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Vietnam: Job Market and Social Security

Do you consider taking advantage of Indochina’s developing job market and start working in Vietnam? Vietnam’s business world has some confusing odds and ends, which our Vietnam Guide will help you figure out. Read on for information on the economy, work permits, and job opportunities!
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a popular expat destination.

Plenty of Job Opportunities in Import-Export and Services

As mentioned before, Vietnam’s economy is mostly based on the export of goods, and many expatriates find work in this booming industry. If you are looking to export Vietnamese products, your chances of finding work there are quite high.

Employment in the service sector, especially banking and tourism, is also readily available. However, high qualifications are a prerequisite and may prove to be problematic. The language barrier can be an issue as well. While English is spoken widely in Vietnam’s business world, some business partners may only understand Vietnamese.

In the past, many foreigners who went to Vietnam found work as English teachers. After all, English teaching jobs are both widely available in Vietnam and generously paid. While once virtually anybody was able to teach in Vietnam, the government has implemented restrictions that require language schools to do a background check before hiring teachers. Despite these stricter rules, qualified teachers in a variety of fields are still sought.

Ultimately, what matters is that you are creative, persistent, and willing to jump a few hurdles.

Social Security Contributions: Most Expats Are Exempted

Social security contributions in Vietnam are divided into three elements: social insurance, health insurance, and unemployment insurance. As of 2016, only the health insurance element is applicable to expats, and only under certain conditions:

  • Only expats employed under Vietnamese labor contracts have to pay these contributions.
  • Expats employed by overseas companies without a local contract between them and the Vietnamese entity do not have to pay this element.
  • Thus, the aforementioned expats do not have to pay any social security contributions in Vietnam.

As for the health insurance rate, the employer has to pay 3%, while the employee has to pay 1.5% of his or her salary.

Social Security Services

If you have contributed to the economy for twenty years, you are eligible to receive old-age pension in Vietnam from the age of 60 (men) or 55 (women). If you have faced dangerous or hazardous working conditions which may have affected your health significantly, you may retire early. The same is the case if you are dealing with disability.

Other social security services include sickness, maternity and work injury benefits among others. The Vietnam Social Security is the name of the organization that takes care of the administrative process. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs is responsible for the general supervision.

Punctuality, Business Cards, and Calmness Are a Must

As in any foreign country, understanding business etiquette is essential. Business relationships take some time to develop and usually remain formal. So make sure to be patient when doing business in Vietnam and try to stick to a few rules:

  • Don’t speak loudly or use excessive gestures as this is considered incredibly impolite.
  • Business cards are a must. Make sure to have one side printed in English and the other in Vietnamese. Present them with both hands and the Vietnamese side up.
  • Always be punctual, as this is highly valued. If you realize that you are running late, call your business partners and let them know.
  • Do not refuse tea or coffee if it is offered to you.
  • Try not to publicly criticize your colleagues or business partners as this would cause both of you to lose face.
  • Don’t touch other people’s heads. It used to be considered their spiritual center or seat of their soul. Such a gesture — even towards a child — will still be seen as rather rude.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Alain Nguyen

"The business contacts I made through InterNations, especially with other expats in Vietnam, proved to be invaluable."

Sneha Gupta

"Absolutely recommendable: Not only did we find the best places to go out in HCMC, but also great people and expats to meet up with. "

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