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.
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
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.
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.
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