Enterprises importing goods into Vietnam for many purposes such as trading, creating fixed assets, implementing investment projects… and corresponding to each import purpose, the customs declaration, import tax calculation will also be different. This article will provide you with general information and some notes for importing goods into Vietnam.

1. Summary of steps to import goods into Vietnam

Importing goods into Vietnam includes the following steps:

Step 1: Determine the import type of the goods

Each goods group has a different import mechanism. Therefore, enterprises need to determine the right type of goods in order to properly and fully carry out relevant procedures before/during import. Enterprises also need to carefully consider whether goods fall into the following groups:

  • Prohibited imports such as weapons, drugs, hazardous chemicals, etc.,
  • Goods subject to specialized inspection permits: For example, animal meat, aquatic products need to be subject to animal quarantine, sanitary and epidemiological inspection; Technical standards must test electronic equipment, machinery and equipment, etc.
  • Goods must have an import license, including two types: automatic import permits and non-automatic import permits.
  • Goods imported under conditions: Goods must meet the conditions when imported, but do not need an import license.

Step 2: Determine the HS code

HS code is the classification code of the goods, which is the basis for determining the import and export tax rates of goods.

In case your Company did not sure about the HS code of the goods the Company intends to import, the Company can send a request for pre-determination of the HS code to the Vietnam Customs to ensure the accuracy of the HS code, to avoid the goods not be granted customs clearance or violate tax obligations.

Step 3: Determine the related taxes and fees

After correctly identifying the HS code of the goods. Businesses need to determine which taxes that their goods will be subject to, and how much the tax rate will be. Depending on the type of goods imported, businesses may be subject to one or more of the following taxes:

  • Import tax–determined by HS code.
  • Value Added Tax–applies to most imported goods.
  • Special Consumption Tax–applies to certain types of non-recommended goods.
  • Environmental protection tax–on goods type that have an adverse impact on the environment.
  • Some other taxes, such as anti-dumping tax, anti-subsidy tax, self-defense tax, etc.

Step 4: Register/ apply for permission

To register/ apply for a license to import goods, you should process the following task:

  • Must have an import company, individuals are not allowed to directly import.
  • Register to use a digital signature at the website of the General Department of Customs.
  • Register to use the Vietnam Automated Cargo And Port Consolidated System (“VNACCS”).
  • For goods subject to specialized inspection: Register for specialized inspection.
  • For goods subject to import license: Apply for an import license.

Step 5: Declare customs declarations, pay taxes, customs clearance

The customs declaration can be submitted before the date the goods arrive at the border gate or within 30 days from the date the goods arrive at the border gate.

After the customs declaration is transmitted to the VNACCS System, the system will automatically classify:

  • Green channel: Exempt from detailed inspection of records and goods.
  • Gold channel: The company must submit a number of additional documents such as bills of lading, packing slips, value declarations, invoices, permits, certificates of origin… for the customs check.
  • Red channel: The company must submit additional documents similar to the gold channel. In addition, customs will inspect goods.

After this process, the Company proceeds to pay taxes, related fees and customs clearance of goods.

2. Notes when importing goods into Vietnam

Corresponding to each import purpose, the customs declaration and import tax calculation will also be different. Besides, in the spirit of the import and export regulations, enterprises must be solely liable for the declaration content, including the case that the declaration is made by the service providers. Because in  reality, the Enterprise is the owner of the goods.

Therefore, even when importing goods through a third party, enterprises also need to control the contents related to its import in order to eliminate the risks that as the owner of the goods, enterprises will have to bear.

Some mistakes often occur during the customs declaration stage

  • Wrongly declared goods name, HS code, origin or tax rate of imported goods.
  • Wrong quantity, type and value of goods compared to reality.
  • Import the goods that are listed in the list of goods banned from import, restricted from import or with conditional import (import license).

Enterprises when having demand to import need

  • Determining whether imported goods are prohibited, restricted or require specialized permits to be cleared, avoiding the situation that goods arrive at the border gate but cannot carry out import procedures, in fact, has incurred quite a lot;
  • Determine the corresponding type of import (for each import purpose, there will be a corresponding code);
  • Tax rates corresponding to each import purpose.

Wrong declaration, or understatement will often lead to the lack of tax payable and invisibly, the enterprise will be listed as the violated enterprises, the importing process will often be transferred to the gold channel afterward (checking the application and proof), or red channel (inspection of actual goods). For some temporarily imported machinery and equipment, when there is no need to use and re-export, domestic consumption will face many difficulties because the initial import dossier has applied HS code, tax calculation, type of import and export, import mechanism is not true to reality. Therefore, businesses also need to understand and keep in mind the information about import, because this will help them control the import process, including the results of work done by third parties.

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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