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Vietnam – Self-Employment

Vietnam has been attracting expats from all over the world with its booming economy and growing business opportunities. With a population of over 97 million and a rapidly expanding middle class, the country offers a large potential customer base for entrepreneurs. In this article, we will explore the self-employment and start-up options available for expats in Vietnam.

Self-Employment for Expats in Vietnam

Expats who wish to work as self-employed individuals in Vietnam must apply for a work permit. According to Vietnamese law, all foreign nationals are required to have a work permit to work in Vietnam, including self-employment. The work permit is issued by the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) in the province or city where the expat will work.

To be eligible for a work permit, the expat must meet certain requirements. They must be at least 18 years old and have no criminal record. In addition, they must have a university degree or relevant work experience in the field they wish to work in.

Step-by-Step Guide to Registering as Self-Employed in Vietnam

  1. Obtain a work permit: To apply for a work permit, the expat must submit the necessary documents to DOLISA, including a criminal record check, health check, and university degree or relevant work experience documents. The processing time for a work permit is approximately 10-15 days.

  2. Register with the local authorities: Once the expat has obtained a work permit, they must register with the local authorities in the province or city where they will work. This involves submitting a business registration form, a copy of the work permit, and other necessary documents.

  3. Obtain a tax code: The expat must obtain a tax code from the local tax office. This is necessary for paying taxes and conducting financial transactions.

  4. Register for social insurance: Self-employed individuals in Vietnam are required to contribute to the country’s social insurance program. The expat must register with the local social insurance agency and make monthly contributions.

Digital Nomadism in Vietnam

Vietnam has become an increasingly popular destination for digital nomads, thanks to its low cost of living and reliable internet connectivity. However, digital nomads are not legally recognized in Vietnam, and it can be difficult for them to obtain the necessary permits to work and stay in the country long-term.

To legally work in Vietnam as a digital nomad, expats must apply for a work permit or business visa. The business visa allows the holder to stay in the country for up to one year and engage in business activities, including self-employment. However, the visa must be renewed every three months.

Starting a Company in Vietnam

Starting a company in Vietnam can be a complex process, but the country has been making efforts to improve its business environment and attract foreign investment. There are several business structures available, including limited liability companies, joint-stock companies, and partnerships.


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To start a company in Vietnam, expats must follow these steps:

  1. Obtain an investment registration certificate: This is required for all foreign investors who wish to invest in Vietnam. The certificate is issued by the Department of Planning and Investment in the province or city where the company will be located.

  2. Register the company: The expat must submit the necessary documents, including the investment registration certificate, to the Business Registration Division of the Department of Planning and Investment.

  3. Obtain a tax code: The company must obtain a tax code from the local tax office.

  4. Register for social insurance: The company is required to register for social insurance and make monthly contributions on behalf of its employees.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Company in Vietnam

  1. To register a company in Vietnam, the process can be a bit more complicated than registering as a self-employed individual. Here is a breakdown of the steps:

    1. Choose a legal type for the company: The first step in registering a company in Vietnam is to decide on the legal type of the company. The most common legal types are a limited liability company (LLC) or a joint-stock company (JSC).

    2. Reserve a company name: Once the legal type has been chosen, the next step is to reserve a company name. This can be done online through the National Business Registration Portal or in person at the Department of Planning and Investment.

    3. Draft company charter: The company charter is a legal document that outlines the structure and rules of the company. It is recommended to seek legal advice to draft the charter.

    4. Obtain an Investment Registration Certificate: This certificate is required for foreign investors who wish to establish a company in Vietnam. It can be obtained from the Department of Planning and Investment.

    5. Obtain a Business Registration Certificate: This certificate is required for all companies operating in Vietnam and can be obtained from the Department of Planning and Investment.

    6. Register for tax: After obtaining the Business Registration Certificate, the company must register for tax with the local tax office.

    7. Register for social insurance: The company must also register for social insurance for its employees.

    8. Open a bank account: The final step is to open a bank account for the company. This can be done at any Vietnamese bank.

    Are there any incentives or programs to encourage expats to become self-employed or set up a company in Vietnam?

    The Vietnamese government offers various incentives and programs to encourage foreign investment in the country. These include tax incentives, investment incentives, and land use incentives. For example, companies operating in certain industries may be eligible for reduced corporate income tax rates. Additionally, the government has set up special economic zones in certain areas, offering favorable investment conditions and policies.

    In terms of self-employment, there are no specific incentives or programs targeting expats. However, as mentioned earlier, the process of registering as self-employed is relatively straightforward and does not require a significant amount of capital. Additionally, Vietnam has a relatively low cost of living, which may make it an attractive location for expats looking to start their own business or work as freelancers.

    Conclusion

    Self-employment and starting a company can be a great option for expats looking to establish themselves in a new country. While the processes can vary significantly from country to country, it is generally possible for expats to register as self-employed or start a company with the right information and guidance. In many cases, governments offer various incentives and programs to encourage foreign investment and self-employment. By taking advantage of these opportunities and working with experienced professionals, expats can successfully navigate the process and establish their business in a new country.


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