Representative office is a common form of presence of foreign traders to do research and understand the market before setting-up a business in Vietnam. After establishing a representative office in Vietnam, some foreign traders might have to change the address of the r its headquarters. This usually occurs when the lease contract for the office expires, or when the foreign trader no longer wants to use that address. In this case, foreign traders need to carry out procedures to change the address of the representative office’s headquarters.  This article shall explore the procedures for changing  a representative office’s headquarters.

According to the provisions of Decree 07/2016/ND-CP, there are two types of a foreign trader’s representative office change:

(i) In case of relocation of the representative office’s headquarters within the same province or municipality, or within a geographical area under the management of the same authority, the foreign trader shall apply for adjusting the license.

(ii) In case of relocation of the representative office’s headquarters to another province or municipality, or to a geographical area under the management of another authority, the foreign trader shall apply for re-issuance of the license for establishment of a new representative office.

1. Adjusting the license for relocating the representative office within the same geographical area

Documents to be prepared include:

  • A request for adjustment of the license.
  • A copy of the memorandum of understanding, or lease agreement of the location, or a copy of the document proving that the trader has the right to use the location for a representative office.
  • A copy of the document on the expected new location of the representative office’s headquarters.
  • The original license for establishment of the representative office.

After fully preparing the above documents, the foreign trader must submit the application at the ‘Department of Industry and Trade’ within 60 working days from the date of the change if the representative office is located outside an industrial park, export processing zone or high-tech zone will. In case the representative office is in one of the above areas, the application must be submitted at the management authority of that area.

2. Renewing the License for establishing a representative office in a different geographical area

Before carrying out the procedures for re-issuance of the license at the licensing authority in the place of relocation of the representative office, the foreign trader shall first carry out the procedures for notifying the termination of operation of the representative office at the licensing agency in the old locality.

A dossier of termination of operation of a representative office at the new locality includes:

  • An application for termination of operation (and)
  • The original license for establishment of the representative office

The above documents must be submitted to the licensing authority of the old locality where the representative office is located. Within 5 working days from the date of receipt of complete and valid dossiers, the licensing authority will announce on its website the termination of the representative office’s operation. After receiving the termination notice, the enterprise shall carry out the procedures for re-issuance of the license at the licensing authority of the new location.

Documents to be prepared include:

  • An application for re-issuance of the license
  • A notice of termination of operation of the representative office, which is sent to the licensing authority at the old locality
  •  A copy of the granted license for establishment of the representative office
  • The office lease contract or a copy of the document proving that the trader has the right to use the location for the representative office (and)
  • A copy of the document mentioning the new expected location of the representative office’s headquarters.

Within 5 working days from the date of receipt of valid dossiers, the licensing authority will re-issue the license for establishment of the new representative office. In addition, foreign traders shall carry out procedures for re-issuance of the license within 30 days from the date of notification of the termination of operation at the old location. If the above time limit is exceeded, the foreign trader must carry out procedures for issuance of new license for establishment of the representative office.

Thus, changing the headquarters of a representative office of a foreign trader is not a simple procedure, as it requires prior research and evaluation before implementation. This is to ensure that the change is carried out in accordance with the Law. If foreign traders are not aware of relevant laws, they might be held liable for violations, leading to potential administrative fines. Hence, complying with all the procedures prevents a negative impact on the operation of the representative office.

The article is based on laws applicable at the time noted as above and may no longer be appropriate at the time the reader approaches this article as the applicable laws and the specific cases that the reader may wish to apply may have changed. Therefore, the article is for referencing only.

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