Doing Business in Vietnam

Vietnam lies at the eastern tip of the Indochina Peninsula, on the western shores of the South China Sea. Vietnam is the world’s 14th-most populous country, with an estimated population of over 92.7 million. Although isolated from the global economy through most of the 20th century, in the 1980s reforms opened Vietnam up to international business interest and since 2000 it has experienced dramatic growth. Today, Vietnam is a member of the World Trade Organisation and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group, and trades with partners across the world, including China, Japan, Australia, the United States, and Europe. Vietnam’s economy has been historically based on agriculture, but its growth is being driven by the industrial, manufacturing and service sectors. In the 21st century, the high technology manufacturing and information technology industries have become more important to the Vietnamese economy, along with domestic oil production. Various tax incentives are available to businesses wishing to set up in Vietnam, while ongoing government reforms are stimulating investment - a trend reflected by numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with regional partners and the European Union.

Why Invest in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s growing economy holds a variety of interesting investment opportunities:

  • Economic growth: In 2015, Vietnam’s GDP grew by around 6.7% - its strongest performance in 7 years. In 2008, PWC predicted Vietnam would become the world’s fastest-growing emerging economy by 2025. Research by HSBC in 2012 suggested that, by 2050, Vietnam’s GDP would surpass that of Norway, Singapore and Portugal.
  • Labour force: The demographic makeup of Vietnam is very favourable to business, with around 60% of its population of working age, and 50% under the age of 30. Vietnam’s literacy rate is over 90%, while a growing middle class supports its domestic consumer markets.

  • Political stability: Vietnam’s government is engaged in ongoing efforts to make the country more favourable to business investment - including the overhaul of legal frameworks to enhance fairness and competitiveness. As a single party state, Vietnam’s legal and political landscapes offer consistency and stability.

  • Strategic location: Vietnam offers its businesses strategic access to markets across Asia, including Japan, China and Malaysia. Shipping lanes from Vietnam into the South China Sea account for around 40% of all global trade, while road and rail links connect to commercial hubs across the continent.

  • Low costs: Vietnam’s low wage rates, and cheap manufacturing costs are driving investment into the country - with large, international organisations like Samsung, LG and Nestle all announcing multi-million dollar projects in 2016.  

Foreign Direct Investment in Vietnam

As a member of the World Trading Organisation ('WTO'), Vietnam has made significant efforts to ensure that foreign investors are not disadvantaged compared to their local counterparts.  When other markets were foundering during the economic downturn, Vietnam posted strong growth, and was recently listed as the fastest-growing economy among emerging markets.

Starting A Company in Vietnam

Vietnam is boosting international trade, investors and multinationals.  Companies from all over the world are looking to do business in Vietnam.  The exceptional standing of 140 years history in this dynamic, fast-paced market is most likely what encourages trade in Vietnam.

Requirements for new company establishment in Vietnam:

  • Labour Registration

  • Compulsory Insurance Registration

  • Tax (Personal Income Tax - PIT) Registration (If Any)

Business Banking in Vietnam

In Vietnam it is not mandatory to make payments to employees or authorities from an in-country bank account.

Working Days and Working Hours in Vietnam

The working week in Vietnam is Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm.  There are no statutory provisions that prescribe maximum working hours.  The EO does however provide that in addition to paid statutory (public) holidays, an employee is entitled to no less than one rest day in every period of seven days.

Basic Facts about Vietnam

General Information

Vietnam lies at the western edge of the South China Sea, and is bordered by China and Laos to the north and northwest, and Cambodia to the west. Long considered an important trade destination, thanks to its maritime links to the rest of the continent, Vietnam grew over several centuries to become a powerful empire, but went through periods of colonization in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Vietnam was unified as a communist state in 1975, a development which saw it isolated on the world stage until the mid-eighties, when political reforms opened the country back up to the world. Thanks to Vietnam’s tropical location, it has become a popular tourist destination, with domestic environments ranging from mountains and highlands, to dense forests and rivers, and including a vast amount of biodiversity.

Full Name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Population: 93.40 million (UN, 2015)

Capital: Hanoi

Major Language: Vietnamese

Major Religion: Non-Religious, Buddhism

Monetary unit: Vietnamese dong

Main exports:  Paddy Rice, Coffee, Rubber, Cotton, Tea, Pepper, Soybeans, Cashews

Internet domain: .vn

International dialling code: +84

Hello chào

Good morning Chào buổi sáng

Good evening tốt buổi tối

Do you speak English? Bạn có nói tiếng Anh không

Good bye tạm biệt

Thank you cảm ơn bạn

See you later gặp anh sau

Vietnam Income & Tax Social Security

Vietnam’s tax year runs from 01 January to 31 December, while its tax system operates using a graduated scale. Taxpayers are categorised as ‘residents’ - who pay tax on income from Vietnam and overseas, and ‘nonresidents’ - who pay tax only on income originating from Vietnam.

Vietnam imposes three types of social security: health, social and unemployment insurance. Employees and employers both make social security contributions, up to a maximum threshold of 14.600.000 dong. Employees contracted for less than three months must pay social security contributions to the tax authority themselves. 

