A personal or professional opportunity makes you move to Vietnam? You fell in love with the country and wish to spend your retreat here? Each expat in Vietnam has its own story and its own motivation, that brought him in. For a relocation from or to Vietnam, FNM Vietnam can accompany you during all the phases of your moving. For the packing, the warehousing, the transfer and the customs clearance, our experts are here to assist you. Thanks to our experience in relocation in Vietnam, we wrote down this article in order to answer the recurrent questions we’re receiving. You can also contact us for more details on this subject. 

1) What you should know before all relocation in Vietnam

It is advised to send your personal belongings at least 5 weeks before your arrival. Because the customs clearance will inevitably be made with your presence, it will begin once you’re arrived. The customs clearance is generally done within a week, but there is a delay of approximately one month before your personal effects will be considered. If you’re importing your personal vehicle, this delay will be extended.

The inventory you will write for customs authorities must be extremely precise on the content you’re moving, and must provide photos ideally.

Because your passport will be required for the clearance, it will not be yours for a few days. Hence, it is advised to do your formalities and administrative procedures, like the opening of a bank account in Vietnam, before the customs clearance.


2) Import personal effects in Vietnam

Details must be clearly written on the inventory and the cartons.


2.1) What are the necessary documents to import your personal effects?

If you want to import personal belongings during your relocation in Vietnam, a precise list of documents will be asked upon your arrival. These documents are:

  • A copy of the ID page of your passport
  • A copy of the page of your passport, containing your entry visa stamped
  • A detailed inventory compiling all the goods you’re entering, (written in English or Vietnamese)
  • The Bill of Lading (or Airway Bill) of your personal belongings
  • Your Vietnamese visa valid at least for three months, or the temporary residency card
  • The boarding card of your entrance flight into Vietnam
  • If you’re employed by a company, the employment letter and a copy of the company license
  • If you’re an entrepreneur, a copy of your company license
  • A copy of your work permit
  • An applying letter
  • Your personal address in Vietnam


2.2) Your documents’ validity requirements

All the documents detailed above must be signed and stamped by the employer of the owner of the personal belongings. For each shipment, each document must be provided in triplicate.


2.3) Specificities depending on where you’re settling in Vietnam

In Hanoi, customs are requiring a copy of the work contract, in addition of the other documents. A compliance certificate will be asked for your entry visa and your temporary residence card. This can be obtained by bringing the original documents to the Desk of the popular committee of Hanoi.

In HCMV, all the photocopies must be certified compliant. Like in Hanoi, the original documents must be brought to the desk of the popular committee.


2.4) Physical and cultural inspection of your personal belongings

If your personal belongings are transferred in Vietnam by air freight, they will be inevitably physically inspected by customs at the airport terminal. If they are transferred by ocean freight, they may be physically inspected. The physical inspection of your goods coming by air freight will last 2 days at most, while it will last between 2-3 days for a full container (FCL), and between 3 to 5 days for LCL shipment.

All the cargoes are undergoing a cultural inspection. This procedure is generally lasting between 3 to 4 days. Books, artworks, DVDs, CDs, and antiques will be screened. All the artworks having a cultural, artistic or ideologic purposes will be screened.

The antiques you’re importing must be clearly taken in photo and documented. They will be inspected and registered at your entrance. This procedure can last 2-3 days.

The personal belongings of diplomatic persons will not be inspected.

2.5) What are the applicable import taxes for an import of alcohol or tobacco as personal effects?

For beverages containing alcohol, import taxes will be paid according to the type of beverage:

  • Alcohols under or above 30° (wines excluded) are taxed at rates of 125% and 150%
  • Wines are exempted of taxes, if you’re importing less than 20 bottles. Above this quantity, they will be taxed between 125-150%

For tobacco, import taxes are applied with the following:

  • Above 100 cigars, they will be taxed at a 150% rate
  • Above 400 cigarettes, they will be taxed as high as 150% rate
  • All other tobacco products will be taxed at a 45% rate


2.6) What are the other taxed personal effects during a relocation to Vietnam?

Personal computers and printers will be taxed as high as 10%.

Non-perishable food, canned food and all long-term food products can only be imported in small quantities. 

2.7) What are the objects that you cannot import?

  • Weapons and ammunitions
  • Explosives
  • Military equipment
  • Radio transmitters
  • Satellites
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Anti-government objects
  • Fireworks
  • Dangerous or abmoral games
  • Pronographic or subversive content
  • Motorcycle


3) Import your personal vehicle in Vietnam

3.1) What you need to know at first

First you should know that only diplomats, people with Vietnamese origins and foreigners working in Vietnam can import a vehicle. Not all types of vehicles can be imported, except if you’re working for the United Nations, an embassy or a consulate under diplomatic status. Only diplomats can import their vehicle free of tax. People that are staying in Vietnam for tourism, or for a short period, cannot import their vehicles. 2nd hand vehicles of more than 5 years cannot be imported also.

Several procedures need to be done, once the vehicle is arrived in the Vietnamese territory:

  1. At the customs office, you should ask for an import license for your vehicle
  2. At the port where your vehicle is, you must complete the required customs procedures
  3. You must pay the taxes and duties inherent to your vehicle at the tax office. You can retrieve your vehicle at the port after
  4. Then comes the registration of your vehicle, that needs to be done at the police office in charge of the road traffic. An appointment date will be scheduled so you can retrieve the vehicle registration certificate. This step is one of the longest, it will be longer if it’s a second-hand vehicle.

  5. Once you have the vehicle registration certificate, the technical control of the vehicle must be done at the technical control office.


3.2) What are the required documents for a vehicle import in Vietnam?

  • Your original passport
  • A residency card
  • An ownership proofs
  • The original invoice of the purchase of the vehicle

4) Bring your pets to Vietnam

To bring your pet with you in Vietnam, you must constitute a file containing:

  • The passport of the owner of the pets
  • The vaccination book
  • The entry visa of the owner, valid 3 months at least
  • The vaccination certificate against rabies
  • The health book of the pet
  • The import permit
  • The international health certificate delivered by the veterinary authority in your country
  • The flight tickets of the animal and its owner in triplicate

This file must be brought to the animal health control office of the airport of arrival. Of course, you must send it before your arrival in Vietnam. The import permit is delivered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation. The quarantine for animals travelling in hold isn’t required. Animals must arrive from Monday to Friday, before 3:30 pm.


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