Once an investor has set up their trading company within Vietnam, it is important that their workers gain a strong understanding of the country’s import and export regulations and procedures. Below we lay out the key takeaways that companies must be aware of before starting their trading activities in Vietnam.
Import and Export Licensing Procedures
Vietnam does not require a company to have an import/export license in order to set up a trading company. However, in order to be able to conduct import/export business, a foreign investor must register with the Department of Planning and Investment (DPI). Additionally, foreign investors who wish to engage in import/export activities in Vietnam are required to obtain an Investment Certificate. Companies that wish to expand their current business operations in order to engage in import/export activities must follow the procedures for adjusting their Investment Certificates.
According to Circular 34/2013/TT-BCT, there are certain goods that foreign invested enterprises may not export from, or import into, Vietnam. Goods banned for export include petroleum oil. Goods banned from import into the country include cigars, tobacco, petroleum oils, newspapers and journals, and aircraft.
Certain goods require the trading company to obtain import and export permits from the government, as per Appendix II of Decree 187/2013/ND-CP. These include:
Goods subject to export control in accordance with international treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party
Goods exported within quotas set by foreign countries
Goods subject to import control in accordance with international treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party
Chemicals, explosive pre-substances and industrial explosives
All imports and exports must comply with the relevant government regulations on quarantine, food safety, and quality standards, and must be inspected by the relevant government agencies before clearing customs.
Most goods imported/exported across the borders of Vietnam, or which pass between the domestic market and a non-tariff zone, are subject to import/export duties. Exceptions to this include goods in transit, goods exported abroad from a non-tariff zone, goods imported from foreign countries into non-tariff areas for use in non-tariff areas only, and goods passing from one non-tariff zone to another.
Most goods and services being exported are exempt from tax. Export duties (ranging from zero percent to 45 percent and computed on free-on-board (FOB) price) are only charged on a few items, mainly natural resources such as minerals, forest products, and scrap metal.
Consumer goods, especially luxury goods, are subject to high import duties, while machinery, equipment, materials and supplies needed for production, especially those items which are not produced domestically, enjoy lower rates of import duties, or even a zero percent tax rate. Duty rates for imported goods include preferential rates, special preferential rates, and standard rates depending on the origin of the goods.
Import/export duties declarations are required upon registration of customs declarations with the customs offices. Export duties must be paid within 30 days of registration of customs declarations. For imported goods, import duties must be paid before receipt of consumer goods.
Depending on the trade conditions, Vietnam imposes a number of different types of duties on the import and export of goods. Companies wishing to find in-depth information on a range of goods would be well advised to visit the website of Vietnam Customs.
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