Set up an import and export (trading) company in Vietnam

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Vietnam is a potential investment market for foreign investors. The government of Vietnam has signed many trade agreements showing its openness to the global economy.

In Vietnam, a foreign-owned company have the right to import and export of goods in accordance with the laws and international treaties to which Vietnam is a member.

1. Freedoms to export and import

According to Clause 2 Article 5 of the Foreign Trade Management Law 2017, the freedom to export and import shall be exercised as follows:

  • The right to export and import shall be exercised in accordance with regulations of this Law and international treaties to which Vietnam is a member.
  • A trader buys goods in Vietnam and exports them to foreign countries by making an export declaration to carry out and take responsibilities for procedures related to the export.
  • The trader may import goods from foreign countries to Vietnam and sell them to those who have the rights to distribute such goods in Vietnam by making an import declaration to carry out and take responsibilities for procedures related to the import.

2. Goods are allowed to export and import

Vietnam allows foreign-owned companies to export and import almost all goods in the market as long as they meet the requirements of law and international treaties, except for those included in the list of prohibited exports and imports.

Goods are prohibited to export when they fall into one of the following cases: to be exported related to national defense and security have not obtained the permission of the competent authority for export; To protect relics, antiques and national precious objects; The prohibition of export is imposed according to international treaties to which Vietnam is a member.

Goods are prohibited to export when they fall into one of the following cases: Goods to be imported related to national defense and security have not obtained the permission of the competent authority for import; Goods damage the health and safety of customers; Goods affect the social order and safety, social morality and good customs and habits; Goods damage the environment and biodiversity, pose a high risk of obtaining pests, threaten the food security, production and export of Vietnam and infringe intellectual property rights; The prohibition of import is imposed according to international treaties to Vietnam is a member.

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The investors refer to List of prohibited exports or imports at Appendix I issued together with the Decree No. 69/2018/NĐ-CP dated May 15, 2018.

3. Goods requiring export or import license, only be exported or imported under given conditions, or subject to inspection.

Investors should pay attention to goods requiring export or import license, those only be exported or imported under given conditions, or subject to inspection prescribed in Article 65 of the Foreign Trade Management Law 2017. Because when carrying out export and import, investors not only have to handle import and export procedures at customs offices but also carry out administrative procedures at other competent state agencies.

Goods requiring export or import license are goods which the exporter or importer shall obtain such a license issued by the state agency to carry out goods export and import activities. Goods only be exported or imported under given conditions are goods which regulated by the competent authority to define conditions for business entities, types, quantity and volume of products, facilities, techniques, equipment and areas which shall be satisfied by investors in case of export and import for which licenses are not required. For exports and imports subject to inspection prescribed in Article 65 of the Foreign Trade Management Law, the exporter or importer shall have its goods inspected by the competent authorities.

For details about each type of goods and the settlement authority, the investors refer to Appendix III: List of exported or imported goods requiring licenses or under given conditions (Issued together with the Decree No. 69/2018/NĐ-CP dated May 15, 2018).

4. Establishing an import and export company

  1. Applying for an investment registration certificate (IRC);
  2. Applying for business registration certificate (ERC);
  3. Opening a company bank account and investment capital account;
  4. Completing initial tax and accounting procedures.

Licensing authority: Department of Planning and Investment

Time of completion: about 20 – 30 working days

Legal bases: The Foreign Trade Management Law 2017; Decree No. 69/2018/NĐ-CP dated May 15, 2018; Decree No. 09/2018/NĐ-CP dated January 15, 2018.

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