In November 2018, imports to Vietnam reached an all-time high of 22 billion in one month since 1990, according to Trading Economics. It is not a surprise as many sectors in Vietnam heavily rely on imported goods.
This article explains how you can also import goods to Vietnam, what are the import taxes and describes the process of setting up an import company in Vietnam.
Note that Vietnam’s import regulations tend to change often and we will update the article as these changes take effect. The latest revisions are from April 2019.
How to import to Vietnam
To be able to import goods to Vietnam, you must first have an established and registered import company in Vietnam.
Therefore, if your import company is interested in entering Vietnam, you need to set up an import (and distribution) company in Vietnam as well.
There are a few things you need to think through before you can start importing your goods to Vietnam:
- Will you conduct import only or is the distribution of the products necessary as well?
- Are you going to sell wholesale (B2B) or directly to consumers (B2C)?
- What products are you going to import?
- For e-commerce businesses in Vietnam, website notification is necessary
- Register the products with relevant authorities, if necessary
- Find distributors, if needed (optional)
The latest change regarding import companies in Vietnam is that previously, foreign investors were also required to have prior experience in trading business before they could register an import company in Vietnam. From now on, you no longer need to have experience in trading to set up an import company in Vietnam.
However, if you are going to conduct retail sales in Vietnam, i.e., sell goods directly to consumers, you also need a trading license for which you must submit a business plan and a financial plan to prove the sustainability of your company.
Emerhub can assist you in composing these documents. All you need to do is provide us with the necessary information, and we will take care of the rest.
Setting up an import company in Vietnam
#1 Investment license
Firstly, to establish an import company in Vietnam, the founders must obtain an investment license from the Department of Planning and Investment.
It is necessary to submit the complete product list together with the application and register each of the items separately with HS codes.
You can register additional products after the company registration process is over. However, make sure to list all the items you intend to import immediately after the company is registered.
Prohibited products in Vietnam
The items that you wish to import cannot fall under the prohibited or limited product list. Circular No. 34/2013/TT-BCT of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (December 24, 2013) brings out the list of goods not permitted to import. Some of the products you are forbidden to import are:
- Newspapers, journals, and periodicals
- Aircraft and spacecraft vehicles
- Used consumer goods such as clothes, clothes, electronic appliances, medical equipment, home appliances
Some products require additional registration with state authority. For example, you must register cosmetics products with the Health Department (Drug Administration Vietnam) which will take place after the company registration but before any trading can start.
#2 Business registration certificate
The second step of the company registration is to apply for a business registration certificate. The Department of Planning and Investment will issue the license and, your company will be established. The founders have 90 days to make the capital contribution.
After the registration, the newly-established company has 30 days to pay the business license tax (approximately USD 90 per year), set up a tax reporting system and obtain VAT invoices. Emerhub’s accounting team can take care of this for you.
Setting up a company in Vietnam can take up to 6 weeks, including the preparation of the necessary documents and communication with the authorities. Emerhub will assist you in collecting the relevant documents and will also communicate with the state authorities on your behalf.
Read more on how to set up a company in Vietnam.
#3 Trading license in Vietnam
Lastly, before entering the Vietnamese trading market, all foreign trading companies that engage in retail sales must also receive a trading license from the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam.
Note that, at a minimum, it takes six weeks to obtain a trading license in Vietnam.
Minimum capital requirement for an import company in Vietnam
There is no minimum capital requirement for establishing an import company in Vietnam. However, the minimum capital must comply with revenues and expenses and the founder should consider the following factors:
- are the products sold wholesale or is a retail outlet also required
- is the transport expensive
- does the company need a storage place
If you are looking not only to import but to distribute the products as well, you need to register that business line too when applying for the investment license.
Also, keep in mind that as you need to inject the capital before applying for the trading license, you must have sufficient funds already during incorporation. Otherwise, the whole process will be delayed.
Read more about the minimum capital requirement in Vietnam.
How to import to Vietnam without an import company – via an importer of record
The process of acquiring all the necessary documents for importing to Vietnam may take up to 2 months or more, depending on the products and the size of the capital. Therefore, it might not be the most optimal market entry strategy.
If you wish to start importing sooner or don’t want to set up a company in Vietnam, there is another way for doing so – by using an importer of record service (IOR).
In fact, setting up a company when you can outsource service is one of the seven common mistakes foreign investors make when entering Vietnam.
The main benefits of using an importer of record in Vietnam is that it exempts you from registering a company, obtaining licenses and dealing with customs. Your goods will be imported using local distributors who already have the required permits.
Therefore, the import can start immediately, no need to wait for the paperwork. Emerhub can import your goods using our licenses. We will save you the trouble and also find the right distributors who have the necessary supply chains and experience in the local market.
All you have to do is send us:
- List of the HS codes together with the descriptions and pictures of the goods and their intended use
- The total volume of the shipment in kilograms
- Packing list (weight, dimension, total weight) as soon as available
- The total value of the consignment in USD
- Invoice as soon as possible
To use Emerhub’s importer of record service, contact us via the form below or send us an email to [email protected].
Import taxes in Vietnam
Most goods imported to Vietnam are liable to duty. Depending on the product, import taxes in Vietnam vary in different ranges.
Imported goods are subject to:
- Import tax
- Value-added tax
- Special consumption tax (SCT) – for products classified as luxury items
- Environment protection tax (EPT) – for products that harm the environment
How to calculate import taxes in Vietnam
To demonstrate the import tax calculation, we have provided some simple formulas, and illustrative examples in our previous article on how to calculate import tax and duty in Vietnam, import duty calculator included.
However, if you have any further questions regarding import to Vietnam, contact us via the form below. Our consultants will be happy to assist you in registering your import company in Vietnam