Income Tax in Vietnam

Vietnam taxes individuals on their worldwide income using a graduated tax scale.  Resident foreign citizens must declare all of their income, regardless of whether the income originates from a Vietnamese source or from Overseas.

Social Security in Vietnam

There are three types of mandatory social security in Vietnam: social insurance, health insurance and unemployment insurance.  For employees working under an employment contract that is less than three months in duration, the social insurance contribution amount will be included in their salary, and the employees will be responsible for paying their own social insurance or other insurance.

For Compulsory insurance:

Employee contributes: -

  • Social insurance (SI)):8%
  • Health insurance (HI) 1.5%
  • Unemployment insurance (UI) 1%

Employer contributes: - 

  • Social insurance (SI): 16%
  • Health insurance (HI): 3%
  • Unemployment insurance (UI): 1%
  • Trade Union Fee: 2%

Important Information: -

  • Current maximum salary to contribute compulsory insurance is 14.600.000
  • Maximum salary & % contribute can be changed by Government’s regulations
  • UI do not apply for organizations who have less than 10 staff who signed LABOUR/employment contract 12+ months
  • Employee will not contribute compulsory insurance if he/she a signed LABOUR/employment contract of less than 3 months or they are not under LABOUR/employment contract.

New Starts And Registering New Employees in Vietnam

According to the Vietnamese Labour Code, which came into effect on 1 May 2013, an employment contract is needed for both Foreign and Vietnamese workers.  The contract should mention the obligations and responsibilities of both the employers and employees, including the nature of the work involved, working hours, breaks, salary, location and duration of the employment.

Types of Contract:

Employment contracts in Vietnam are normally one of the following types:

  • An Indefinite term contract

  • A definite term contract of 12 to 36 months

  • A seasonal or fixed term contract of less than 12 months

The contract of an employee working on a definite term contract will automatically change into an indefinite term contract if the employee continues to work for the employer after the contract’s expiry and it is not renewed within 30 days.

The contract of an employee working on a seasonal or fixed term contract will automatically change into a definite term contract of 24 months if the employee continues to work for the employer after the contract’s expiry and it is not renewed within 30 days.

A definite term contract may only be extended once, after that the employee must be employed on an indefinite contract or stop working.

An employment contract should include:

  • Name and address of employer

  • Name, address, date of birth, ID number of employee

  • Description of job and working address

  • Time frame of the contract

  • Salary, payment type, date of payment, allowances and other benefits

  • Promotion and salary review system

  • Working hours and vacation

  • Details of social and medical insurance

  • Information about training involved

Deadline for new starters to be registered with the Authorities:

  • Tax (PIT): 90 days

  • Within 30 days

Probationary Period

The length of the probationary period is based on the complexity of the job, as follows:

  • No more than 60 days for jobs requiring professional or technical qualifications at college level or higher
  • No more than 30 days for jobs requiring technical expertise
  • No more than 6 working days for other jobs

Payment during the trial period is 85% of the salary stated in the employment contract.  Employees working on a seasonal contract are not required to undergo a probationary period.

Leavers in Vietnam

Vietnamese employment law prohibits an employer from discharging an employee who is on any type of leave that complies with applicable law, or who is undergoing medical treatment for his or her illness, including for an occupational injury or illness. The law also provides special employment protection for women, as employers are prohibited from discharging a female employee if:

  • She has a child less than 1 year of age;

  • She is getting married;

  • She is pregnant; or

  • She is on maternity leave.

The Vietnamese labour statutes allow employers to terminate an employee’s contract for the following reasons: 

  • If the employee repeatedly fails to perform work covered by his or her contract;

  • If the employee is on sick leave for an extended period of time in compliance with leave entitlement;

  • In the event of a natural disaster or similar event, the employer has no choice but to reduce work production;

  • If the employer ceases business operations; or

  • If the employer initiates a reduction in force after all attempts to negotiate with the union have failed (under this redundancy situation, there are numerous legal procedures the employer must follow).

Notice Periods in Vietnam

Employees: Employees working under an indefinite contract may resign by providing their employer with a 45-day notice, or three days if the employee has been treated for six consecutive months due to an illness or accident.

Employers: Excluding the cases of discharge due to a disciplinary matter, employers must provide employees:

  • 45-day notice for a unilateral dismissal of an employee working under an indefinite term contract;

  • 30 days’ notice in the case of a definite-term labour contracts; or

  • 3 days for employees working under a seasonal labour contract.

Information Required for a Leaver

The termination process in Vietnam involves certain obligations on the part of employers. Depending on the circumstance of their termination, an employee may be entitled to minimum notice period, and a severance package. As part of that process, employees should provide the following documents at the point of employment termination:

  • Copy of the termination letter, signed by employer.
  • SI book

Payroll in Vietnam

Employers in Vietnam have withholding obligations towards their employees’ salaries at each pay date, which include income tax and mandatory social security contributions. Both employers and employees contribute to social insurance, health insurance, and unemployment benefit funds as part of their mandatory social security contributions, but must also pay into their Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF).

Payslips must include details of the relevant pay period, and may be issued to employees electronically. Payroll reports must be kept for at least 7 years.

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