Vietnam became the 150th member of the World Trade Organisation (WHO) in 2007. This opened the door for foreigners to invest and operate businesses in Vietnam. Individuals and organisations are allowed to choose their area of investment, the structure of their business and the method by which capital is raised, as long as their choices are in compliance with Vietnamese law, international treaties and commitments.
Opening a foreign-owned business in Vietnam is possible and even encouraged by the Vietnamese government, although the laws are complex and the process can be complicated. Modern business law is in its infancy in Vietnam. Laws and regulations may be incomplete, ambiguous and subject to conflicting interpretations by different government agencies. Having the help of an experienced and well-connected Vietnamese law firm is highly recommended.
Foreigners are permitted to own and operate their own businesses in Vietnam, either through indirect or direct foreign investment. Indirect investment can be made by individuals or organisations that can buy shares in Vietnamese firms or invest through stocks, investment funds or use other intermediate financial instruments. Businesses that are wholly foreign-owned or are participating in joint ventures with a Vietnamese business are considered to be direct foreign investments.
There are many foreign-owned small businesses in Vietnam, as well as a growing presence of international firms and franchises.
There are three business structures available for those who want to open a business in Vietnam. The business may be:
Vietnam encourages foreign investment in certain sectors, including:
Not all businesses are open to foreign participation, including those in any sector that may have an adverse effect on:
People wanting to establish a new business in Vietnam are required to produce several specific legal documents. These include a valid personal identity card or passport, as well as papers proving financial solvency.
A foreign enterprise wanting to set up an office or factory in Vietnam must provide the following documents:
Although money can be moved into Vietnam, it must be deposited into either a Vietnamese-based foreign currency bank account or be converted into Vietnamese dong. There are significant restrictions governing the movement of money out of the country. Money may only be transferred out of Vietnam if it falls into one of these categories: