Vehicle Import Business License required in Vietnam

26 - 04 - 2018
Asian-Mena Counsel

Being one of the most noticeable legal documents issued by Vietnam's government at the end of 2017, Decree No. 116/2017/ND-CP dated 17 October 2017 regulates the statutory conditions of vehicle manufacture, assembly, import and warranty & maintenance services ("Decree 116"). These regulations only apply to companies operating in automobile manufacture, assembly, import, warranty, and maintenance services in Vietnam, and for related authorities, organizations and individuals.

In the whole, Decree 116 provides regulations on responsibilities along with statutory conditions for (i) the manufacture / assembly of vehicles; (ii) importation of vehicles; and (iii) vehicle warranty and maintenance services. This article will focus on key points relating to vehicle import.

Requirement of Import License

Unlike expired Circular No. 20/2011/TT-BCT, dated 12 May 2011, which stipulates additional procedures for imported cars from nine seats or less, Decree 116 requires that, as of 1 January 2018, all types of automobile vehicles being passenger cars, buses, trucks, and specialized use vehicles defined in Vietnamese standards TCVN6211 and TCVN7271 shall only be imported into Vietnam by enterprises which have already been granted a Vehicle Import Business License (the "Import License").

Compulsory conditions applicable to vehicle importers comprise the following: (i) operation or rental of a vehicle warranty and maintenance facility or such facility belonging to the importer's authorized dealer system and satisfying the provisions in this Decree; and (ii) having a written certificate or document proving that they are authorized to represent offshore vehicle manufacturers/ assemblers to recall vehicles imported into Vietnam.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is the agency authorized to issue the Import License. Approval should be received within 10 business days after the receipt of a complete and valid application dossier, or no more than 20 business days if it is necessary to conduct a check of the accuracy of the mentioned conditions.

When granted an Import License, the importers must maintain business conditions and assure their fulfillment of liabilities relating to warranty, maintenance, and recall of imported cars in line with Decree 116. Unless such Import License shall be incurred with a suspension of validity or revocation.

Responsibility of importers

For the sake of consumer protection, importers must discharge their responsibility to the vehicles' warranty and maintenance. For imported unused vehicles, the minimum term of a warranty shall be 3 years or 100,000 km for passenger cars, 2 years or 50,000 km for buses / coaches, and 1 year or 30,000 km for the remaining types of vehicle, whichever comes first. Imported used vehicles must have a warranty term of at least 2 years or 50,000 km for passenger cars, and at least 1 year or 20,000 km for the remaining types of vehicle, depending on whichever comes first.

Notably, technical safety quality and environmental protection are closely managed by competent authorities. Accordingly, besides the set of documents issued by foreign authorities / entities (i.e. copy of Quality certificate; Original ex-factory quality inspection slip; valid Certificate of registration of circulation of the used vehicle; etc.) that are required to be submitted to the quality control agency, importers must conduct a quality inspection on every batch of imported unused vehicles or each imported used vehicle.

The Decree comes into effect immediately, but also provides some grace periods for compliance. Particularly, vehicle importers established prior to the issue date of Decree 116 may continue their operation until 31 December 2017, but are only permitted to import vechicles after obtaining an Import License from 1 January 2018 onwards in line with this Decree.

The validity of Decree 116 looks to cause drastic changes to the vehicle import market in Vietnam beginning from early 2018. Despite the current decrease of imported automobiles into the country, there is hope that these new regulations will benefit consumers to secure product quality as well as better warranty & maintenance services from trustworthy vehicle importers.


Nguyen Thanh Thao

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