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I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List I love to travel and experience the world but part of the fun for me is documenting those experiences through photography and writing. Follow along with me and enjoy the ride!

Work Permit Paperwork for Vietnam

USA | Friday, 19 July 2019 | Views [162]

The bureaucratic hoops have by far been the most frustrating part of the process thus far.  I had to collect, notarize, and authenticate too many documents to count and the process has been so confusing that I have oscillated between "I've got this!" and "I have no idea what I'm doing" dozens of times.  As soon as I answer one question or figure out the next step for someting, more questions pop up! Because I couldn't really find a clear and consise checklist online (I used one of the various blogs for moving to China to help me!) I figured I would make one here and hopefully relieve some of the stress for someone else.

Documents: What documents do I need for a work permit in Vietnam (teaching)?

  1. FBI background check
  2. Medical Health Certificate
  3. Bachelors/Masters Degree(s)
  4. Teaching License
  5. Passport

Obtaining the Documents:

FBI Background Check:

  1. The first step is to get your fingerprints taken.  In some states you can get them done electronically but in others you need to get the physical ones done on a fingerprint card.  I went to my local police station and they had the finger print card available for me there.  Just call ahead to make sure!  The form is called FD-258 and can be downloaded from online if the location you are going to doesn't have them available.  Get at least 2 copies just in case there is something wrong with one of them.  
  2. After you have your fingerprints, you can apply directly through the FBI using the I-783 form (also available online).  I was concerned about timing because it can take anywhere between 6-10 week so I decided to go through an official FBI Channeler called National Background Check, Inc.  While it is more expensive, the timeline was only about 1 week from the time I mailed in my application to the time I recieved the emailed results.  It cost me $60.  
  3. Be sure to use the exact same name that is listed on your passport.

Medical Health Certificate:

  1. It is my understanding that there isn't really an official form that the Vietnamese government requires so ask your HR department at your new school/job if they can send you the form they usually use. 
  2. Schedule an appointment with you primary care provider and complete all necessary tests listed on the form.  
  3. Give your PCP explicit instructions on how to fill out the form - I learned this the hardway and had to have them fill it out 3 different times until it was done correctly. 
    1. use black/blue pen so that it can be photcopied
    2. have every single line filled out.  If the results fall within normal limits they can just write "normal" on each line.
    3. the doctor must sign and date as well as the head of medical center/hospital
    4. be sure they include a medical center/hospital stamp or seal.  I was told they didn't have one so I just asked that they used a stamp that said the name of the medical center with address/phone number/etc.
    5. be sure to use the exact same name that is listed on your passport.


  1. You will need to get authenticated copies (more details on this next) of your diplomas.  If you don't know where your diploma(s) is you will need to call your school to request a duplicate copy.  
  2. If you have an oversized diploma (mine was 14x17) you will need to get a copy of it on regular letter sized paper (8.5x11).  I had this done at my local UPS store.   

Teaching License

  1. In Massachusetts you are not automatically given a physical teaching license so in order to get one you must request it.  Check details on your local department of education's website.  A physical licenses cost me $25 in MA.


  1. My passport was due to expire a few months after my arrival in Vietnam.  You need at least 3 months time from the start of your work permit but it may be easier to renew early.  When I asked my HR department they suggested I renew before I started the work permit process so that we didn't have to do additional paperwork later when my passport expired.  
  2. I applied through the state department online and mailed in my passport and application (form DS-82) at the local USPS office.  They say normal processing time is 4-6 weeks.  Mine took 4 weeks to be returned to me.

Authenticating and Legalizing the Documents:

This has been the MOST confusing and frustrating part of this process! BUT I can finally see the light at the end of this very long tunnel. 

  1. The first step is to get all documents notarized.  The notary will need to use an ink stamp that says the document is a true copy of the original document.  It will included what type of document it is, the date the copy was made, who presented the doucment (your name) and their signature as an authorized notary.  They will also create a raised seal on the document.  All copies should be on standard 8.5x11 paper so the notary had me email a photo of my oversized diploma and email it to him so he could print off a copy with the correct measurements.  Don't forget to bring all original documents with you!! You can find local notaries in many places like your local bank, many insurance agencies have a notary on site, or your work place might have one as well.  I went to my local UPS store and it cost me $5 per document. 
  2. The second step is to get all documents issued in or by your state authenticated by the the State Department of the state they were issued in.  For example, my diplomas, my teaching license and my health certificate were all issued by or in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so they need to be authentciated by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Check the website of your states Department of State for details on the specific requirements.  I had to have my documents notarized and when I went downtown to get the official authentication (called an apostille) they directed me to the correct office.  Be sure to tell thme what country the documents are needed for (Vietnam).  It cost me $6 per document and the apostilled document includes a page that says it is an authenticated copy and includes a gold seal on it and it is then stapled to the notarized copy.  DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLE because it will invalidate the apostille.  
  3. The third step is the send all documents to the US State Department for authentication.  You will need to include all documents, payment ($8 per document), the applicaiton (form DS4194), and a prepaid return envelope.  Again, I went to my local UPS store and he knew what type of envelope to use and included the tracking numbers for me. 
    1. FBI background check (does not need state authentication because it is issued by the Federal government)
    2. Medical Health Certificate (needs state authentication from the state it was issued in)
    3. Bachelors/Masters Degree(s) (needs state authentication from the state it was issued in)
    4. Teaching License (needs state authentication from the state it was issued in)
  4. Once the documents are returned to you from the US Department of State you will need to have the documents legalized by the Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy.  I used the Embassy's website to help: http://vietnamembassy-usa.org/consular/legalization.  Make sure you mail the selfaddressed envelope and send a money order.  Each document cost me $70 when I completed the porcess in Spring 2019.  The turn around was pretty quick and my legalized documents were returned to me in about 10 business days.
  5. The final step is to send the authenticated and legalized documents to the HR department.  They requested I first scan them copies to make sure they were all there and completed correctly so check in with your workplace to see what their specific process is.  After that, I mailed them off to Vietnam!

My HR department wanted my documents mailed to them 30 before my planned arrival.  I started this whole process in March and finally mailed my documents in the middle of June (which was just in the nick of time!!) so be sure to plan ahead!  


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