Customs Considerations When Exporting to Vietnam

Mufaddal K.

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Manufacturers looking to export their products abroad need to consider various factors when evaluating export markets.  One of those factors is the customs clearance infrastructure and processes within a given country.  This article presents an overview of the time and cost it takes for a local partner to clear imported products through customs in Vietnam.  This overview, along with a regional comparison, should help you better qualify Vietnam as an export market for your products.



Country Overview


Vietnam is located within the East Asia & Pacific region.  It is a populated country with roughly 96 million people as of 2018.  34% of the population lives in urban areas.  The World Bank categorizes it as a lower middle income country with a GDP per capita (PPP) of USD$6900 per person.



Regional Comparison


The "World Bank's Doing Business project" publishes an evaluation of countries based on their efficiency of cross border trade.  When assessing import efficiency within a country it primarily reviews four factors:


1.  The time for border compliance (imports):  Compliance time associated with the country's customs regulations, inspections and handling that takes place at its port or border.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


2.  The cost of border compliance (imports):  Compliance cost associated with the country's customs regulations, inspections and handling that takes place at its port or border.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


3.  The time for document compliance (imports):  The time for obtaining documents, preparing documents, processing documents, presenting documents and submitting documents.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


4.  The cost of document compliance (imports):  The cost for obtaining documents, preparing documents, processing documents, presenting documents and submitting documents.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.



When evaluating border compliance time and cost amongst major regional economies, Vietnam ranks 9th regionally in terms of border compliance time and 9th regionally in terms of border compliance cost.  A US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts would take 56 hours to clear border customs and cost roughly US$373.


Country    Border Compliance Time (Hours)    Border Compliance Cost (USD)   
Singapore 33 $220
Thailand

50 $233
Hong Kong 19 $266
Japan 48 $275
South Korea 6 $315
Malaysia 69 $321
New Zealand 25 $367
Vietnam 56 $373
Australia 39 $525
Philippines 72 $580
China 72 $790
Taiwan 141 $828


When evaluating document compliance time and cost amongst major regional economies, Vietnam ranks 10th regionally in terms of document compliance time and 11th regionally in terms of document compliance cost.  A US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts would take 76 hours in Vietnam to have documents prepared & cleared and would cost roughly US$183.


Country    Document Compliance Time (Hours)    Document Compliance Cost (USD)   
South Korea 1 $27
Singapore

3 $40
Thailand 4 $43
Philippines 96 $50
Hong Kong 1 $57
Malaysia 10 $60
New Zealand 1 $80
Australia 4 $100
Japan 3 $107
China 54 $150
Vietnam 76 $183
Taiwan 149 $742


Detail for Border Compliance Time and Cost


Border compliance time and cost are calculated as a function of three driving factors: the time/cost related to working with customs authorities, the time/cost related to working with other agencies and finally border handling time/cost.  The border compliance time and cost for Vietnam are primarily driven by border handing.


Ho Chi Minh City Overview:


Detail Type    Time (Hours)    Cost (USD)   
Working with Custom Authorities 16 $85
Working with Other Agencies

8 $0
Border Handling

32 $288


Detail of Document Compliance Time and Cost


Document compliance time and cost is a function of the various documents required by the country when importing goods.  For Ho Chi Minh City, the documents required when importing goods from abroad include a bill of lading, commercial invoice, packing list, certificate of origin, cargo release order, customs import declaration, inspection report, and SOLAS certificate.



Transportation Costs


Another factor that influences import trade efficiency is transportation costs.  For shipments bound to Ho Chi Minh City, the port where goods would most likely land would be Cat Lai port.  When calculating transportation cost for the US$50,000 auto parts shipment, the World Bank calculates that the shipment that would land at Cat Lai port would need to be transported 26 km with an average travel time of 7 hours.  This brings the delivery transportation cost for the shipment to roughly US$181.



Infrastructure Digitization


Greater use of technology within the customs clearance process helps improve efficiency and lower time and cost associated with customs clearance.  Today many countries use digital systems to streamline the customs clearance process.  Many of these customs systems are known as EDI or Electronic Data Interchange systems.  More recently however, there has been a push to develop even more integrated customs clearance systems known as SW or single window systems.  These systems provide greater integration within a given country and between multiple countries when managing customs clearance.



Ho Chi Minh City does have an EDI system known as Vietnam Automated Cargo Clearance System (VNACCS).  It also has an SW system in progress known as Vietnam National Single Window.