Authorized Importers: As outlined in GVN Decree No. 57/1998/ND-CP, partly revised by Decree No. 44/2001/ND-CP, dated August 2, 2001, Vietnamese traders are entitled to (i) export goods of all kinds, except goods on the list of those banned from export and (ii) import goods according to the business lines stated in their business registration certificates. Foreign-invested enterprises and business cooperation parties, apart from the exportation of their own products, may export goods of other kinds, except those on the list of goods banned from export and a number of goods categories restricted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT).
The goods imported by foreign-invested enterprises and business cooperation parties must comply with the provisions of their granted investment licenses, the Law on Foreign Investment in Vietnam and other relevant legal documents.
Import Licensing System: Business entities, including foreign invested enterprises with a legally registered business license, may be engaged in direct import and export activities.
However, foreign invested enterprises can import materials, equipment and machinery only for the purpose of establishing production lines and producing goods in accordance with their investment licenses. Under Vietnam’s WTO commitments, trading rights are now opened to all foreign invested enterprises. Vietnam introduced an automatic import licensing system in 2008, which requires importers of a wide category of goods to obtain a license from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) to get their goods through Customs. Licenses must be issued within five working days and are truly automatic, in that none are turned down. The latest list of goods includes mostly consumer goods like cosmetics, kitchen and house appliances, furniture, cell phones and automobiles. Distribution rights for these entities are opened to joint venture investment with no limit on capital contribution, and since 1/1/2009 have been opened to wholly foreign invested enterprises.
Special Import/Export Requirements and Certifications: Seven ministries and agencies are responsible for overseeing a system of minimum quality/performance standards for animal and plant protection, health safety, local network compatibility (in the case of telecommunications), money security, and cultural sensitivity. Goods that meet the minimum standards can be imported upon demand and in unlimited quantity and value.