How do I import a car to Vietnam?

Business and Legal | 2019-09-10


Can foreigners import a car during their first year in Vietnam?

Foreigners or expats who are thinking of moving to Vietnam or are already living in Vietnam are allowed to import a used car into the country. Import duties are high, however, there are some procedures that can be followed to ensure the process is otherwise headache-free.

Car Requirements

To be considered as a qualified used car, the vehicle can’t be more than five-years-old counting from manufacturing date. It also needs to be registered for at least six months in the owner’s home country and have a minimal mileage of 10,000km.

The present owner of the vehicle must be the original owner. If the car has changed hands since the original title was issued it cannot be imported to Vietnam.

Cars with steering wheels on the right side, including removable and interchangeable steering wheels are not allowed. Remember, the laws of the road in Vietnam may be different from the laws in your country.

Do not disassemble cars when transporting and importing to Vietnam.

Cars should not be significantly modified in terms of appearance and specifications, such as changing the engine power or the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

Importing Procedure

When the car arrives at Ho Chi Minh City port, it will need to be registered with the Vietnam Customs authorities. You will need to present the following documents, which can be downloaded from their website:

Application form for importing the automobile into Vietnam (don de nghi nhap khau o to)

Import license or certificate of free sale (giay phep nhap khau)

Customs declaration (to khai hai quan xuat/nhap khau)

A vehicle registration certificate (giay dang ky xe nuoc ngoai)

Bill of lading (van tai don)

The owner of the car will need to show the following documents: 

- A valid passport

- A visa that is valid for at least three months

- A valid work permit

- A household registration book

Note: The household registration book will be issued by the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam.

- The Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam

- At: 44 Yet Kieu, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

- Tel: (024) 06943647 / (024) 06941165

Licence Plates and Registration 

Once the car has successfully been accepted by customs, it will need to pass the safety and environmental control standards in order to receive a certificate of safety. The owner will have three working days to submit an application for registration in Vietnam, and will need to bring both of these certificates to Vietnam Customs in order to complete the import procedure. 

Only then can Vietnamese license plates be issued, usually numbers preceded by NN or NG for imported cars. Foreign license plates can not be used to drive in Vietnam. After you submit the application for license plates you can get temporary plates, which will be valid for only 20 days, which can be extended for an additional 20 days if necessary.

Important Addresses

Vietnam Customs Head Office

- At: Block E3, Duong Dinh Nghe Street, Yen Hoa, Cau Giay District, Hanoi

- Tel: (024) 39440833 (ext: 8624)

Quang Ninh Province Customs Department (in Vietnamese)

- At: No 5, Ben Doan Street, Halong City, Quang Ninh Province

- Tel: (0203) 33826148

- Fax: 0203 33825590

Danang City Customs Department (in Vietnamese)

- At: 250 Bach Dang Road, Phuoc Ninh Ward, Danang City

- Tel: (0236) 3827639

- Fax: (0236) 3823328

Hai Phong City Customs Department

- At: No 22, Dien Bien Phu Road, May To Ward, Hai Phong City

- Tel: (0225) 3836262 

- Fax: (0225) 3859993

Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department

- At: 2 Ham Nghi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

- Tel: (028) 38291422

- Fax: (028) 38290096

Are Việt Kiềus or Overseas Vietnamese allowed to import vehicles into Vietnam?

If you want to import a vehicle into Vietnam, there are some serious hoops that you will have to jump through. Along with the standard import taxes that apply to the vehicle, be prepared to pay additional customs fees. The customs regulations can seem like an endless laundry list of protocols and guidelines, which can be daunting to read through.

If you are an Overseas Vietnamese and want to bring your ride back home, you might need an update. In the old rule, Overseas Vietnamese are allowed to bring in one vehicle for personal usage. This vehicle used to be exempt from import tax and VAT if you were moving back home or working in Vietnam at the request of government agencies for at least 12 months. However, this policy has been abolished in 2016 because many people have abused this policy by importing luxury cars and then reselling them once back in Vietnam.

If you’re lucky enough to be located in the region of a country that shares a border with Vietnam (Cambodia, China, Laos), this might be the best option. However, when you look at all the issues with customs and taxation and procedures that have to be completed in order to simply get your car here, renting one or taking up motorbike driving may be more practical alternatives.

For information on driving go to How to get a driving license in Vietnam