Thinking about retiring but not sure where to settle down? With its rich culture and landscapes, temperate climate, wonderful cuisine, and low living expenses, Vietnam has remained one of the top locations for international retirees seeking to make the most of their golden years. Vietnam not only provides seniors with a fulfilling yet budget-friendly lifestyle. Because of recent immigration changes, you only have one option for retirement in Vietnam: registering a business or submitting a foreign direct investment (FDI) package, also known as “active retirement”.
Active Retirement is based on the idea of staying active in a small business while living in Vietnam, but through trustworthy local managers to run your business and an accountant to keep your business compliant.
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Unlike neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which provide retirement visas for senior citizens, Vietnam doesn’t offer many choices for obtaining a visa as the government’s priority for long term foreign residents has been bringing in skilled workers and investors. However, you can still take advantage of the visa durations and flexible circumstances to legally reside in Vietnam via an investment.
Is there a retirement visa for foreigners in Vietnam?
Unfortunately, Vietnam doesn’t currently offer a legitimate retirement visa in Vietnam. If you want to stay for extended periods in Vietnam and a tourist visa is not enough, you must apply for a business or investment visa, according to the latest updates in immigration legislation. More information on these two visa types can be found below.
How can a foreigner retire and stay in Vietnam?
1. Start a Business & Apply for an Investor Visa (DT Visa)
An investor visa, also known as a DT visa, is an option for those planning to choose Vietnam retirement. However, you can only apply for an investor visa if you become an investor, meaning you have to start a company in the country.
In Vietnam, company incorporation is a complicated procedure. It’s also time-consuming and expensive, especially if not carried out correctly. It is advisable to hire an expert visa adviser to ensure and compliant immigration process and avoid any misunderstandings about the long-term visa.
A DT visa is usually only valid for three months, although you might be able to extend its validity for another three to five years. Additionally, you can use your visa to apply for a temporary residence card (TRC).
If you apply for an investor visa, this will come with some investment requirements, which for a retiree can mean opening up a small restaurant or consulting business. There is no minumum investment requirements, however we recommend $10,000 as a minimum in order for your application to be accepted.
2. Find a Local Partner and Apply with a Business Visa (DN Visa)
If you are unable to get a DT visa, a business visa, also known as DN visa, can also allow you to reside in Vietnam. A DN visa, like an investor visa, only lasts for three months. To renew it, you’ll need to apply for a work permit, and in turn you’ll be able to acquire a TRC.
If you are planning on retiring in Vietnam the only way to get a business visa is through a company that is already established in Vietnam. In this case the best workaround is to setup a business with a Vietnamese partner who you trust, and this person can put you on the payroll and send you a letter of invitation which will clear your entry into Vietnam.
NOTE: Your business visa needs to be renewed yearly.
3. Exemption Visa Via a Vietnamese Spouse
You are entitled to a five-year visa exemption in Vietnam if you are a foreign retiree married to a Vietnamese citizen. The procedure to apply for this benefit is much simpler as long as you have prepared and filed all of the required documents: marriage certificate, identification documents of both spouses (including a valid passport and Vietnamese spouse’s identity card), household registration book, and any other relevant documents specific to your case.
4. The Final Solution: Active Retirement
The idea of Active Retirement stems from the need to actually have a business with an investor account and processing monthly transactions. You have to fulfill basic compliance regulations, such as getting a Business Registration Certificate, paying your taxes, and completing your business tax finalizations on a yearly basis. If done right the costs of running a business can be low, and the actual profits can even cover your costs. We recommend hiring a trustworthy local manager to run the business and a local accountant to keep you in compliance. Common small business run by foreigners retired in Vietnam are the following:
- Restaurant or Bar
- Business Consulting
- Bar or Coffee Shop
- English School
There is, however, yet another method of active retirement. Buying a shelf company is currently the quickest way for you to start doing business in Vietnam and in turn, become an investor in the country. You will be able to apply for an investor visa and enjoy the same benefits of starting your own business.
A shelf company is essentially a company whose registration and paperwork has already been taken care of, therefore it will only be a matter of days before it can go into operation.
This article was originally published in February 2020 and was updated with recent regulations and accurate information in September 2022.
Originally published: 2 February 2020; latest update: 15 September 2022 17:06 PM
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