Import Requirement
Import Requirements and Documentation

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. 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. (See Trade Barriers for further detail.)

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.

Labeling and Marking Requirements

The Ministry of Science and Technology has the primary responsibility for coordinating with specialized management ministries in amending and supplementing compulsory contents of goods labels. On September 30, 2006, the Vietnamese Government issued Decree 89/2006/ND-CP, which became effective on March 13, 2007(Decree 89). Decree 89 and accompanying regulations provide the requirements for labeling goods produced in Vietnam for domestic circulation and for export, and of goods produced in foreign countries that are imported for sale in the Vietnamese market. These regulations do not apply to goods temporarily imported for re-export; goods temporarily imported for re-export after participation in fairs or exhibitions; transited goods, goods transported from border gate to border gate; gifts; presents; personal effects of persons on entry and exit; or moving property.

According to these regulations, subject goods must bear a label containing:

1. A principal display panel in which the following compulsory contents must be shown so that consumers can easily and clearly see them in a normal goods’ display condition:

  • Name of goods
  • Name and address of the organization or individual responsible for the goods
  • Origin of goods
  • Quantity
  • Date of manufacture
  • Expiry date
  • Ingredients or ingredient quantities
  • Hygiene and safety information, warnings
  • Instructions on use and preservation

2. An information section on the right-hand side of the principal display panel in which non- compulsory contents goods may be presented (as well as any compulsory contents which could not fit in the principal display panel) provided that the non-compulsory contents do not conceal or lead to the misunderstanding of the compulsory contents of labels.

The basic requirement of Decree 89 and accompanying regulations is that all letters, numbers, drawings, pictures, signs, and codes on labels of goods must be clear and must determine the substance of the goods. Any ambiguous labeling that causes confusion with other labels of goods is strictly prohibited.

Labels of domestically circulated goods must be presented in Vietnamese. If necessary, foreign language text may be included provided that it is in smaller print than the Vietnamese text. Labels of exported goods may be written in the language of the country or region into which such goods are imported, if so agreed in the contract for sale of the goods. In the case of imported goods, the compulsory contents in Vietnamese may be either printed on the original label or presented in a supplementary label attached to the original foreign language label prior to sale or circulation in the Vietnamese market.

The following acts constitute violations of the law regarding the labeling of goods:

  • Circulation of goods without the required labels
    • Labeling goods with pictures, figures, or writing that do not correspond to the nature of the goods
    • Labeling goods unclearly, or with labels so faint that normal eyes cannot read their contents
  • Labeling goods without including all required compulsory contents
    • Failing to meet guidelines for the correct size, position, method of presentation, or languages on labels
  • Erasing or amending the contents of labels of goods
  • Replacing labels of goods for the purpose of deceiving consumers
    • Using trademarks of goods already protected by law without the approval of their owners
    • Labeling goods in the same manner as those of other business entities, which have been protected by law

Prohibited and Restricted Imports

According to Government of Vietnam Decree No. 12/2006/ND-CP dated 23 January 2006 Vietnam currently prohibits the commercial importation of the following goods: military weapons, arms and ammunition, explosive materials (not including industrial explosives); firecrackers; second-hand consumer goods; reactionary, depraved or superstitious cultural products or those harmful to aesthetical or personality education; right-hand drive motor vehicles; used spare parts for vehicles, used internal combustion engines of less than 30 horsepower; discarded materials and waste; asbestos materials under the amphibole group; toxic Chemicals of Table 1 (under international treaties); narcotics; certain types of children’s toys; various encryption devices and encryption software; polluting waste and scrap; and refrigeration equipment using chlorofluorocarbons.

Restricted imports include imports subject to import licenses from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and are subject to special management and oversight by various ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism; Ministry of Information and Communications; The State Bank of Vietnam; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development; and others. U.S. exporters should confer with their Vietnamese customer, agent or distributor to determine whether an MOIT import license is required for their restricted goods.

Customs Regulations

Certain goods to be exported or imported must be inspected before being cleared at customs stations. The inspection covers quality, specifications, quantity, and volume. The inspection is based on Vietnamese standards, with the exception of pharmaceuticals, and should be carried out by an independent Vietnamese or foreign inspection organization. Imported goods subject to inspection include petroleum products, fertilizers, electronic and electrical products, food and drink, machinery and equipment, steel, and pharmaceuticals. This list may be altered from time to time. Imported pharmaceuticals, for example, must go through random lab tests on sample batches performed by Vietnamese officials. Since January 1998, all imported drugs must have instructions on product use, dosage, and expiration dates printed in Vietnamese and inserted in packages.



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