Vietnam on March 22 suspended the entry of all foreign visitors including those with visa exemption certificates in a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, it suspended all international flights by March 25, effectively locking out visitors and business professionals except for Vietnamese nationals returning on special repatriation flights.
Vietnam’s government, however, has allowed diplomats, officials, business experts, managers, highly skilled workers, and students to come to Vietnam provided they meet the necessary requirements.
With Vietnam containing the pandemic better than most countries and recording zero deaths, the government has encouraged businesses to resume activities. While the entry ban on foreigners remains in effect the government has also asked the relevant authorities to facilitate the entry of investors, technical experts, high-skilled workers, managers, officials, and diplomats. Nevertheless, Vietnam remains closed to foreign tourists as of now.
Up until July, several foreign experts, managers, and students have been to enter from South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and so on via special flights. Most recently, the government also announced plans on resuming select international flights on a bilateral basis to countries within Asia such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, Laos, and Cambodia, though no official date has been given.
Foreign employees that want to enter Vietnam should ensure they have a sponsor who can assist the employee in obtaining the necessary paperwork and communicate any changes to them.
Since the authorities have not specified any time limit for processing, employers should obtain all the necessary approvals and documents as far ahead as possible so that any delays are limited.
Guidance for employers
We highlight some of the important steps that employers can undertake to facilitate the arrival of their foreign employees:
- The employer is required to submit a letter to the local provincial people’s committee with specific details about the employee job details as well as their travel plans;
- The local provincial people’s committee is then expected to make a decision and then submit the request to Vietnam’s immigration department; and
- If the application is approved, the employer would also need to submit a letter and necessary documents to the immigration department including the local provincial people’s committee decision on the approval.
The Vietnam government recently issued Official Dispatch No. 3949/CV-BCD on July 24 issuing additional requirements for foreign workers entering Vietnam. As per the directive:
- Foreign workers will have to test for COVID-19 three to seven days before entering Vietnam using the real-time PCR technique. The tests must be done at testing centers approved by their government or at test centers approved by the World Health Organization (WHO); and
- Foreign workers should have international health insurance, or their sponsor will be required to pay for treatment in case they are infected with COVID-19.
These requirements do not apply to foreign workers who have already booked tickets and are entering Vietnam before August 5.
Mandatory quarantine for incoming travelers
It is important to note that anyone entering Vietnam is subject to a 14-day quarantine. The quarantine is typically at a centralized government facility or a designated hotel. Testing for COVID-19 is done at least twice during the quarantine period. After serving the mandatory quarantine, the individuals may be under medical surveillance for another 14 days.
The government is keen to allow foreigners for business purposes to enter the country. As Vietnam slowly begins to ease travel restrictions, officials in Ho Chi Minh City have approved eight hotels including Le Meridian Saigon, Holiday Inn, IBIS Saigon, and Norfolk to serve as paid quarantine zones.
It is important to note that due to the pandemic, this is the first time that such strict travel restrictions have come into play and as such, there is no precedence for similar restrictions.
We recommend that investors and businesses use a professional firm to navigate the intricacies and administrative procedures to help secure an entry permit for their foreign employees.
Besides, with several countries easing travel restrictions, regulations are likely to change quickly. We, therefore, recommend that businesses follow us and check this space for any updates or changes to the current regulations.