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Basic Process

Export Protocol

The customs authority in Vietnam is known as Vietnam Customs.

Documentation Package

The exporter prepares a documentation package consisting of the Customs Declaration for the Export of Goods and other supporting documentation, which is presented to Customs. The exporter may export only the quantity of articles specified in the Business Registration Certificate/Investment License. When changing the quantity being exported, the exporter must inform a body authorized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI). For an exporter that owns a tax-suspension warehouse, customs keeps track of the quantity for purposes of tax payment.

Documentation Review

Customs reviews the documentation to check for:

  • Authority of the entity to export
  • Consistency of information across documents
  • Legality of the proposed export
  • Proper product classification

Customs also:

  • Establishes whether to order an inspection of the shipment
  • Computes duties, taxes, and other fees
  • Refers documentation to other governmental agencies for exports of controlled products
  • Establishes any special requirements for final clearance of the shipment

If the customs office where declaration was made is not located at an airport or customs border, the shipment and means of transport are conveyed to a checkpoint at the customs border.

Most exporters engage the services of a logistics firm or a customs broker to handle export documentation and procedures.

Time to File

The Customs Declaration must be submitted at the customs sub-branch from which the shipment will be exported. The Customs Declaration and its supporting documents can be filed up to 15 days before the date of a shipment’s export. If the shipment is not exported before the 15-day period elapses, the filing process must be repeated.

Electronic Filing

Customs presently accepts only manual filing of documents. It has been reported, however, that customs is in the process of implementing an electronic declaration system to streamline and simplify processing, though there is currently no date set for launch of such a system.

Export License, Commodity Clearance, Certificate of Exemption

Export license(s) and/or commodity clearance(s) may be required for certain restricted articles. A certificate of exemption may be obtained for certain prohibited, banned, or controlled articles. See the Restricted and Prohibited page.

Export Documentation

All exports of physical articles require the following basic documentation:

  • Customs Declaration for the Export of Goods (original)
  • Packing List (P/L) (original)
  • Purchase and Sale Contract or equivalent documents (copy)
  • Freight Document: Bill of Lading (B/L), Air Waybill (AWB), Rail Waybill, or Road Waybill  (copy)
  • Pro Forma or Commercial Invoice (CI)
  • Business Registration Certificate (for domestic exporters)/Investment License (for foreign exporters)
  • Export-Import Code Registration Certificate

Some exports may require specialized documentation:

  • Certificate of Origin (CoO) (which is required only if the subsequent importer is claiming preferential import duty rates under a trade agreement with Vietnam)
  • Insurance Document
  • Export Licenses, Permits, Certifications
  • Documents as may be requested/required by the subsequent importer
  • Documents as may be required by the terms of a bank letter of credit (L/C) or documents against payment (D/P) provision

Restricted and Prohibited Articles

The export of restricted and prohibited articles may require an export clearance from the governmental agency that regulates that article. Restricted articles include certain arms and armaments, certain technology products, plants, animals, food products, natural resource products, currency, and radioactive materials.

A certificate of exemption may be obtained for certain prohibited, banned, or controlled articles. Prohibited articles include certain plants and animals, especially those of endangered species. Some restricted and prohibited articles may need to be appraised prior to export in order to determine if they are exportable. (See the Restricted and Prohibited page for further information.)


In general, customs does not inspect exports. Customs may perform an inspection in cases where the articles to be exported are produced from imported materials or are on Vietnam’s restricted and prohibited articles list.

Articles to be exported may be subject to inspection when:

  • The seal on the shipping container has been tampered with
  • The container is leaking
  • The shipment’s details in the shipping documents differ from that in the manifest
  • An alert or hold order has been put on the shipment
  • Customs has knowledge that there is a variance between the declared and true quantity, measurement, weight, and/or tariff classification of the shipment.

Customs may inspect an entire shipment if the exporter has a history of noncompliance with the law or where a customs violation is suspected. Customs may also perform random spot inspections, but in such case no more than 5 percent of the shipment may be inspected.

Payment of Duties and Taxes

Articles to be exported are released once all taxes and duties are paid or secured to be paid. For articles that require value verification, appraisal, or classification in order to determine the amount of duty and taxes payable, such articles will be cleared by customs only after the exporter has discharged the obligation to pay duty on the basis of a self-declaration and assessment of duty and has provided sufficient guarantee in the form of a surety, a deposit, or some other appropriate instrument, covering the ultimate payment of customs duties and taxes for which the articles may be liable. 

Export Regimes

The proposed export of certain arms, armaments, dual-use technology, and nuclear materials and equipment are likely to be covered by one or more Multilateral Export Control Regime. World Trade Press recommends consulting with logistics and legal specialists for more information.

Clearance and Release of Shipments

Once any necessary inspection is completed, all duties, taxes, and other fees are paid, and no discrepancies or problems arise with the Customs Declaration or the shipment to be exported, customs releases the shipment for export. Once permission to export goods is granted, the exporter has an obligation to ensure that the goods are exported. 

Export Support 

For help or further information contact the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency at [84] (4) 3934 7628 or by email at

Note: The above information is subject to change. Importers and exporters are advised to obtain the most current information from a customs broker, freight forwarder, logistics professional, or the local customs authorities.

Sources: Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency; Vietnam Customs; Vietnamese Embassy