The new Investment Law 2014 announced by Vietnam Government on December 26th, 2014 has come into effect on July 1st, 2015. The new law introduces changes which include more opening policies for foreign investors to establish and set-up businesses in Vietnam.
What makes foreign investors hesitate to invest and set-up business in Vietnam? The administrative problems and lack of transparency; the inconsistencies in implementing the principle of freedom to do business.
Theoretically, the new Investment Law 2014 will resolve the above mentioned issues by offering a faster amendment mechanism on registering changes or issuing the new Business Registration Certificate or Investment Certificate. Generally, the process and procedures are expected to become more straightforward and convenient for foreign owned companies compared with 2005 Investment Law and the 2005 Enterprise Law by reducing the volume of paper and the administrative works.
In conclusion, the 2014 Investment Law will help clear up some of the confusions that accompanied the 2005 Investment Law and the 2005 Enterprise Law and their application, as well as ease and simplify the foreign investment process which, it is hoped, will promote business activities and investment into Vietnam. The investment of foreign investor into a Vietnamese company in certain situations would be treated in the same manner as a domestic investor that provides an opportunity to offer clients creative structuring solutions to facilitate investment in Vietnam.
ANT Lawyers is a Vietnam law firm with international standards, recognized byIFLR1000 on Financial and Corporate practice. We are an exclusive Vietnam member of Prae Legal, the global law firm network covering more than 150 jurisdictions. The firm provides a range of legal services as following to multinational and domestic clients.
Foreigners are encouraged to make investment in Vietnam through direct investment by setting up company in Vietnam.
However there are restrictions in some cases in regard to investment capital, investment area, special licenses required. The investor is suggested to consult with a law firm in Vietnam for advice and service offering.
Before setting up business in Vietnam, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Which business should I invest in Vietnam? There are non-conditional investment areas and conditional investment areas. Establishing company in the non-conditional investement areas are more simple than in conditional investment areas. Investment in IT services, manufacturing, management consulting, business promotion are a few samples of non-conditional investment areas. Example of conditional investment areas are real estate, trading, travel agencies, freight forwarding…which are more complicated with investment conditions. Investment conditions might also be changed over the time depending on the WTO commitments which Vietnam enters.
2. What should I name the business in Vietnam? The company in Vietnam has to have Vietnamese name, and English name. The company could also have abbreviated name. The name of the company in Vietnam indicates the structure of the company, the business lines, and the name that differentiate against other businesses. For instance, the company could be named Alpha consulting limited liability company.
3. Where should I register the address of the business in Vietnam? Not every address could be used to register a company. The address has to be an address of a house with leasing agreement or office building which owner has license to operate as office building.
4. What is the legal structure of the company? Depending on the number of investor contributing capital, company could be set-up as one member limited liability company or two ore more member limited liability company or joint stocks company.
5. How much capital is required to set-up a company in Vietnam? The investment amount depends on the business plan and is subject to the approval of the provincial Department of Planning and Investment evaluating application dossier. In some business areas like real estate, banking and finance, minimum capital is required. In general for non-conditional investment area, the law does not specify the minimum capital to establish a company in Vietnam however the State agencies that evaluate investment plan could reject the investment project which are not feasible. Bank statement in foreign banks could be used to prove sufficient fund of investment capital.
6. Whom will be legal representative and work permit in Vietnam? The investor will need to appoint the legal representative in Vietnam to oversee the business performance and take legal responsibility in Vietnam. If the legal representative is an expatriate, whom is a capital contributing member or owner of a limited liability company or a member of the Board of Management of a shareholding company which is registered to operate in Vietnam, he or she will be exempted from work permit in Vietnam. Otherwise, he or she will need to have a work permit to work in Vietnam legally. The work permit holder would then apply for temporary residence card to live in Vietnam as long as the work permit allows.
7. How long does it take to set-up a company in Vietnam? It depends on what type, scale, and whether or not conditions are required. For a simple minimum capital without conditions to set-up, it would take 30 working days. For setting up company in conditional investment areas i.e. trading company in Vietnam, time would be lengthen due to the involvement of a number of State agencies approving the investment project and it would take 60 working days. For setting up company in other investments in areas requiring conditions to meet, time might be taken depending on the type of conditions and the government agencies evaluating the conditions of investment.
8. Whom will be granting the investment license in Vietnam? For most of the investment projects, the provincial state agencies with the approval of the Department of Planning and Investment (DPI) will be granting the Investment Certificate in Vietnam. However, depending on the type, scale, and whether or not conditions are required, other Vietnam State agencies might be involved. For the case of trading company, ministry of trade and commerce, ministry of finance, provincial people’s committee will be reviewing the investment application dossier as well.
9. What are the tax liability in Vietnam? Major taxes in Vietnam are corporate income tax, import and export tax, value added tax, and personal income tax in Vietnam. In some special areas, there are other taxes. The corporate income tax is currently at 22% and will reduce to 20% beginning 2016. Export is mostly encouraged as such the export tax is 0 however there are special cases when export tax is larger than 0. Import tax varies according to tariff. Value added tax is mostly at 10% however in some cases, VAT could be 5% or 0%. Personal Income tax varies according to income level and is applicable from VND 9,000,000 above.
