Global Business GuideVietnam

From Global Connections

This is one of a series of Global Business Guides designed for businesses wishing to expand into another country/territory. This Global Business Guide was produced in January 2016. The materials contained in this document provide a snapshot at that time and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.


Vietnam is the ninth most attractive destination in the world for foreign investment, in accordance with UNCTAD's World Investment Prospects Survey. Consequently, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows continue to grow; FDI inflows into Vietnam jumped 17.4 per cent in 2015 to a record of USD14.5 billion.

Vietnam ranked 90th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings, rising from 93rd in the year prior. The rankings recognised a number of reforms enacted to make doing business easier. These include making starting a business easier by reducing the time required to get the company seal engraved and registered. The government also made paying taxes less costly by reducing the corporate income tax rate and reducing the number of procedures and filings for VAT and social security contributions. Further reforms were made across the following topics: Getting Credit, Resolving Insolvency and Getting Electricity.

Key facts about starting a business in Vietnam:

  • It takes 10 procedures and approximately 20 days to start a new business in Vietnam; this process is detailed in the Doing Business in chapter
  • The average processing time for a work permit is seven days; employment regulations are discussed in detail in the Labour chapter
  • Requesting and obtaining a construction permit takes approximately 82 days and costs VND100,000
  • All Vietnamese incorporated entities must prepare statutory financial statements in accordance with the Vietnamese Accounting Standards; further details can be found in the Audit chapter
  • Companies that wish to list securities on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange or the Hanoi Stock Exchange must, amongst other conditions, have engaged in their core business for at least two or three years, respectively, preceding the date of registration; this is discussed further in the Finance chapter

Vietnam's attractiveness as an investment location can be attributed to a number of factors, including its young population and growing economy. Nevertheless, in order to make an informed decision, it is critical to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Vietnam may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist depending on the region and the industry in which a company operates.

Vietnam's official language is Vietnamese and therefore the lingua franca of business. Business in Vietnam is formal and seniority is important. Business attire is conservative. A handshake is the typical business greeting and will be used at the beginning and end of a meeting. Business cards will usually be presented after initial introductions.

Those looking to establish a business in Vietnam may look across Southeast Asia for alternative options. However, Vietnam can be differentiated on the following factors:

  • Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world; it recorded a GDP growth rate of 6.68 per cent in 2015
  • Vietnam is strategically located in close proximity to Southeast Asia's other major and developing markets
  • Corporate income tax was reduced to 20 per cent in 2016; this is further detailed in the Tax chapter
  • The government enacted the Public Private Partnerships Regulation in 2015, providing opportunities for private sector investment in infrastructure; further details can be found in the Infrastructure chapter
  • Foreign investors are given incentives to use land in industrial parks, hi-tech parks, and economic zones; discussed further in the Trade chapter

While there are significant opportunities for investment in Vietnam, a number of challenges remain. The legal and regulatory framework is still evolving and changes can be unpredictable. A lack of transparency means that bureaucracy and corruption are still commonplace. The country also requires significant infrastructure updates.

This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Vietnam, its legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Vietnam. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.

Please note that the Global Business Guides may only be available in English.

Useful Links

1 Ministry of Planning and Investment
2 General Department of Taxation
3 General Department of Vietnam Customs
4 National Office Of Intellectual Property Of Vietnam
5 Ministry of Information and Communications
6 Foreign Investment Agency
7 Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs



1 UNCTAD World Investment Report
2 FDI Inflows
3 Doing Business Rankings
4 Work permit
5 GDP growth rate


Download Global Business Guide - Vietnam (4.36MB, PDF)


This document is issued by HSBC Bank plc. (the Bank). This guide is a joint project with Grant Thornton. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business to anyone in any jurisdiction. It is not intended for distribution to anyone located in or resident in jurisdictions which restrict the distribution of this document. It shall not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or further distributed by any recipient. The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this document, the Bank and Grant Thornton makes no guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness, and under no circumstances will the Bank or Grant Thornton be liable for any loss caused by reliance on any opinion or statement made in this document. Except as specifically indicated, the expressions of opinion are those of the Bank and are subject to change without notice. The materials contained in this document were assembled in January 2016 and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.

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