B2B vietnamese shipping customs

B2B Vietnamese Customs: How to Prepare and What to Watch Out For 👀

By Chris Crutchley on January 13, 2022
Vietnamese customs procedures are complex. Here’s what you need to know before sending goods through - from the experts

Found a retailer in Vietnam willing to stock your product but worried about getting your orders through customs? We don’t blame you. 

E-Commerce revenue in the country grew by 18% in 2021, making them the only southeast Asian country with growth in the double digits for the sector despite COVID-19 setbacks. With the explosive growth rate of E-Commerce in Vietnam now, there are tons of opportunities for international businesses to operate with local retailers or ship directly to customers.

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(Are you a small business that wants to ship directly to customers in Vietnam? Stay tuned for a blog on shipping B2C in Vietnam next month!)

And yet, Vietnam is still developing in terms of trade regulation. Vietnamese customs procedures are complex. Rules and regulations are numerous and subject to change with little warning. This can make navigating customs difficult, particularly for newcomers to the Vietnamese market.

If you want to ship B2B in Vietnam, you need to know what you are doing. If not, you will encounter unexpected costs, frustration, and hold-ups at customs.

Here’s what you need to know before sending goods through.

What do I need for fast B2B Vietnamese customs clearance?

Getting the following two steps right is crucial when preparing to ship internationally - to Vietnam or elsewhere.

#1 Have all the correct documents and licenses

Having all the necessary documents and licenses will assure you do not encounter unnecessary hold-ups at customs. For easy access, fill out the necessary documents electronically. After that, store all documents in a central location along with any business licenses required to do business and trade in the country

#2 Find out how your product will be taxed

Trade costs can get confusing fast. You need to know exactly how much you are going to be charged for importing into a country or you will find yourself spending more than you budgeted.

Usually, your costs are based on your product, your home country, and a couple of other factors. You can use online tools to find your harmonized tariff code based on your product classification. Then, to avoid unwelcome surprises at the border you can calculate what you will need to pay and factor that amount into your budget.

RELATED: International Shipping Services To And From Vietnam

What are Vietnamese customs procedures for B2B imports?

To take part in business and trade in Vietnam, you will need a few different certifications from their government.  

Required certifications for imports:

  • Business registration certificate - A legal document establishing your business as a separate legal entity in Vietnam

  • Investment certificate - This allows you to conduct economic activity in Vietnam

  • Import/export business code registration certificate - Vietnam does not require an import/export license, but you need to register with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to import/export for businesses

❗ Important - Just because your business isn’t registered in Vietnam doesn’t mean you can’t import. Many foreign businesses today partner with specialized trading companies within the country that can import on your behalf.

Documents you may also need for customs

Depending on what you want to import or export, you may need the documents below:

  • Bill of lading

  • Import permit (for restricted goods)

  • Certificate of origin

  • Commercial invoice

  • Packing list

  • Technical standard/health certificate

  • Trading License - This one is needed to sell imported items to Vietnamese consumers. Your options are to either establish a trading company (three-month process) or obtain a trading license (a one to three-month process)

Duties applied to B2B imports to Vietnam

Taxes are imposed on most product types imported. These are referred to as VAT (Value-Added Tax) and import tax (ie duty rate). The VAT is a flat rate, while the import tax fluctuates based on the product category.

Standard VAT in Vietnam is approximately 10%, but you may pay a higher rate of 15% for luxury goods, or a lower rate of around 5% for a specific list of items (basic foodstuffs, medical equipment, agricultural products).

There are three different categories of import tax rates based on what country your products are coming from:

  1. Ordinary duty rates are levied on goods originating from countries that do not have the Most Favored Nation (MFN) status with Vietnam

  2. Preferential duty rates apply to goods originating from a country which Vietnam has given MFN status 

  3. Special preferential duty rates apply to goods originating from countries which Vietnam has given special preferences for import

What is my duty (tax) rate?

As is the case with many countries, products imported into Vietnam all fall into specific product classifications, from high-tech electronics to consumer foodstuffs. The product class determines how much import tax/duty will be applied to your item. 

You can use an online tool like a Customs Info Database to figure out what your tax rate will be. Each Vietnamese product class has an eight-digit code, called an HS code (Harmonized System Code). You can use either the product HS code or product description to find your product type, and the database will provide you with the import tax rate for that product.

How to navigate Vietnamese B2B customs every time

Due to the complexity of navigating Vietnamese customs, the fastest companies always enter with an experienced logistics partner. One they can trust with local teams in Vietnam.

While major shipping companies like DHL or FedEx are the most common suggestions, they are not the most affordable or knowledgeable logistics services for the region.

Today, more and more businesses are using fourth-party logistics services like CBIP. As a 4PL, we do much more than your basic import service: we manage the entire import process from start to finish. And we already have years of experience in South East Asian markets.

As for all of the headache-inducing paperwork and cost calculations, we can take care of that for you too. Our Vietnamese customs specialists have all worked in the industry for years. We’ll calculate all taxes for you so you can plan your budget without worrying about surprises later on. We even fill out the documents and store them together with the necessary licenses and certifications in the cloud for easy access. 

Want to start shipping adaptably to Vietnam today? Schedule a free consultation today to find out just how easy we can make Vietnamese customs for your business.

About Author

Chris Crutchley

Chris Crutchley is CBIP’s director of operations and finance. He has over a decade of corporate finance and operational expertise throughout the Asia Pacific.

In logistics, Chris strives to continuously innovate and challenge the industry’s norms in order to offer clients world-class service that emphasizes clear communication.

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