by Steven Jacob, Foreign Associate
Last week I examined the four types of e-commerce websites that are allowed to operate in Vietnam (see Some Issues on E-Commerce in Vietnam). For each type, there is either a notification or registration requirement before the website can commence operations. This week I wanted to discuss the requirements for such notification and registration of e-commerce websites in Vietnam.
First, a quick review. The four types of e-commerce websites allowed in Vietnam are classed as:
- Sales websites
- Trading Floors
- Online Auction
- Online promotion
Each website has different characteristics and different requirements for operation and information necessary to provide to customers. Sales websites require that the operator notify the Ministry of Industry and Trade, or MOIT, prior to commencing operations. Trading Floors, Online Auctions, and Online Promotions websites must all register with the MOIT, a much more stringent procedure than mere notification.
Notification of E-Commerce Websites in Vietnam
Before conducting a notification procedure, the owner of a sales website must ensure that they meet a few basic prerequisites. They must be a trader or organization properly registered with the appropriate business lines and or an individual who has been issued a personal tax code, and they must have a website with a validly registered domain name and comply with relevant legislation on information management. If they have satisfied these two requirements then the only remaining task prior to commencing operations is the notification.
Notification must be conducted online. The MOIT has set up an online portal for e-commerce and the notification is to be completed via the announcement tool on that Management Portal. The announcement tool will require the following information to complete a notification:
- Domain name of the E-commerce website;
- Type of goods and services to be introduced on the website;
- Registered name of the traders, organizations or name of the website owner.
- Address of the head office of the traders, organizations or permanent residence of individuals.
- Number, date and place of issue of the certificate of business registration of the traders, or number, date of issue and unit issuing the establishment decision of the organizations, or tax code of the individuals;
- Name, title, identification number, telephone number and E-mail address of the trader’s representative and the person who is responsible for E-commerce website;
- Other information as prescribed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
There are a few steps in the process. First, the applicant must register for an account, which is where the above information will be declared. The MOIT will then have three days to confirm whether the information is complete and open your account, sending a notification to your registered email address. Upon such confirmation, you can then proceed to conduct the notification for your sales website using the available form. The MOIT will then have three days to acknowledge whether the form was filled out properly and with all the necessary information. If that is the case, then there will be no further action necessary. If the MOIT find that there is inaccuracies or incompleteness in the form they will require you to fill it out again.
Registration of E-Commerce Websites in Vietnam
Registration of the three other types of e-commerce websites in Vietnam is more involved than notification. First off, only traders or organizations can operate these three types of websites. Individuals are not included in the types of entities allowed to operate them. As with sales websites, they must be properly registered with the appropriate business lines and have a valid registered domain name. They must also a plan for service provision with includes a model of organization and operation (including operation of service provision, promotion and marketing services inside and outside the online environment); the structure, features and essential information on the service provision website; and the division of rights and responsibilities between the traders or organizations providing E-commerce services with the parties using the services. With this plan in place, the only remaining duty prior to commencing operations is the registration of the website.
Registration requires more information than notification. In order to properly lodge a registration, the owner of a relevant e-commerce website must prepare and submit the following documents:
- Application for registering websites providing e-commerce services (made according to the Form TMDT-1 in the Annex promulgated together with Circular 12/2013/TT-BCT).
- Authenticated copies of the establishment decision (for organizations), certificate of Business registration, certificate of investment or license of investment (for traders).
- Scheme on supplying services including:
- Model of organization and operation including operation of service provision, promotion and marketing services inside and outside online environment.
- Structure, feature and essential information on the service provision website.
- Dividing rights and responsibilities between the traders or organizations providing E-commerce services with the parties using services.
- Regulation on operation management of websites supplying e-commerce service including:
- Application for setup of E-commerce service provision website
- A certified copy of establishment decision (for organizations), certificate of business registration, certificate of investment or License of investment (for traders);
- Service provision plan as specified in point 3 above
- Regulations on operation management of E-commerce service provision websites shall comply with provisions of this Decree and regulations of relevant laws.
- Form of contract of service provision and general transaction conditions, if any;
- Other documents specified by the MOIT.
- The model service contract or cooperation agreement between trader, organization possessing website supplying e-commerce services with traders, organizations and individuals participating in goods sale or service provision on that website.
- General transaction conditions that apply to the goods sale and service provision on the website (if any).
All of that is necessary to lodge a registration with the MOIT. The process is fairly straightforward. As with the notification discussed above, the applicant must register for an account at the online portal. The MOIT will have three days to confirm the account and notify the applicant of such at their registered email. Then the applicant will lodge the above documents. The MOIT will have seven days to review these documents and confirm whether the information is complete. If they find additions or changes necessary they will notify the applicant who must then make such amendments or changes. If the MOIT finds the dossier sufficient, they will request the applicant to submit hard copies of the dossier. Once the MOIT receives the hard copies they have thirty days to review the full application dossier and inform the applicant of a successful registration.
The registration of e-commerce websites is obviously more onerous than the notification for sales websites. It is important to understand exactly what kind of website one intends to operate so as to know which procedure must be complied with. Knowing that, the process is relatively straightforward. It simply takes paperwork–a task for which Vietnam is well practiced–and time. That is, of course, assuming that one is interested in opening a Vietnamese based e-commerce website. This does not apply to cross-border providers (see Foreign E-Commerce Providers in Vietnam). As always, if you need help understanding the process or interfacing with the authorities, Indochine Counsel stands ready to help.