Corruption, Bribes and Your Vietnamese Work Permit

by Brian
(Nha Trang )

The guy who wroted the above failed to mention that a little "lobby money" goes a long way.

Bribe the corrupt cops with $100 no problem with police check, pay the hospital $100 on top of the medical fee no problems waiting in line, stick 50 bucks in with your application to the labour depatment goes straight to the top of the pile.

I had a three day window in which to get my work permit (after a 4 month slog) and new visa without having to pay rip off tour companies 80 dollars for a crappy 3 month no re-entry tourist visa.

When I finally submitted all my rubber stamped red docs as a failsafe i was told by my good Vietnamese friends put a 2m dong ($100) bribe along with them and tell them you need it all done and dusted in 3 days and as if by magic there it was the fabled work permit and working visa for 3 years, thing is it wasn't by magic just good old fashion bribes in a corrupt system.

Fact is in vietman the govt workeers are paid so low that bribe taking is a way of life and the only way to make a living.

So I reckon i spent around a $1000 all in getting my Vietnam Work Permit but worth it.

As the guy said its prestigious, better jobs, front of the que, more salary as the Vietnames realize that you have taken on there mind boggling system and persivered.


Reply from

Corruption and Bribes can help Your Vietnamese Work Permit along and might be helpful advice to some.

I usually avoid the subject. Corruption and Bribes to Government officials isn't something I wanted to write about or condone.

The topic deserves attention, though.

You Can Only Grease The Vietnamese Wheel

The problem is that the bribes you pay can only hurry along the Vietnamese Government processes.

Bribes will have no effect on how quickly you acquire your home country police background check, the Red Stamp of Authenticity from your Home Embassy in Vietnam and the translation of the documents into Vietnamese.

I think you are talking about the affect bribes can have on Vietnamese Government Officials because they have no effect on the 'Home Side' of the Work Permit Process.

You Paid Too Much

For that I think you overpaid. No, you highly overpaid.

You said, "Pay The Hospital $100 on Top of The Medical Fee No Problems Waiting in Line".

That is the largest amount anyone has ever paid, as far as I know. I do not advise people to pay $100USD just to jump the lines for their health check.

It used to cost 50,000 Dong.

All you have done here is drive up everyone's 'Tea Money' costs.

Even the Police were probably stunned by the amount you paid them. You wouldn't be a Vietnamese police officer, would you?

Trying to drive up our costs? (A Joke).

Is It Worth $600USD Or More In Bribes To Get Your Vietnam Work Permit?

The fact is that many good teachers would rather leave Vietnam than pay $1000USD (Total) just to stay out of long line ups and to soak up the joy of working in Vietnam.

The teachers I know have made it clear that they will leave Vietnam when a work Permit becomes absolutely Mandatory. (It's actually mandatory now but there are many loopholes and well-known ways to stall the process.)

Many will leave when those loop-holes have closed. I don't think the Government will ever close those loop-holes because it makes no sense to force good teachers to pay $1,000USD just for the privilege of working in Vietnam.

Most people just want to get in the country and make some fast money so that they can continue to travel. Unfortunately, it has become rumor that;

"You MUST have a Work Permit before you can work and it will cost you $1000USD to get it.

This is just not true. You will need a work Permit eventually and it will make finding work easier but you don't need it to start working.

In fact, if you have any charisma and the students love you you'll probably get more hours than a teacher with a work Permit who puts his class to sleep.

The best schools will hire you and then do much of the paperwork and pay all (Or some) of the fees associated with getting your Vietnamese work Permit.

Please don't feel I am referring to you Brian. I think you were just trying to be helpful with advice from your own experience. It is an important topic for many and I'm sure they'll be thankful to hear from you.

You tell me I should advise readers to slip $100USD bills in with all their documents. The problem is that I think you overpaid for a service that wasn't a big hassle.

Maybe you were desperate and needed that Permit in a short 3 days. That is the reason for the high cost. I just don't see why anyone would need their Permit in 3 days.

There will always be work in Vietnam for Non-Permit holders. The worst they can do is cancel your visa so that you have to leave the country to get a new one.

Is it worth $1000USD to you? I guess that's up to the reader.

Some people will do better not to go down that road. It leads to the black-market and that only puts you at risk.

What Risk?

Just be careful. The moment you begin dealing in that world, you begin dealing with those people.

'Tea Money' is a powerful tool but it can also come back to bite you in the bum. Once you have shown a willingness to pay Bribes (Tea Money) a sort of Target is painted on your forehead.

The police know who pays and who refuses.

They once came through my neighborhood in Go Vap District (Between Central Saigon and Cu Chi). They knocked on every door and demanded bribes. They were drunk. My neighbor paid $20USD because he had his Girlfriend living with him. (It is illegal in Vietnam for unmarried couples to live together).

