Vietnam is a gem (okay, I’m biased). While it is usually on the South East Asia budget travel circuit, and the go-to place for motorcycle adventures, if you snag a job as an expat the quality of life can be really good.
The Vietnamese Government has signed a working holiday agreement with New Zealand in 2012, and with Australia in 2015. There is an official page for the working holiday visa which is handy. Hopefully, this guide will add a few more details to successfully getting the working holiday visa.
- Vital stats
- Application requirements
- Step by step
- Note about arrival
Date agreement signed: 6 June 2012 
Agreement signed by: TBC
Date agreement implemented by Vietnam: 15 July 2012 
Number of visas available for New Zealanders: 100 
Average annual quota used: 1 per year (In 2016 it was me, maybe it’s you next?)
Processing time: Allow 2-3 months
Visa length: 1 year 
Visa fee: NZ$250
Age requirement: 18-30 inclusive 
Difficulty to get visa: 6/10 – patience and persistence are required
Time allowed before entry: 0 days – Visa validity starts from date of visa issue for one year.
Can apply outside of NZ: Apply via Wellington Embassy. Can apply via mail or in person. See guide below for more details
Extra immigration steps: Yes, collecting work permit. See How to get the Vietnam Working Holiday Work Permit.
Work/Study restrictions: TBC
Notes: If you wish to drive a motorbike in Vietnam legally, you should already have a motorbike licence from your home country which you can get an International Driving Permit or have it converted to a Vietnamese drivers licence.
Note: I was the first person to apply and get the Vietnamese working holiday visa (ever), so it is fair for things to take a little bit longer as they are new processes. Also in the future the process may change. Please leave a comment to let us know how your application went.
For me, the application process took 10 weeks. There was one part where I may have slowed things down by not having photos. Best to allow 2-3 months for your application, while this is on the longer end of applications is by no means the worst! Your passport is not required for the whole application period.
I found my calls to the embassy went unanswered, so it was best to email if I wanted to follow up or had questions. I was lucky to be in Wellington where the embassy is, so I could also pop in if needed. It is possible to apply by mail, but would require patience.
- New Zealand citizen
- In good health
- Have NZD$4,200 to support yourself
- Passport is valid for at least one month after expiry of visa
- 18-30 years old inclusive at time of application
Things that you’ll need to make this application:
- Completed application form (see Step 1 below for a link to the form)
- A photocopy of the identity page of your New Zealand passport. Note the expiry date should be at least one month longer than the applied duration of the visa;
- A health certificate within the last 180 days stating that you are in good condition to work under the laws and regulations of New Zealand.
- Proof of NCEA Level 2 or any higher education;
- Proof you meet the financial requirement – NZD$4,200 or more in an NZ bank account.
- Three passport-sized colour photos (size: 3cm x 4cm), without any head coverings
- Application fee NZD$250
TIP: Make sure that you have some spare ID photos! 6-8 would be ideal. I gave them three when I submitted the application, but a different government department in Vietnam asked for more.
Once your application is accepted your passport will be required. I you don’t need your passport for a few months you can supply this with your application. Or you can supply it later
I remember thinking at the time that the visa was a little expensive at $250, compared with some of the other working holiday visas that I had applied for. It’s by no means the most expensive working holiday applications – the UK and Norway take the crown(s) at $600+ for this.
The process to expect:
- Collate all your application requirements
- Submit the application to the Vietnamese Embassy in Wellington.
- Wait – about 7 weeks
- More documents may be requested. I had to send some more ID photos to the Bureau of Employment in Vietnam
- Wait – about 2 weeks
- Get your passport stamped and pay the visa fee
The application form
Go to the Government website and download a copy of the application form (there should be PDF or Doc options). If it’s not there I’ve saved a copy here: Vietnam WHS application form (36KB, MS Word)
On the second page, you will have the option of selecting where to pick up your Work Permit from. Even if you don’t end up working in Vietnam, the work permit will enable you to do other things like open a bank account etc.
The two options on where to collect the work permit are:
- Job placement center in Ho Chi Minh City
- The office of the Bureau of Employment (Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs) (I assume this is in Hanoi)
See How to get the Vietnam Working Holiday Work Permit for information on how to collect this in Ho Chi Minh.
The Vietnamese working holiday visa is unique – it is the only country that New Zealand has working holiday agreement with that doesn’t provide visa-free entry to tourists. So regardless of how long you want to visit Vietnam, an NZ passport holder will be applying for a visa.
The working holiday visa for Vietnam gives you that extra bit of flexibility of being able to stay in the country for a whole year, with out having to do visa runs which is common in the area. And even if you don’t work, through the work permit you still have the ability to setup bank accounts and other services which are not available to tourists.
And lastly, the Vietnamese people are incredibly warm, happy, and helpful. In terms of unique experience and quality of life when working as an expat, Vietnam offers an experience that is hard to match in other countries like the UK, Canada, Australia – which are all popular gap year countries for young kiwis.
After you arrive
Once you are in the country make sure you pick up the Work Permit. See How to get the Vietnam Working Holiday Work Permit. You can also get your drivers licence converted if you’d like – see How to get your driver licence converted to a Vietnamese driver licence.