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Asia Briefing

Horizontal July 2018 GPR_AsiaBriefing

Guide to Employment Permits for Foreign Workers in Brunei

By Dezan Shira & Associates

Brunei is among the most popular destinations for foreigners looking for career opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Over the years, the country has emerged as a wealthy economy fueled by the largest oilfields in Southeast Asia. With a growing economy and English as its business language, the number of foreigners looking to work in Brunei has increased significantly.

Here is a brief explanation of the procedures and documents required for obtaining an employment permit in the country.

As a general rule, all foreigners traveling to Brunei for employment purposes must obtain a valid employment visa and employment pass before entering the country. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.

Foreigners from the following countries traveling to Brunei on a short-term business or professional visit may travel without an employment visa for a limited period:

  • Nationals of Cambodia, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Myanmar, Norway, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Peru, Qatar, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam may visit Brunei without an employment visa for a period of 14 days
  • Citizens of Australia, Iceland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine can visit for a maximum period of 30 days without an employment visa
  • Citizens of the United States and the European Union are allowed a visa-free business visit for 90 days

Cases eligible for a visa-free visit include cultural, technological, or scientific conferences, seminars or meetings, and unpaid participation in athletic or performing arts events or competitions.

Foreign workers traveling from other countries or ones visiting on a long-term business contract must obtain an employment visa authorized by the Department of Immigration and National Registration from a Brunei embassy or consulate.

Procedure, Documents Required to Obtain Employment Visas

Recently, the government of Brunei introduced a new process for permitting foreign workers to be employed in the country—a foreign worker license, or Lesen Pekeria Asing (LPA). The new process requires employers to register and advertise vacancies; receive clearance from JOBCentre Brunei; and obtain endorsement from the Employees Trust Fund (Tabung Amanah Pekerja or TAP) prior to submitting the application for the license.

In addition, the employer or the company applying must be registered with the Registry of Companies and Business Names (ROCBN) and must comply with the rules set out by the Department of Labor and the Department of Immigration and National Registration with regard to entry and recruitment of foreign workers into the country.

The documents required for an LPA are:

  • Two copies of foreign worker application form
  • A copy of the identity card and passport for each applicant, owner, or partner in the company
  • A copy of the valid passport for every applicant
  • Copies of approval letters from relevant government agencies (if applicable)
  • A list of local employees verified by the TAP
  • Verification of mandatory registration from JobCentre Brunei
  • A copy of certificate equivalent to the occupation should the occupation require qualifications
  • A copy of the tenancy agreement for office, business premises, or company and worker residence (if applicable)
  • In case of construction activities, attached copies of ongoing or upcoming projects

After the documentation requirements are met, the employer must make a payment of a security deposit to the finance unit of the Department of Labor to complete the procedure to obtain an LPA. The total processing time for an LPA is 14 days.

Visa Application

Upon the approval of an LPA, foreign workers must undergo a pre-employment medical examination at an accredited health center in the country, as per the conditions set out by the Ministry of Health, Brunei.

Once the medical report is received and approved, foreign workers must file the following application documents:

  • An application letter from the employer to the Director of the Department of Immigration and National Registration
  • An employment pass application form
  • A visa application form
  • The employer’s labor license
  • Department of Labor  Form 500
  • A passport recognized by the Director of the Department of Immigration and National Registration, with a validity of more than six months before entering the country
  • Required fee

After the documents are verified and the visa application is approved, the applicant may collect the work pass from the relevant Brunei diplomatic mission. The pass is valid for a period of two years and can be renewed for another two years at a time. The processing time for an employment visa is five working days.  

Foreigners entering Brunei on an employment pass with a validity of more than three months are required to register with the national registration identity card system for a smart identity card, also known as Green Identity Card (IC). This card must be renewed each time the employment pass is renewed or extended. It is issued by the Department of Immigration and National Registration.

Employers must note that under the new process, the Department of Labor will conduct a mandatory inspection three to six months after license approval, instead of conducting it prior to the issuance of the license, as was done under the previous process.

Editor’s Note: The article was first published by Dezan Shira & Associates on October 19, 2017, and has been updated on March 1, 2018, as per latest developments.

This article was first published on
ASEAN Briefing.

Since its establishment in 1992, Dezan Shira & Associates has been guiding foreign clients through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assisting them with all aspects of legal, accounting, tax, internal control, HR, payroll, and audit matters. As a full-service consultancy with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, and ASEAN, we are your reliable partner for business expansion in this region and beyond.

For inquiries, please email us at [email protected]. Further information about our firm can be found at: