Guidance

Living in Vietnam

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Vietnam, including advice on entry requirements, health, education, driving regulations and more.

Overview

This guide sets out essential information for British nationals moving to, or living in Vietnam, including where to find advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements, finance, and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what the Embassy and Consulate-General can and cannot do for British nationals.

Our publication Support for British nationals abroad: A guide sets out the steps that British nationals can take to stay safe abroad, and provides details on what help the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can provide if you do get into difficulty.

Before you go

See our travel advice for Vietnam for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety, and emergencies. See moving or retiring abroad.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We are not advising permanent residents overseas to return to the UK but would remind them that they need to be ready to comply with the local authorities.

There are no plans for British citizens living in Vietnam to receive a vaccine from the UK.

You should follow the advice of the Vietnamese government and your local authority. You can also read Vietnam travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on vaccines abroad, see our COVID-19 travel guidance.

British nationals living in Vietnam should consider their own personal circumstances and take into account all of the information available, when making a decision on whether or not to return to the UK. You should consider the following factors:

  • Quarantine: Quarantine lasts a minimum of 14 days and could be longer if you test positive at any point. If you test positive, you will be treated in a Vietnamese hospital. Following discharge, you will be expected to undertake a period of self-isolation. Check the Quarantine section of our Travel Advice.

  • Financial support: Do you have sufficient funds to support yourself without going back to the UK for an undetermined number of months?

  • Health insurance: The costs of quarantine, including testing, in both government centres and designated hotels, must be paid by those arriving or their employers and for any coronavirus hospital treatment costs. Do you have adequate medical insurance coverage? Will it cover you for treatment related to coronavirus? Taking your own personal health condition into account, are you confident in receiving the necessary medical support you need in Vietnam? Check the Healthcare and medication section below for more information.

  • Legal & Employment support: Do you understand the kind of support available to you in the case of unemployment or economic hardship due to coronavirus? Will this support be sufficient for you to support yourself for an undetermined number of months? Check the Employment section below for more information.

  • Visa, Work permit, and Residence card: People holding valid Work permit and Residence card are able to apply for and may be granted an extension depending on individual circumstances. Those with valid Work permits should work with their employer to have an application submitted and approved. The Vietnamese government has assured us that people who were unable to extend their Visa/Work permit during the period of partial lockdown will not be penalised and can apply without penalty after the lockdown period ends.

The Embassy and Consulate-General will not be able to assist with individual Visitor visa extensions should you wish to stay in Vietnam, nor sponsor individual applications or sign NA5 forms (which has the same effect) as this involves legal and financial obligations. For those with a valid Work permit or Resident card, you can extend these at Immigration office with the assistance and support of your family or employer.

What you should do

Stay up to date

You should:

Entry and residency requirements

Please visit the local Immigration Department website for further information and contact details of your nearest office if you wish to settle, visit, or work in Vietnam. You may find the Vietnamese language page has more up-to-date information than the English version. Due to the high volume of enquiries, it may take some time to reach the relevant authorities.

Visitor visas are issued to foreigners for a limited duration and on the basis that visitors must leave on or before the date of expiry. Those who come to Vietnam to work are required to apply for a Work permit. You should check the visa validity and conditions carefully. Overstaying your Visitor visa is a serious matter and you may be delayed from travel until a fine is paid, and may be prevented from visiting Vietnam again in the future.

If you want to stay in Vietnam, you must do so legally and with the right visa. Direct your visa-related enquiries to the nearest Immigration office.

We are aware that some foreigners have been using visa companies to submit visa applications to extend their stay in Vietnam without leaving the country. The UK government cannot control the rates charged by commercial companies. Neither are we able to recommend specific companies.

The Vietnamese government has temporarily suspended visa waivers, issuing of visas, and the entry into Vietnam for all foreigners. There are a very small number of exceptions for diplomats on official business and certain high-skilled workers. These will be processed on case-by-case basis.

You cannot leave Vietnam without a valid visa.

If you wish to sponsor visa for family members/dependants you should contact the nearest Immigration office for instruction.

Healthcare and medication

Visit the Health section of our Travel Advice for detailed advice on medical services, vaccinations, and health risks in Vietnam.

Standard of health care in public hospitals is different from in the UK. If you wish to receive the same health care standard as in the UK, you should consider using private hospitals.

See list of medical facilities in Vietnam for more details.

Medicine

If you are on a prescription for any form of medication, you should ensure you have a supply of it available, or are able to obtain it once in Vietnam. Certain medicines may not be available in Vietnam (including major brands readily available in the UK), and may be prohibited from entering the country. You should consult your GP before travelling to Vietnam to learn of any alternatives which may be available.

Health insurance

If you are resident in Vietnam ensure you have taken out an appropriate health insurance policy.

If you are a visitor, arrange comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers the following:

  • An air ambulance, in case you need to be flown home by this means;
  • Full medical cover (medical bills can be expensive);
  • Repatriation of your remains in the event of death; and
  • Repatriation of your family in the event it is necessary for you to return home due to illness or injury

Working in Vietnam

If you want to work in Vietnam you must have a valid work permit. For more information speak to your employer who will apply the work permit on your behalf.

If you have degree certificates, professional qualifications, job references, and police checks you must legalise them before they can be accepted by Vietnamese authorities. For information on how to get your documents legalised for use in Vietnam see legalisation of signatures and official stamps.

Money and Banking

The official currency of Vietnam is Vietnamese Đồng (VND). Cash is accepted universally.

Credit cards e.g. Visa, Master Card, JCB, and American Express are accepted in many restaurants, hotels, and shops in Vietnam’s big cities.

If you wish to transfer money out of Vietnam, you must use money transfer services e.g. PayPal, MoneyGram, or Western Union. You cannot transfer money internationally from your Vietnamese bank account unless the recipient is a member of your family.

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

See Double Taxation Agreement between UK and Vietnam.

For more information speak to your employer who will complete your tax profile on your behalf. If you do not work but need more information about your tax profile contact a local lawyer. See our list of English-speaking lawyers.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Vietnam.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – Your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

Driving in Vietnam

See driving abroad and Road travel section on our Travel Advice.

You must have a valid local driving licence or international driving permit to ride a motorbike or drive a car in Vietnam. For more information, contact the nearest Transportation Office.

If you’re asked for a letter authenticating, certifying, or validating your UK driver’s licence, you should contact your UK issuing office e.g. the DVLA.

See taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Language, social ethics and traditions

  • Language: Vietnamese is the first language of the majority of the Vietnamese population, as well as a first or second language for the country’s ethnic minority groups.
  • Religion: Ancestor worship is the most popular belief amongst the Vietnamese people. Of the major world religions, Buddhism is prevalent followed by Catholicism. Atheism and Animism are also widespread.
  • Attitudes (and legal position) towards LGBT: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are generally tolerated in Vietnam, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City where there is a larger LGBT community. The Law on Marriage and Family 2014 came into effect in January 2015 provided some rights to same sex couples and allow same-sex marriage. Although it allows same-sex weddings, such couples are neither recognised nor protected under the law for matters such as persona and property rights.
  • Local expatriate groups and online fora: There are different local expat groups online and offline in Vietnam in cities.

Voting

British nationals living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

Births, deaths and getting married

See register a birth abroad.

A baby born to foreign parents in Vietnam must be registered at the local Justice Office where the father or mother resides.

A baby born to parents where parent is a foreigner and the other is a Vietnamese citizen residing overseas must be registered at the local Justice Office where the mother has registered her permanent residence

A baby born to parents where one parent is a foreigner and the other is a Vietnamese citizen must be registered within 60 days from the date of birth at the local Justice Office where the Vietnamese mother or father resides.

If the parents are unable to register the birth and a family member is asked to do it, an authorisation letter is needed.

See what to do after someone dies and bereavement information for Vietnam.

See getting married abroad. If you want to get same sex marriage in Vietnam, you will need to complete an Affirmation or Affidavit of Marital status.

List of lawyers and interpreters

Lists of English-speaking local lawyer, translators and interpreters who may be able to provide you with legal services and official translations in Vietnam. Please note that inclusion in this list does not constitute official endorsement by the Embassy or the Consulate-General or the UK government.

Notarial and documentary services

Information on how to apply for notarial and documentary services available at the Embassy and Consulate-General in Vietnam, such as official documents, certificates, and notes.

British passport facilities

The Embassy and Consulate-General does not deal with passport applications and cannot provide advice on this. For information on how to apply for your first passport or renew an existing passport visit Overseas passport section of this website.

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

  • 111 Hotline for child protection, 24/7, free of charge
  • 112 National search and rescue
  • 113 Police
  • 114 Fire
  • 115 Ambulance

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

With the effectiveness of the Vietnamese Law on Residential Housing in 2015, foreigners can purchase as many property units as they desire and there is no limitation on the total purchase of property units. Nonetheless, there are some restrictions. The number of property units in one administrative ward a foreigner can own is limited. A foreigner can only purchase a maximum of 30% units of the condominiums and are not allowed to own more than 10% properties of a landed project.

Foreigners are not allowed to purchase land in Vietnam. They are allowed to use and control the land they lease with a leasehold period of up to 50-70 years. The leasehold period if renewable.

Freehold ownership is not permitted for foreigners unless a foreigner is married to a Vietnamese national.

Leaving Vietnam

If you have not made full National Insurance (NI) contributions, remember you may not be eligible for state benefits or support. HM Revenue & Customs provide some useful information on returning to live in the UK for non-residents, including how to make NI contributions from abroad. If you reside in Vietnam and would like to apply for a criminal record check, please contact the local Justice Office (Hanoi: +84 024 3354 6163, Ho Chi Minh City: +84 028 3829 0230) and they can issue a “Judicial Record”. This record is normally only issued to foreigners residing in Vietnam but not to the short-term visitors. The Embassy and Consulate-General cannot help you to obtain this certificate. You may need to ask your Vietnamese employer or hire a local lawyer to make enquiry about this process. Also, we don’t provide a biometric test at post for birth registration.

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Returning to the UK

If you live in Vietnam and are considering returning to live in the UK (for example on retirement) you should consider how you will support yourself, and how non-British members of your family may be able to accompany you. There is information available to help you make informed choices about living abroad and thinking about returning to the UK.

National Insurance (NI)

If you have not made full NI contributions, you may not be eligible for state benefits or support. HM Revenue & Customs provide some useful information on returning to live in the UK for non-residents, including how to make NI contributions from abroad.

Healthcare

Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. You must be able to show UK residency to be eligible for free treatment, even if you are a British citizen. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau or NHS can provide further information.

Visas

If you wish to return to live in the UK with family members who do not hold British citizenship, they will need to meet the UK’s immigration requirements for settlement in the UK. See the UK Visa and Immigration page for more details.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Vietnamese authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 26 November 2013
Last updated 24 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Update the guide.

  2. Update the guide

  3. Update to Health, Visa & Immigration, Entry & Residence Requirements, Driving licences and vehicles.

  4. Addition of information on Visa extensions

  5. Addition of guidance on Covid-19, Health and Visa & Immigration

  6. Addition of guidance on Covid-19, Health and Visa & Immigration

  7. TO update more information upon request of HQ.

  8. First published.