10. What are mandatory reports submissions requirement in Vietnam? Companies are required to keep accounting books, prepare and submit tax reports on monthly, quarterly and annually. Foreign companies are also required to have financial audit taken before the financial year end. The financial year in Vietnam is from January to December and the deadline to submit financial report is March 30th for the previous year. Other reports are required to be submitted at other State agencies.
At ANT Lawyers, a law firm in Vietnam with offices in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, we are always capable to assist clients in licensing and post-licensing matters to help clients with all questions and services in setting up and maintaining the company in Vietnam. We could be reached at email: firstname.lastname@example.org or office tel: +848 35202779.
ANT Lawyers is a Vietnam law firm with international standards, recognized by Legal500, IFLR1000. We are an exclusive Vietnam member of Prae Legal, the global law firm network covering more than 150 jurisdictions. The firm provides a range of legal services as following to multinational and domestic clients.
Permits for establishment of Vietnam-based branches of foreign enterprise shall each have a valid term of five years.
Foreign enterprise must choose between establishing a 100% foreign capital enterprise or forming a joint-venture with domestic investor or company.
The Branch office needs to apply and obtain the operation license of a Branch;
A foreign owned company will need to apply and obtain the investment certificate (“IC”) to operate in Vietnam.
Optional, foreign entity will decide how much money to invest in branch. The allocation capital for branch is capital for the subordinate units.
Mandatory, foreign entity will need to provide minimum capital as required by Vietnam Law in conditional investment area.
Obligation of owner
For branch office in Vietnam, owner takes full responsibility;
For company, owner takes responsibility within the capital contributed into the company in Vietnam;
For branch office setting up in Vietnam, the procedure is less complicated compared to those for the establishment of a 100% foreign owned company; the branch office is able to carry out trading and some other activities as stipulated by Vietnam laws and the WTO commitments which Vietnam enters. The business lines of a branch have to be aligned with the business lines of the headquarter of the foreign entity.
Setting up foreign owned company would be more complicated than the setting up of the branch office, however this form of investment has more flexibility and freedom as it is a stand alone Vietnam entity recognized under Vietnam laws.
Investment projects in Vietnam could be evaluated and approved for business setting-up at top level of the government, at ministerial levels or at the provincial levels.
The licensing authorities for business setting up in Vietnam has been divided to distribute workloads at different state agencies with aim to speed up the process and attract more quality investment projects in Vietnam.
In practice, the process for establishing companies or executing investment projects in Vietnam would take from one month for simple project, three to six month for areas categorized under conditional investment areas, requiring sub-licenses, or additional time for more complicated projects. At the provincial levels, there might be inconsistency between cities and provinces due to different interpretation of laws. For investment project with difficulty to manage, the provincial levels would need to consult with technical department of central government agencies, as such the time taken to process the investment certificate would be lengthen.
Understanding the mechanism and the work division of Vietnam authorities that evaluate and approve business licensing at different government agencies would help foreign investors to smoothen the process and improve their experience in Vietnam.
It is notable that, the government level will be focusing on significant projects, in special area at large investment capital with impact on social economic situations. Most of the investment licensing procedures will be carried out at the provincial levels where the investment projects exist.
The following will point out directions for foreigners to approach respective agencies based on the particular area of interests, scale, and nature of the investment. However, to avoid delay and increase effectiveness, it is advisable that the foreign clients would consult with Vietnam law firms to help advise and represent them in preparing and executing the investment in Vietnam.
I. Projects evaluated and granted investment licensing at government level
Depending on the business nature, industry sector, investment scale, and investment policy, the Vietnam Prime Minister, on behalf of the government will evaluate and approve investment licensing for setting up business.
1. The investment project in Vietnam the government will evaluate and approve regardless of funding, the scale of investment are in the following areas:
a) Development and commercialization of airports and air transport; b) Development and commercialization of national port; c) Exploration, mining and processing of oil and gas; exploration and exploitation of minerals; d) Radio, television; e) Casino; f) Production of cigarettes; g) Establishment of university level educational institute; h) Establishment of industrial zones, export processing zones, high-tech zones and economic zones.
2. Although investment projects which do not fall under the cases listed above, but the government of Vietnam also evaluates and approves investment project with investment capital of VND 1,500 billion (around USD 75 mil) upwards regardless of funding and in the following areas:
a) Sales of electricity, mineral processing, metallurgical; b) Construction of railway infrastructure, roads, inland waterways; c) Production, sales of wine and beer.
3. Further, the government of Vietnam also evaluates and approve investment projects with foreign investment in the following areas:
a) Maritime transport; b) Establishment of networks and provision of postal services, courier, telecommunication and internet; network setup and signal transmission; c) Printing and distribution of newspapers; publication; d) Establishment of independent scientific research.
4. Where the investment projects specified in the above cases are in the plan which the Prime Minister has approved or authorized other agencies to approve, and that the investment projects meet the conditions prescribed by law and treaties to which Vietnam Nam is a member, the agency granted investment certificates perform the procedure for issuance of investment certificates is not required to submit to the Prime Minister to decide on the investment policy.
