Importing goods to Vietnam : Survival guide


So yo want to import and sell your products to Vietnam? Here is a quick guide for you to survive the process.

Respect those rules, and you should be safe.

Restriction and trade barriers

We have heard so many stories of companies/individuals making this classic one so it´s always useful to remind you folks about the one basic rule. Always double check that you are trying to import is not prohibited in Vietnam!

Few difficult/impossible categories to import to Vietnam: Alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, cigarettes, used cars…

Keep in mind that some categories of product face double taxation. In addition to classic custom duties, you must pay the special consumption tax.

You apply the Special consumption tax on CIF price + import duties.


You will be stuck with your initial entry invoice price for a while. Once you declare a price to the customs you won’t be able to change it anymore.

Let´s say, you get a massive discount on your 3rd order from your US supplier.You even have in your possession the PRO-format invoice to prove your latest buying price?

Unfortunately, it´s not going to make any difference, you will pay duties based on the first unit price you have declared at the customs months ago.

As a result, in 2016, you had 2 methods to change the entry price:

  • Stop importing the SKU for 6 months
  • Change importer (the complete registration work must be re-done)


Almost every imported product need to be registered before importation. This is a critical step, no registration paper means no entry.

Your goods will be stuck at the port until you fix the situation, in worst case customs will destroy your shipment. Believe me, you want to avoid this situation

Note that registration may take time (up to 6 weeks after registration documents are submitted to Vietnamese authorities).

To fight against counterfeited goods, Vietnam has strict registration regulations rules regarding several categories.

for e.g. You must provide original documents to prove you are the official importer of that specific brand. This document must be:

  • Signed and stamped by your supplier
  • Notarized in country of origin
  • Signed and stamped by the Vietnamese embassy in the country of origin

So, do not lose time, the road is long!


Make sure your company carries all licenses to deal with the category, regarding both IMPORTATION and DISTRIBUTION. They are separate.

Alcoholic beverages for e.g. requires a special importation license, which is almost impossible to get and expensive (we are talking here about a dozen of thousand USD).

Because of those regulations, quite often, you must use the services of specialized companies carrying the license to take care of the process.

Import process

Let’s make this part simple. If you don´t have

  • Prior experience importing products to Vietnam
  • An experienced local customs officer aware of all the procedures in your staff

Then you should use the service of professional importers who’s been doing it for years. Or else, you might grow few gray hairs in the process, and take the risk of having your goods stuck for weeks/months.

I wouldn´t take that shot.

Preparation is the key. Don´t even ship anything before you have all critical document in your possession. The risk is just not worth it.

Therefore, take your time to discuss with different importation service providers. They know their job and will assist you with the paperwork. It might be costly, but you buy peace of mind.

List of prohibited goods to import to Vietnam:

how can we help you?

We would love to hear about your project in Vietnam.

“More than 30,000 imported consumer brands are currently distributed in Vietnam. The market is existing and growing fast, why not take the opportunity?”

Robert Karjalainen
Co-Founder, Nordesk