22 March 2011
On 16 February 2011, the Vietnamese Government issued Decree No. 14/2011/ND-CP setting conditions for registration and operation of customs clearance agents.
An agent for customs clearance procedures (customs agency) is a business entity which represents people who have imported or exported goods (goods owners) in: (a) carrying out the responsibilities of customs declarants stipulated in the Law on Customs; and (b) performing other work related to customs clearance procedures, as agreed in a contract.
The salient provisions of Decree 14 are discussed below.
Conditions for acting as customs agency
A customs agency must satisfy all of the following conditions:
- Have business registration in accordance with the law
- Have the business line of imported and exported goods-handling services or customs declaration services stated in its business registration certificate
- Have at least one customs agent staff member
- Satisfy the conditions on computer linking to customs offices in order to conduct customs clearance procedures electronically at a Department of Customs of a province or city which already conducts customs procedures electronically
Conditions for being customs agent staff member
A customs agent staff member must satisfy all of the following conditions:
- Be a Vietnamese citizen
- Have a secondary school or higher level diploma in the faculty of economics or law
- Have a professional certificate of completion of a customs study course
- Have worked for at least three months with the customs agency which issues his or her customs agent staff card
A customs agency which issues customs agent staff cards to its staff is legally liable for satisfaction of the conditions by its staff as set out above.
Persons not permitted to be customs agent staff members
The following persons are not permitted to be customs agent staff members:
- A minor who lacks capacity for civil acts or whose civil capacity is restricted
- A person currently subject to criminal prosecution, or who has been sentenced to serve or is currently serving a term of imprisonment
- A person who was dealt with for an administrative breach in the customs and tax sector within the one year period prior to the date of submission of the application for issuance of the customs agent staff card
- A person currently holding a position as a State employee
Application file for issuance of customs agent staff card
An application file for issuance of a customs agent staff card must comprise:
- Request for issuance of customs agent staff card on the standard form issued by the Ministry of Finance (MOF)
- Certified copies of the diploma and certificate stipulated in Decree 14
- Copy identity card of the staff member
The applicant must prepare the application file and lodge it with the customs agency where he or she currently works in order to be issued with a customs agent staff card.
Issuance and management of customs agent staff cards
A staff member of a customs agency who satisfies the conditions stipulated in Decree 14 will be issued with a customs agent staff card by the customs agency. The time-limit for issuance of a card is five working days from the date of submission of a complete application file, and in a case of refusal the customs agency must provide written notice to the applicant stating the reasons for the refusal.
A customs agent staff card must specify the full name and identity card number of the holder, and the name of the customs agency where such staff member works.
Within three working days from issuance of cards, the customs agency must send and register the list of the people to whom it has issued customs agent staff cards on the standard form issued by the MOF, for publication on the website of the General Department of Customs (GDC).
A customs agency will be responsible for promulgating rules on management and use of customs agent staff cards which the agency issues on the standard form provided by the MOF, and such agency will be legally liable for management and use of the staff cards of its agency.
Notification and Operations of Customs Agencies
Before commencing operations, a customs agency must submit a file notifying satisfaction of the conditions for acting as a customs agency to the Department of Customs in the area where the agency has its head office. Within five working days from the date of receipt of such a file, the Department of Customs will certify and return the notice of satisfaction of conditions to the customs agency. In addition, the Department of Customs will send and register the notice from the customs agency on satisfaction of conditions for operation to the GDC for publication on its website.
The operations of customs agencies include:
- Signing contracts with goods owners
- Requesting goods owners to supply all accurate source documents and other information necessary to carry out customs clearance procedures on each consignment of imported or exported goods
- Carrying out all work relating to customs clearance procedures as agreed in a contract, including:
- Completing, signing and sealing customs declaration forms
- Submitting and presenting sets of customs files in respect of consignments of imported or exported goods
- Making available consignments of goods to enable the customs office to inspect them
- Carrying out further work after receiving authorisation in a contract, including:
- Paying import and export duty and other types of taxes and charges collectible as stipulated by law on consignments of imported or exported goods
- Submitting complaints, requesting resolution or amendment of decisions of the customs office in respect of consignments of imported or exported goods in accordance with the law
- Being legally liable for incorrect performance of authorised work or for any declaration of incorrect information and source documents supplied by goods owners.
Decree 14 will take effect from 1 April 2011 and replaces Decree No. 79/2005/ND-CP of 16 June 2005.
For inquiries related to this Legal Update, please contact:
Dao Nguyen (
Thinh Dan (
Learn more about our Vietnam offices, Aviation and Shipping practices.