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  • Are you legal on the road in Ho Chi Minh City?

    One of the most commonly-asked expat-related questions in Ho Chi Minh City and the source of many expat myths, the subject of how to become licensed to drive in this town causes no end of frustration amongst foreigners, so much so that the majority allegedly ignore the problem altogether and drive without doing any paperwork at all. This is unnecessary – there are clear answers to the question, and relatively clear procedures in resolving your licensing issues for good so that you never have to worry about the attention of traffic police again. The simple answer is no: an international or foreign driving license, in general, has no legal weight in Vietnam and is not equivalent to a local driving license in Vietnam. To drive here, you must have a locally-issued license. This leads many to conclude that they’ll be ineligible, because the language barrier prevents them from sitting a theory examination – but this is not the case. All you need to do is go through the process of applying for a local license based on the strength of your international one, and you’re done. Hit the road and drive easy. Street legal in HCMC Foreigners who meet certain criteria can use their international or foreign driver’s license to obtain a Vietnamese one. Those criteria are:       Foreigners who reside, work and study in Vietnam for a period of 3 months or more. Long-term foreign travelers (exactly what constitutes “long term” is not specified).       This covers almost everyone staying here long enough to want a license in the first place. Theoretically, the total process of license conversion takes about 10 working days at a cost of VND30,000. In HCMC, the authority in charge of this issue is the Ho Chi Minh City Department of

  • Legally employed without a permit.

    Disclaimer on Legal Documents Published on Atexpats The direct translations of Vietnamese legal bulletins and laws published on this website are not in themselves official documents, and are provided for educational and reference purposes only. While these versions are believed to be relatively accurate, Atexpats is not a legal agency and is not licensed nor qualified to interpret Vietnamese law in any official capacity. For the most accurate legal information, please consult with a registered law firm. Highlighting and summarial overviews of these laws contained in this article are observations added by Atexpats in order to draw readers’ attention to clauses that may be relevant to foreigners and are not intended as interpretations or guides. Atexpats may not be held liable for the actions of any individual or entity based on this information. The 2013 Labour Code of Vietnam , supplemented by the recent regulation ( #102/2013/NĐ-CP ), outlines the scenarios in which a foreign national working in Vietnam is not required to obtain a work permit. Individuals that are granted this exemption must fall into one of the following groups:       Contributing member or owner of a limited liability company. A member on the board of directors in a joint stock company. The head of a representative office, non-governmental organisation, or an international project taking place in Vietnam. Those offering their services in the country for less than three months. Those coming to Vietnam for less than three months to handle an urgent situation, such as a technical problem or complex technological malfunction that would affect or threaten to affect production. This applies only if the problem cannot be solved by a Vietnamese expert or a foreign expert that is currently in Vietnam. A foreign lawyer who has been licensed to practice law in Vietnam under the

  • Stretch your way to fitness and good health.

    Yoga has had a presence in Ho Chi Minh City since the early 1990s, but it wasn’t until the last decade that this healthy form of exercise began to grow in popularity as more and more people came to recognise the advantages it represented. During this period, running a yoga centre was one of the most lucrative health businesses in the city, and instructing in yoga was a respected, fashionable, and relatively high-earning position. Due to its wild popularity, however, yoga in Vietnam (and especially in HCMC) became greatly marketised, and in many ways the essence of yoga has been diluted to suit local preferences. This is readily apparent from the kinds of yoga courses offered in flyers from 'Yoga Beauty Centres' such as ‘Slim-down Yoga’, ‘Sexy Yoga’ and so on. The snazzy image of the yoga business has thus faded over time, courtesy of the countless yoga businesses that sprang up along with this trend. It’s said that yoga is most suitable for people who are over 25, helping them to stay healthy – but for younger people who are already in shape, yoga classes are thought to be a way to maintain beauty and hold on to a good figure. It was in meeting the demands of these target market sectors that the phenomenon of the Yoga Beauty Centre developed in Vietnam, and besides the number of middle-aged yoga instructors with more experience in this field, there are also instructors under 30 who bring more diversity to the industry. Yoga instructors in Saigon are of various origins, some of them being foreigners (of which the majority are from yoga’s country of origin – India), and the rest are locals who have practiced yoga for a very long time and discovered the passion to develop it here in their hometown. So far, there’s no consensus on which teachers are Saigon’s most prominent yoga figures, as it seems most local people pay less attention to individual instructors and more on the fame and reputation of the centres themselves – as well as keeping a careful eye on fees.

  • The complexities of hiring expat staff

    Whether you’re hiring expats or are yourself an expat looking to be hired in Vietnam, there’s something you need to understand. The local administration is relatively (some might say reluctantly) welcoming of foreign experts participating in the local economy (it all works towards the benefit of local enterprises) but their greatest concern is the exploitation of cheap manpower from abroad, of the kind that leaves local blue-collar workers in the cold. Accordingly, there are laws in Vietnam designed to protect job opportunities for locals by limiting businesses that employ foreign staff. While the main focus of these laws serves to guard local labourers against replacement by cheaper hired hands from poorer neighbouring countries, the same legislation does restrict English-speaking foreigners in white collar industries and across the employment spectrum. The spirit of the law is summed up in Article 5.1 of the Decree on Foreign Workers in Vietnam – “It is prohibited to employ foreign workers to do jobs that can be satisfactorily done by Vietnamese workers, especially manual jobs and unskilled jobs.” Believe me – no-one in Vietnam has mad skills like mine It can be said that things have gotten tougher rather than easier for foreign workers in recent years. Elaborating on the 2012 Labour Code, the release of the Decree on Foreign Workers in Vietnam #102/2013/NĐ-CP (which came into effect in November 2013) caused a great deal of frustration for foreign staff and their employers who were incensed at the even greater restrictions placed on hiring foreigners when the demands of business had been calling for the opposite approach. The new rules were widely criticised when they were released – so much so that after a meeting in June 2014 between the business community and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (during which a prominent foreign businessman pointed

  • When I raise my trigger finger.

    For many expats in HCMC, surviving the commute and crossing the street are more than enough to meet the recommended daily allowance of adrenaline. And while most people decompress over a drink with friends, for some of us the only way to hit the reset button is by cranking the intensity up to 11. If that rings true for you, head on over to one of the city’s paintball fields to discover the zen of pretend warfare. Paintball ( súng sơn in Vietnamese) is a fairly recent phenomenon here – introduced to Vietnam in 2009, it has quickly gained popularity and there are now a number of competitions held throughout the country that attract more and more teams every year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sport has really taken off with Saigonese teenagers and young adults eager to train their trigger fingers. As a result, the city now boasts five paintball clubs and a specialised equipment store. For expat enthusiasts, the good news is that playing paintball in Vietnam is cheaper than in many Western countries. Typically, clubs in HCMC have an hourly charge of around VND50,000, which includes the use of fields and equipment rental; paintballs are sold separately by the hundred. Here is a brief overview of the city’s paintball clubs : Paintball Saigon | 14-16-18, No.11 Street, An Phu, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | 84 906 819001 The only foreign-owned paintball club in HCMC, Paintball Saigon currently has two fields (one of which is up to international competition standards), with a third one scheduled to open later this year. The owner has over 20 years of paintball experience, which shows through in details such as the barricades and obstacles being repositioned on a regular basis. There are no hourly charges, as each session lasts about three hours and players can choose a package based on the number of paintballs they plan to use (100 for VND500,000; 200 for VND700,000; and so on). The on-site shower facilities and free towel rental make it easy to stay for a bite and a beer at the attached restaurant/bar. Individuals are welcome, and the club also organises group and corporate events.

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