5. Where the investment projects specified in the above case is not in the plan which has been approved by the Vietnam Prime Minister or authorized other agency to approve, and that the projects do not meet the conditions for market access provisions in international treaties which Vietnam is a member, the agency granted investment certificates shall consult with other of relevant industries and submit to the Prime Minister for investment policy decision.
II. Projects evaluated and granted investment licensing at ministerial level
1. The Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment shall evaluate and approve licensing for investment projects in the form of BOT, BTO, BT.
2. Other ministries will be evaluating and granting license for investment in some sectors.
a.Vietnam Ministry of Commerce and Industry shall evaluate and approve licensing for investment project in oil and gas sector;
b. Vietnam State Bank shall grant licensing for financial institutions;
c. Vietnam Ministry of Finance shall be responsible for issuing license for investment project of insurance business.
III. Projects evaluated and granted investment licensing at provincial levels
1. Department of Planning and Investment shall be the single point of contact that receive the application and evaluate the investment plan of the foreign investors wishing to establish business in Vietnam for projects
a. Outside of Industrial Zone, Industrial Processing Zone;
b. Infrastructure development project for Industrial Zone, Industrial Processing Zone which management board of industrial zone and industrial processing zone are not yet established.
2. The management board of Industrial Zone, and Industrial Processing Zone:
a. For investment projects within the Industrial Zone, and Industrial Processing Zone which are not under the authority of the Prime Minister;
b. Infrastructure development project to for industrial zone and industrial processing zone.
Investment in setting up trading company in Vietnam is considered as investment in conditional investment areas
Once an underdeveloped country, in the last two decades Vietnam has shown an incredible growth in the world economic scene, especially in the criteria of investment attraction. For a foreign company that is interested in expanding the business in a new country or region, Vietnam is a promising destination. In order to start a company or specifically a trading company in Vietnam, foreign investor should comprehensively understand the formality and function of the legal entity to be formed according to Vietnam Law. The consultancy and guidance of skilled and qualified lawyers in Vietnam law firm throughout the process shall mostly be needed.
Set-up Trading Company in Vietnam
The legal basis for a foreign company to set up a company in Vietnam is stated in the Enterprise Law of Vietnam: foreign organizations and individuals will be entitled to establish and manage enterprises in Vietnam in accordance with this law, with some exceptions. Foreign investors may invest in the form of 100% foreign- owned capital to establish limited liability companies, joint-stock companies, partnerships or private enterprises under the provisions of the Enterprise Law and relevant laws.
The foreign investor shall mostly needs to fulfill the investment registration procedures at provincial-level state agencies in charge of investment in order to be granted the investment certificates, in accordance with Vietnam law in investment. The dossier required for the investment registration shall comprise of an examination dossier, papers showing the capability to satisfy the conditions which the project is required by law to satisfy, for investment projects in conditional investment domains i.e. specific goods to be traded at HS code level, experience in trading area, how the trading procedures would be carried out, potential business in Vietnam.
In particular, for investment capital, it should be noted that, trading company needs to commit larger investment in terms of capital, since its function is to identify competitive suppliers, negotiate and purchase their products and sell them through a distribution network in Vietnam. In the meantime, the investor needs to have experience in trading to run the business smoothly and efficiently. The investor should explain why the company would contribute to the development in Vietnam when applying for investment license at Department of Planning and Investment, and Ministry of Trade and Commerce.
Our lawyers of foreign investment practice at ANT Lawyers are available to advise and provide client with service and representation in Vietnam.
Foreign investors may invest in the form of 100% capital to establish a limited liability company, joint stock company, partnership company or other forms in investment in Vietnam.
Foreign investors that invest in Vietnam for the first time must have investment projects and fill in investment registration or examination procedures at state agencies in charge of investment in order to be granted investment registration certificates. Investment certificates shall concurrently be business registration certificates. Company with 100% foreign capital has founded and operated from the date of issuance of the investment certificate.
Registration/Request for issuance of Investment Certificate;
A report on financial capability of the investor;
Draft of the company’s charter;
List of members of company: a) copy of the people’s identity card, passport or other lawful personal certification, for individual members; b) copy of the establishment decision, business registration certificate or other equivalent document, for member organizations; copies of the authorization document, the people’s identity card, passport or other lawful personal certification, for authorized representatives. Copies of the business registration certificates of the foreign member organizations must be authenticated within three months before the date of submission of the business registration dossier by agencies where such organizations are registered;
Written authorization of the investor in case investor is organization and valid copy of the lawful personal certification of the authorized representative. Documents in foreign languages must be translated into Vietnamese, notarized and legalized;
The joint-venture contract or Business Cooperation Contract (BCC);
Other documents required by Vietnam law.
The establishment of a company in Vietnam would take from 30 days. The extra time might be needed in case theinvestment area is conditional or the State government needs to examine the investment project. Minimum capital, special licenses or other conditions might be required in certain investment projects.
At ANT Lawyers, a law firm in Vietnam with law offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, we are available to assist clients in establishing foreign owned company in Vietnam. We could be reached at email: email@example.com or office tel: +84 912 817 823.