Work Visas in Vietnam

I'm about to finish a CELTA at IH Budapest and I was hoping to go to Vietnam to teach. But I've just found out that to get a work visa I have to provide a criminal record check.

I have a conviction for drink driving in the UK (11 month ban that ended a year ago). Do you know whether that would prevent me from getting a work visa in Vietnam? Do I even need a work visa for teaching in Vietnam?

(Do any other countries need criminal record checks for work visas? China? Korea? Thailand?)

Any advice would be massively appreciated. Thanks in advance.



Reply from

Hi, Mark. First thing you should do is get over to our Teaching English in Vietnam page. You'll find everything you'll need about Vietnam Visas over there.

Remember to scroll down to read what other people have written. One girl wrote out the entire letter of the law regarding work visas for foreigners in Vietnam.

I'll see if I can save you some time first.

Yes, you do "officially" need a visa to work in Vietnam. That discussion is over at the Teaching English in Vietnam page.

If you ever do the final work permit for Vietnam then you will need to do criminal background check. You won't have a problem, Mark. The criminal checks are only for felony convictions, not driving habits.

Your country will actually not even give the information out without your consent. That is why you have to sign and agree to let the school see your criminal history.

The check is for felonies like child-molestation, murder, rape and other terrible acts. They will ask for no information from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Most countries keep violation records of each type of offense separate from each other.

The only country where you can realistically teach English for a lengthy period of time would be China. Thailand is getting stricter by the day; Korea wants the criminal record check up front now. Most schools used to ask you for documents to prove you are who you say you are and you are not a wanted man.

Many schools in Korea now will demand that a work permit be secured, along with a criminal check, before you can become an actively working teacher of English.

Countries are really trying to create laws that test the background of foreign teachers as soon as possible. You will have no problems, Mark. Just try and work out a situation where you can work while you are waiting for your embassy to translate every document into the local language.

It can take up to 6 months to get a criminal check done. As long as I can work while the process is advancing then it is a good thing. Vietnam does allow schools to employ teachers as long as the process is moving along.

Take Care, Mark.


Comments for Work Visas in Vietnam

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Jun 21, 2016
great stuff
by: Paris

This was a very interesting question for me too. Thanks for such detailed and valuable description. I like the way you write, I get to see more helpful articles from you in future. Please keep me updated.

May 23, 2016
Visas to Vietnam
by: Anon

Visitors to Vietnam must obtain a visa from one of the Vietnamese diplomatic missions or via agency on arrival unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. All visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months.

Apr 11, 2011
by: Anonymous


Thank you thank you thank you for sparing the time to get back to me again. And so quickly. You have finally put my mind to rest.

You (and your posts) are a beacon of no-nonsense clarity and can-do positivity, amidst what can often seem like a sea of dooming-glooming ESL forum bullsh*t!

Thank you.

And cheers for the RMIT pointer. Will be heading out to Vietnam in May and will head there first.



Apr 11, 2011
To Mark (Vietnam Work Visa)
by: Anonymous

Reply from

You must have told someone. There is no way anyone can get a hold of any criminal conviction unless I request the document. Even then I know that you cannot fail the criminal check unless it is a class 1 or 2 conviction! The guy who said he was refused a work permit because of a parking ticket is full of dung. Maybe he forgot to mention he murdered the patrolman?

I bet you they call you and offer you less money (In light of your conviction). That's how they think. I bet you told a Vietnamese teacher at that school. He went and told the boss. The boss now wants to use that to get you at a lower cost and shitty hours.

With your qualifications, please apply at RMIT

The problem is that you are looking for and finding problems that don't exist. You will do well in Vietnam with your qualifications. Heck, I know 3 guys working in Saigon now. They been there for over a year now and never needed a visa (Besides Travel Visas) neither of them have degrees or TEFLs so I know you will do well.

Give RMIT a try. Then stick with the universities. They want 40 year olds. Get a job and worry about the rest later.

Best wishes,


Apr 11, 2011
drink driving conviction a problem for work permit
by: Anonymous

Hey Philip,

Thank you so much for your reply. Very positive and letting me know that the work permit officials are not looking at driving convictions on the criminal record check put my mind at rest. Until...

Just after I read your reply, I had an email back from IH World- they had contacted Apollo in HMC and said that my conviction 'could be a problem' and that consequently Apollo wouldn't consider me for employment.

After your advice, my head's kinda confused by International House's email: are IH right? is it possible that they've got their facts wrong somewhere along the lines? is Apollo being hyper-cautious? or is Apollo (thinking that the conviction means I'm an immoral piss-head,and they don't want me working there) are palming me off with a lie? Or is there actually a small risk that a drink-driving conviction could cause a problem when the CRC is put in front of the work visa officials? (I've also just read a blog (admittedly from 2006, so who knows whether it's true still now) that someone got refused a work permit in Vietnam because he had had a parking ticket in the States)

I'm trying to weigh up whether to even bother with getting a work permit in any case- as a post on the site said, its probably not really necessary. But the whole criminal record check has been preying on my mind. Really sorry to bother you with this again, but just wondered if anyone you know in HMC/Hanoi might be able to clear this up for me... Fingers crossed! Thank you so much again.

(PS If there's no exact answer to the above, would my other qualifications help sway the situation if there was any doubt? I've got a BA (from Oxford University) then worked as an advertising copywriter/ communications consultant for 8 years. An MA in Creative Writing, while working as an editor for a local news paper. And I've just finished a CELTA (pass 'B') from International House Budapest. I'm white-skinned and blue-eyed. I'm 40 years-old which might count against me in some places- I expect schools for teaching younger students probably prefer girls in their mid twenties; but because I'd like to teach only adults, Universities, Corporate English/Tourism-Hospitality English... hopefully being a bit older, more experienced, might even be an advantage...?)

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