence Card (TRC). The TRC acts as proof of identity and is valid for 2 – 5 years, depending on your occupation and the visa type. A TRC is also needed to open a bank account or get insurance.

    Since July 1st, 2020, foreign nationals residing in Vietnam no longer have to exit and re-enter the country to change the purpose of their visas.

    For expats staying in Vietnam for more than 183 days (6 months) within 12 months or signing a rental contract of more than 183 days, you are subject to filing for personal income taxes. An international bank in Vietnam can be a great help in dealing with your taxes.

    More on Statistics about Expats in Vietnam

    legal office laws for expats in vietnam
    Legal procedures in Vietnam is getting more and more straightforward since most of the steps can be done electronically or via a professional service

    Starting a Business – Common Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

    Vietnamese laws require at least USD 30,000 in the bank account for an expat to start a business in Vietnam. The visa type and the duration of a TRC depend on the amount of money you invest in the company.

    You can choose many types of business, whether a partnership with a local Vietnamese or a fully foreign-owned enterprise. For the registration process and subsequent tax payments, you may need consultancy from a quality lawyer or accounting service.

    Vietnamese laws require a maximum working hours of 48 per week. Keep this in mind whether you are applying for a job or hiring employees.

    Common Laws for Driving in Vietnam

    Aside from the fact that Vietnamese drivers drive on the right and cars have driver’s seats on the left, there are other notes to remember when driving in Vietnam to avoid accidents and fines.

    Valid Driving License

    A valid license is required to drive in Vietnam. In case you’ve already had a permit from your home country, have it converted to a Vietnamese version, which can be one of the following standard types:

    A1: for riding motorbikes from 50 cc – 175 cc
    A2: for riding motorbikes from 175 cc and other vehicles regulated for the A1 license
    B1: for driving cars having up to 9 seats or minivans 3.5 tons

    More on: How to Get a Vietnamese Driving License

    legal office laws for expats in vietnam
    Everyone needs a license for driving in Vietnam

    Other regulations for driving on Vietnam’s streets (that can get you pulled over if you don’t comply)

    helmets laws for expats in vietnam
    Wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle is mandatory
    • Stay on your lanes, don’t invade the car’s lane when you’re on the motorbike’s lane and vice versa
    • Always turn on the signal lights when you want to make a turn
    • Always carry your driving license and the vehicle’s registration card
    • Keep the speed limits around 40 – 60 km/h
    • No drinking and driving
    • Have no more 2 people on a bike
    street laws for expats in vietnam
    Driving on Vietnam’s streets is never a dull moment

    For getting to know the scene of Vietnamese streets, join a private motorbike tour led by local professional guides.

    Buying Property in Vietnam as Expats

    Expats are allowed to buy houses and apartments in Vietnam but not land. The leasehold period is 50 years but can be renewed. Having a Vietnamese spouse can ensure a freehold tenure. Foreign citizens are also not allowed to own exotic pets (especially those in endangerment) or export valuable antiques without a permit.

    Marrying a Vietnamese as an Expat

    After spending many years in Vietnam, you may fall in love with a lovely Vietnamese local and decide to tie the knot. Apart from the Vietnamese wedding traditions that you need to get accustomed to, the legal procedure to have your marriage recognized by Vietnamese laws is also crucial:

    • Both people have to be unmarried and have certifications to acknowledge the status (affidavit of single status and a certificate of no marriage records).
    • Applying for a marriage registration in Vietnam, a record of good mental health, a biographic information sheet, a certified passport copy, and a TRC if you’ve been living in Vietnam.
    • Gay marriage is permitted in Vietnam, but there are currently no laws to protect the legal rights of the spouses in gay marriage.

    Other Things that Cause Legal Problems

    Other than the aforementioned regulations, there are other critical common laws to know as ex-pats in Vietnam that you should take note of:

    • Possessing, selling, buying, and using drugs (including marijuana and laughing gas), pornography images, and videos are illegal.
    • Along with pornography materials, sex toys are also banned in Vietnam. You might get detained and/or customs or the authorities will confiscate the items. Therefore, calculate your risks carefully when bringing them to Vietnam.

    More on What Not to Bring to Vietnam

    • Traveling or even wandering around border areas (for example, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Tay Ninh, etc.) without permission granted by the authority can lead to a fine or detention by the local police.

    See more on Vietnam Land Border Crossing

    Ha giang river laws for expats in vietnam
    The border areas in Vietnam have stunning sceneries, but may cause you a fine for traveling without a permit
    • Pictures in restricted areas, such as military-based premises or some governmental departments, are prohibited.
    • Gambling is illegal in Vietnam, apart from government-licensed casinos.
    • Prostitution in Vietnam is highly illegal.

    Unwritten Rules of Social Conducts in Vietnam

    • Public display of affection (PDA), revealing clothes, and nudity are greatly frowned upon in the Vietnamese society
    • Discussion of politics and religions: Vietnam is a one-party government with strong political dogma while the people have deep-rooted religious beliefs, so be mindful of these topics. Sharing materials or judgments against the national political and cultural values can lead to legal problems.
    • Don’t talk and laugh loudly in religious sites or point at objects that are considered sacred.
    temples laws for expats in vietnam
    The Vietnamese have rich religious and spiritual lives

    Final Takes on Common Laws to Know as Expats in Vietnam

    Though it is undeniable that Vietnam is one of the most hospitable countries in Asia with ample opportunities for foreign nationals to build their careers, there are still particular distinctions in the rules and regulations that you need to get used to. Having said that, just pay a little bit of attention to how the locals and your international colleagues go about their daily lives and you’ll soon adapt to this wonderful country just fine.

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