How EORs Mitigate Permanent Establishment Risks in Vietnam

Expanding into new markets like Vietnam presents exciting growth opportunities but also introduces complex regulatory challenges, notably the risk of establishing a Permanent Establishment (PE) which can lead to significant tax obligations. Employers of Record (EOR) offer a strategic solution, allowing companies to tap into the Vietnamese market while minimizing legal and fiscal risks. This article explores the benefits of EOR services as a safeguard against PE risks, ensuring a smoother and more compliant business expansion.

1.Understanding Permanent Establishment Risk

Permanent Establishment (PE) is a pivotal concept in international taxation that determines when a company’s operations in a foreign country require it to comply with local tax obligations. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a PE arises when a business has a fixed place of operation in a foreign country, from which it conducts its business partially or wholly. In Vietnam, specific activities such as maintaining an office, having a workforce, or engaging in substantial business activities for more than six months can trigger PE status.

The implications of PE in Vietnam are significant. For example, the presence of a project management office for a project exceeding 182 days within 12 months can establish a PE, subjecting the foreign company to a corporate income tax rate of up to 20%. Non-compliance can lead to hefty penalties, including back taxes and fines that might equal or exceed the original tax liability.

Additionally, creating a PE can expose companies to the risk of double taxation—being taxed in both the host country and the company’s home country. The administrative demands of compliance with both tax systems can compound this dual financial burden. According to the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, dealing with taxes in Vietnam involves making 32 tax payments annually, requiring about 498 hours a year for compliance, illustrating the extensive administrative load on businesses.

2. The Role of Employer of Record in Mitigating PE Risk

An Employer of Record is an organization that legally employs staff on behalf of another business and takes responsibility for all formal employment tasks. An EOR can manage payroll, taxes, employee benefits, and other HR functions for companies expanding into Vietnam, minimizing the risk of creating a Permanent Establishment. By hiring through an EOR, companies can operate in Vietnam without setting up a local entity—a critical factor in avoiding PE designation. Essentially, while the client company directs the employees’ day-to-day activities, the EOR handles all employment-related legal and administrative responsibilities.

Benefits of Using an EOR for Business Expansion in Vietnam
  1. Compliance Assurance: EOR services are invaluable in ensuring compliance with Vietnam’s labor laws and taxation regulations. These providers are well-versed in local legislation and can navigate the complexities of tax systems and employment laws, thus safeguarding foreign companies from legal pitfalls and the risk of non-compliance penalties.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Utilizing an EOR can lead to significant cost savings. It eliminates the need for a physical office and reduces expenses associated with legal services, HR staffing, and administrative overheads. Moreover, by mitigating PE risks, companies can avoid extensive tax liabilities that would otherwise accrue if a permanent establishment were established.
  3. Speed and Efficiency in Market Entry: Companies aiming for rapid expansion can benefit greatly from EOR services. By bypassing the lengthy and costly processes associated with setting up a local entity, businesses can become operational in Vietnam more quickly and efficiently. This speed to market is a competitive advantage in fast-moving sectors.
Choosing the Right EOR Partner

Selecting an effective EOR provider is crucial. Companies should look for partners with a strong track record in Vietnam, deep understanding of local business practices, and robust infrastructure. Key considerations include:

  • Expertise in Local Regulations: Knowledge of Vietnamese labor laws, tax systems, and industry-specific regulations is essential.
  • Reliability: A reputable EOR can provide continuity, stability, and risk management.
  • Support Systems: Adequate support in managing employee relations and ensuring smooth operations is vital.


Employing an Employer of Record is a strategic approach for international businesses planning to expand into Vietnam while managing Permanent Establishment risks effectively. EOR services not only ensure compliance with local regulations but also offer a cost-effective, efficient pathway to enter the Vietnamese market. For CEOs and hiring managers looking to navigate the complexities of international expansion with reduced risk, EORs present a compelling solution.

Metasource: Your Trusted Partner

Metasource is your trusted partner for consulting and supporting effective staff management across global teams, especially in culturally diverse environments like Vietnam.

Read more: Navigating the Complexities of Obtaining a Working Permit in Vietnam

Read more: How To Register A Limited Liability Company In Vietnam A Quick Guide

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