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Conditions for foreign non-governmental organizations (“NGO”) to operate in Vietnam

Conditions for foreign non-governmental organizations (“NGO”) to operate in Vietnam
Conditions for foreign non-governmental organizations (“NGO”) to operate in Vietnam

On 31 August 2022, the Government issued Decree No. 58/2022/ND-CP on registration and management of activities of foreign NGO in Vietnam (“Decree 58/2022”) to replace Decree No. 12/2012/ND-CP issued on 01 March 2012 (“Decree 12/2012”), Decree 58/2022 will take effect from 01 November 2022.

According to the provisions of the new decree, conditions and procedures for granting operation registration certificates of foreign NGO have some main points as follows.

1. Definitions and concepts of foreign NGO

Decree 58/2022 is defining foreign NGO as non-profit organizations, social funds, private funds established under foreign laws; have lawful capital sources from abroad; development assistance and humanitarian aid activities in Vietnam are not for profit and other purposes; do not make financial donations, sponsorship advocacy, or fundraisers from Vietnamese organizations and individuals.

2. Conditions for foreign NGO to be established and operate in Vietnam

Foreign NGO was established to carry out development assistance and humanitarian aid projects in Vietnam. Accordingly, a foreign NGO will be granted an operation registration certificate if it meets the following conditions:

  • Have the legal person status under the law of the country or territory in which it is established.
  • Have clear operation charters, guidelines and purposes in conformity with Vietnam’s interests and needs.
  • Have specific proposals on the expected programs, projects and non-projects to support the development and humanitarian aid in Vietnam within 03 years.
  • Have a proposal for a representative in Vietnam.

3. Application and procedure for granting an Operation registration certificate

3.1 Application for granting an Operation registration certificate:

Decree 58/2022 stipulates that a foreign NGO shall submit 01 application for an operation registration certificate to the Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs, the application includes:

  • 01 application for issuance of an operation registration certificate;
  • 01 copy of the Charter and 01 copy of the proving document on the legal status of the foreign NGO;
  • 01 detailed statistics on programs, projects and non-projects that are expected to be subject to implementation in Vietnam within 03 years;
  • 01 application for approval of the Representative including the following documents:
    • 01 Decision on appointment;
    • 01 Biography;
    • 01 Criminal record;
    • 01 copy of passport that is valid in case of the person subject to approval for the Representative who is a foreigner; or

01 copy of passport or ID card that is valid in case of the appointee who is Vietnamese.

Note: Documents in foreign language in the above application shall be consular legalized, enclosed with the lawfully certified Vietnamese translation in accordance with the law of Vietnam, except for exemption from consular legalization under international treaties that Vietnam is a member or on the principle of reciprocity.

3.2 Procedure for granting an Operation registration certificate

  • Receipt of application: 02 working days.
  • Consult Ministries – Branches, Ministerial-level Agencies specialized in state management in the fields in which foreign NGO has registered for related activities: 02 working days.
  • The above consulted Agencies respond: 10 working days.
  • Transfer the application of foreign NGO and opinions of related Agencies to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for appraisal: 02 working days.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs evaluates the application, decides whether to grant or not to grant the Operation registration certificate and notifies the results to the Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs: 10 working days.
  • The Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs transfers the operation registration certificate to the foreign non-governmental organization by post or in person. If the application is not approved, the Committee for foreign non-governmental organization affairs shall notify in writing to clearly state the reasons: 30 working days from the date of receipt of the application of the foreign NGO.

Notes on the application appraisal:

The appraisal shall be carried out in the form of summarizing written opinions or holding an appraisal conference on the following contents:

  • Legality and completeness;
  • Conformity of objectives and principles of operation of the foreign non-governmental organization for the guidelines and policies of Vietnam and specific objectives for the development of central and local authorities;
  • Legal status and the process of operation of the foreign non-governmental organization;
  • Personal identity, background of the Representative;
  • Effectiveness and impact on socio-economic development, security and social order of operations of the foreign non-governmental organization.

4. The main change of Decree 58/2022 in comparison with Decree 12/2012

4.1 Shorten the time limit for processing procedures for granting and renewing operation registration certificates of foreign NGOs

Decree 58/2022 simplifies and shortens the processing time for granting and extending the Registration Certificate to 30 working days, the time limit for handling amendment, supplement and re-issuance procedures to 25 working days, significantly reducing 45 and 30 working days compared to those specified in Decree 12/2012.

4.2 Supplement regulations requiring foreign NGO to open and use accounts at commercial banks

Decree 58/2022 supplementing regulations requiring foreign NGO to open and use accounts at commercial banks or foreign bank branches authorized to operate in Vietnam; all activities of transferring, receiving money and disbursing funds for programs, projects and non-projects must be carried out through bank accounts, creating financial management tools and ensuring publicity and transparency.

The article is based on applicable law at the time noted as above and may no longer be appropriate at the time the reader approaches this article as the applicable law has changed and the specific case that the reader wishes to apply. Therefore, the article is only for reference.