Shipping from the USA to Vietnam


If you’re planning to ship your goods and/or your vehicles to Vietnam, you may be faced with quite a number of paper work to complete and duties and taxes to pay. The rules and regulations at their Customs Agency also tend to change so it’s important to contact the Embassy of Vietnam in the USA before sending out your shipment. However, the information below can be helpful, especially for those who are shipping out their items for the first time.

Requirements for diplomats

Diplomats may ship used household goods to Vietnam from the USA provided that they are able to obtain the complete documents for the shipment and that they don’t exceed their allowance. For example, only one of each kind of major appliance or electronics is allowed into the country duty-free per diplomat. Duplicates will be dutiable and taxable.

For the importation of these goods to be approved, the following documents must be presented to the Customs Agency in Vietnam:

i. Letter of Authorization
ii. Very detailed inventory with true valuation per item in written in English and Vietnamese
iii. Diplomat’s duty-free book
iv. Original Diplomat passport
v. Original Diplomat ID

All diplomatic shipments will be inspected by Customs Agents in Vietnam. This is an automatic right and should not be questioned by the Embassies. The embassy’s employees may also enjoy duty-free importation of household goods on restricted numbers of items. Contractual employees do not enjoy this right.

Non-diplomatic household shipments

All household goods, whether new or old, are dutiable and taxable if they’re not covered by diplomatic privileges. The shipment must not contain forbidden items and must be accompanied by the original shipment bills and a very detailed inventory of items. New and used items need not be packed and listed separately as the conditions for these items are the same. Non-diplomat consignees must prepare the following documents for shipment:

i. Copy of consignee’s passport
ii. Employee registration
iii. Detailed packing list with valuation and stamp from the Consulate of Vietnam in the USA in English and in Vietnamese
iv. Consignee’s Arrival Form for Customs
v. Letter of Authorization with the Vietnamese company’s stamp

It must be noted that the rules and regulations for non-diplomatic shipments change all the time. Consignees are always advised to fax or call the Embassy of Vietnam in the USA for instructions before sending out the shipment.

Motor vehicles

The published information online mention only cars and personal motor vehicles. Shipping vehicles to Vietnam from the USA is particularly difficult and the rules are temperamental. Consignees must always contact the Embassy of Vietnam in the USA before shipping. In fact, a permit for import must be acquired before the importation of any vehicle is carried out.

Only cars which are no older than two years old are allowed into the country. The duties and taxes, unless the vehicle is covered by diplomatic protocols, are hefty. Each vehicle is dutiable by at least 200% of its valuation. If the consignee wishes to continue with the shipment, though, the following documents are necessary for shipment:

i. Detailed description of the vehicle
ii. Registration papers
iii. Proof of ownership
iv. Official invoice or sales deed
v. Chassis number and engine details
vi. The consignee’s passport with proper Visa
vii. Company registration
viii. Letter of authorization from the consignee allowing the customs agent to proceed with the clearance of the vehicle if the documents are complete.

The clearance can take up to two weeks. Commercial and industrial vehicles, as well as special vehicles like boats and air planes are not forbidden entrance to the country but could be more difficult and costly to import. This article is only a guideline and the regulations may change without warning.

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