He and his wife were English so the law should not have applied. He just wanted the problem to go away so he paid.

I was in the same situation with my Canadian Girlfriend. I said no and would not even open my front gate. It was 4AM by the time he gave up, yelling and screaming as he walked off into the distance.

Every night after, new faces in Police uniforms showed up in my area. They went straight for the guy who had paid the night before. He eventually moved but they never bothered me. Like a thief that knows you always lock your door, he also knows if your neighbor does not.

$1000USD is a lot of money to spend on the advice of any Vietnamese "Friend". Vietnamese "friends" know exactly what the term "middle-man" means and what he is to be paid.

The best advice I ever got while in Vietnam was; "Set the price before you show any interest in purchasing anything or any service."

Ask Here For Help

It almost looks like you are trying to drive up the standard 'Tea Money Ratio' for us all, Brian.

Just remember;

If you pay the Standard $1USD tip to a belly dancer, she will dance for you.

But, only until your friend hands her a $5USD tip.

As soon as you pay a bribe, the police are working on a way to make you pay another.

Don't start sliding $100USD bills into every form you submit on the advice of any "Friend".

A real Vietnamese friend would offer to come with you to apply for your Work Permit because most Government workers can't speak English and all forms are written in Vietnamese.

Ask here for advice, anytime. If I can't help then I'll ask around. I have been in Vietnam more than 4 years and still have very few friends that I trust that much.

I will be in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia on the 22nd of November, 2011 and back in Vietnam a couple of days after.


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Apr 02, 2013
Bribe Tactics for Vietnam Labour Department
by: Anonymous

I had all my documents done by my company and notarized and then translated to Vietnamese and proper paperwork done.

But labor dept. noticed that I worked in Vietnam for 4 months and my company didn't noticed them. So they got refused my application.

what should i do, i can pay bribe..because i know it can be the solution. but probably my company doesnt wants to pay bribe.. and also i am hesitate to ask this to company. but is it possible now a days to pay bribe and get work permit done properly?

FYI, I have all paperwork done

police clearance certificate, health check, degree and etc.

2. If bribe is possible, how much it should be enough??


Reply from

Are you an English teacher? English is not your native tongue so it would help if I had more details. But the culprit behind this is right under your nose.

Either your employer does not want to make a work Permit application for you or they want you to think that a bribe is necessary. They will keep that money for themselves.

This may sound odd because you claim they have already done most of the required documents.

But their excuse is fishy and this is a common scam. They may say they didn't report your work for 4 months but they are not required to do so as long as they were working towards getting your permit. They have a 6 month window on whether to decide on nominating you for a work permit.

All I can tell you is that your company is behind this refusal and is blaming it on the Labour Department. It is clear that your company is lying to you.

Change your job to a new employer.


P.S. it would take a $50USD bribe to get the labour board to look past much worse offenses than yours (Assuming your offense even exists, which it does not).

My guess is that you need to offer your boss a minimum of $200USD. Offer to buy a gift for his wife. It needs to be a gold necklace with weight equal to the $200USD mark.

Paying for a job is widespread in Vietnam now. Especially for worker from the Philippines. It has happened to me.

Nov 12, 2011
Is the Work Permit Worth the Bribe?
by: Anonymous

I was wondering, if you pay $100USD for each service and $1000USD for the work visa, how much is your salary or income?

I was wondering if these other expenses are really worth the conclusion....


Reply from

I think he mentioned that his TOTAL cost for the visa, including all bribes, was $1000USD.

He was also asking that they get his work permit to him in 3 days. That is a big request as it usually takes around 3 months time. He bribed himself to the head of every line-up but paid a high price.

I think everyone here is worried about something that is really just for people that want to stay long term and are employed by schools that are too cheap to fulfill their obligations and get the Vietnam Work permit for you.

If you have a degree, a TEFL of some kind and no Criminal Record that includes at least one major Felony, the school will usually get the work permit for you.

I don't think it is worth the hassle unless you plan on settling in Vietnam. But there is no doubt that a work Permit would ensure that you get the highest paying jobs over those that don't have a work permit.

That usually equates to about 25% more salary but can be as much as 50%.

You'll find work much easier, you'll have a bargaining chip that would call for higher pay, benefits (Medical, Dental etc.), recognition and the right to apply at the very best schools.

Your resume will garnish more serious consideration and you'll be taken more seriously as a professional English teacher. Oh, and you'll never find yourself on any deportation order.

Then there are people working in Vietnam that make more money than work permit holders yet don't hold a work permit themselves.

In Vietnam, the bottom line is you'll excel according to how long you've been teaching Vietnamese students, the reputation you've built (don't burn any bridges) and how popular you are the with students.


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