[2021 update] 4 major steps to start a trading company in Vietnam

[2021 update] 4 major steps to start a trading company in Vietnam

For those who are planning to set up a company in Vietnam to start a trading business, this legal guide will serve as a good starting point.

Step 1. Incorporate a trading company

Either a foreign company or a foreigner can apply to establish a trading company in Vietnam. However, the paper works for individuals are simpler.

Here are 3 basic requirements for a Vietnam company registration:
- Having a legal status. Individual investors must have a PASSPORT. Corporate investors will be required to provide its CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION in the origin country.
- Having a physical address in Vietnam. At the registration stage, a leasing contract of office is a compulsory part of the application dossier.
- Having financial ability to run the business in Vietnam, proved by a personal bank statement or financial statements of 2 latest fiscal years.


Minimum registered capitals: from $50,000 (based on our observation). Although there is no minimum registered capital requirement, the capital should be enough to cover business expenses until the company is able to generate positive cash flow. In practice, proposed registered capital contributions will be closely examined by the licensing authority to assess whether the amount is enough to keep the company running after establishment.

Scope of trading activities: import, export, wholesale and retail distribution of goods in accordance with regulations of Vietnam

Registration timeline: the licensing process often takes from 1 month upon application dossier submission date. Results for a Vietnam trading company establishment include of an Investment Registration Certificate and an Enterprise Registration Certificate.

For detailed information, refer to Vietnam company registration guide

Vietnam company registration legal service

Step 2. Register with Vietnam Customs

All importers and exporters must activate their VNACCS (Vietnam Automated Cargo And Port Consolidated System) account by an USB token with Vietnam Customs before performing import/export activity. It generally takes 24-48 working hours for your account to be activated.

Link:  https://www.customs.gov.vn/home.aspx?language=en-US

Step 3. Apply for licenses and approvals

- For retail business:

Before performing retail business, the company shall apply for a Retail Business License with provincial Department of Industrial and Trade. Theory, the licensing process takes around 10 working days. The company that plans to open a retail store, in addition, must apply for a Store Establishment License. The process might be time-consuming and “painful” since it will be subject for Economic needs testing (ENT), a test that conditions market access upon the fulfillment of certain economic criteria.

For a specific product:

In general, a trading company can import, export and wholesale MOST KIND OF PRODUCTS. But for some conditional products, the importer needs to get prior approvals of management authority before importing. For example, before importing functional, supplement foods or cosmetics, the importers must be announced of regulation conformity and registration of regulation conformity announcement at the Department of Food Safety - Ministry of Health.

Step 4. Apply for C/O in the exporting country

Currently, Vietnam is a contracting party of many FTAs such as EVFTA, VKFTA or ASEAN, which provide a lot of favorable tariffs for import and export business. If the imported products are produced in a country which exists a FTA with Vietnam, the imported should apply for C/O (certificate of origin) in the origin country to enjoy preferential tariffs for goods when entering Vietnam.

How can Nova Law assist you?

Looking for a lawyer service to set up your Vietnamese company? Nova Law delights to assist the foreign investors during their path of doing business in Vietnam. Why Nova Law?

- Well-experienced lawyers with years working on foreign investment consulting, have been cooperating with a wide range of clients: from multinational corporations, factories, service companies, to small startups;
- Professional service quality, with high standards in detailed works and professional ethics;
- Vietnamese lawyers who are familiar with Vietnamese laws on investment and corporate, and always maintained strong relationships with the ministries and provincial authorities. So as the licensing process or consulting for difficult cases will be conducted more smoothly.
Nova Lawyers team
Our scope of work includes:
scope of work for Vietnam company set up
With many years of experience in corporate services, our lawyers will assist you and provide advice in setting up your business. You can save a lot of time and enjoy good services at a reasonable price.


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