On 23 October 2012 the Vietnamese Government issued Decree No. 88/2012/ND-CP (Decree 88) regulating the information and press activities of foreign correspondents and foreign agencies and organisations in Vietnam.

Decree 88 will take effect from 20 December 2012 and replace Decree No. 67/CP dated 31 October 1996 (Decree 67). Decree 67 was the first Government decree issuing regulations on the information and press activities of foreign correspondents and foreign agencies and organisations in Vietnam.

Of note, journalists of foreign news organisations working in Vietnam will be allowed to directly contact ministries and other authorities for reporting purposes instead of having to go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as under Decree 67.

These and other key points of Decree 88 are discussed below.

Scope and applicability

Decree 88 provides for (i) the information and press activities of foreign correspondents, foreign representative agencies and organisations in Vietnam (“foreign press activities”) and (ii) the responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the People’s Committees of provinces and cities with respect to their State management of information and press activities of foreign correspondents and foreign agencies and organisations in Vietnam.

For the purpose of Decree 88, foreign correspondents means news agencies, radio, TV, printing newspapers, electronic newspapers and other types of foreign correspondent.

Foreign representative agencies means foreign diplomatic missions, consular agencies, representative agencies of inter-governmental international organisation and other foreign authorised agencies performing consular functions in Vietnam.

Foreign organisations means representative agencies of non-governmental organisations and other foreign organisations in Vietnam.

Principle underlying foreign press activities

All foreign press activities may be carried out only after they are approved by the competent authorities. They must also comply with the current regulations of Vietnamese laws.

New regulations on press activities of foreign journalists

As mentioned above, Decree 88 adds new provisions, making it easier for the foreign media, representative agencies and foreign organisations to perform information services and press activities.

Under Decree 88, a representative office of a media agency can now be located outside Hanoi, in another province or a city under central authority.

Foreign media agencies now may send their resident correspondents to work in other localities in the country.

Foreign journalists can work for different press agencies in Vietnam and correspondents from other countries can work concurrently in Vietnam.

Resident foreign journalists will now have their press operation card valid up to 12 months instead of six months as previously stipulated.

Resident foreign correspondents can contact any locality, ministry or agency directly to ask about ongoing press activities, not through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as before.

The procedures and time period for dealing with requests for information and press activities from a foreign media are also simplified or reduced.

Activities of non-resident correspondents

A non-resident journalist wishing to enter Vietnam to conduct press and information activities must send a set of dossier to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or an overseas Vietnamese diplomatic mission or consular office at least 10 working days before coming to Vietnam.

Within this time limit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or overseas diplomatic mission or consular office will reply, indicating whether or not the journalist is allowed to enter Vietnam. In the case of approval, a press permit will be issued. During their stay in Vietnam, non-resident journalists must carry their press permit and passport.

Foreign journalists accompanying foreign delegations

Foreign journalists accompanying a foreign delegation invited by a Vietnamese leader or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must complete the same procedures as those applicable to non-resident journalists. They must work under the guidance of the Foreign Press Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or another unit assigned by the Ministry.

Procedures for establishing permanent offices

A foreign press agency wishing to set up a permanent office in Vietnam must send a set of dossier by post or by hand to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or to an overseas Vietnamese diplomatic mission.

Within 60 days from the receipt of full and valid documents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue a license for the establishment of a permanent office if the request is accepted. The permanent office may be located in Hanoi or another province/ city provided that approval is granted from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the People’s Committee of the locality.

The office is allowed to dispatch its journalists to work as resident journalists in localities other than the province/city where the office is situated.

Foreign journalist card

A resident journalist is granted a foreign journalist card which is valid for up to 12 months, corresponding with the validity of his/her visa. To request the issuance, re-issuance or extension of such a card, each resident journalist must send a set of dossier by post or by hand to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Within three working days from the receipt of valid documents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue, re-issue or extend the foreign journalist card.

Resident journalists in Vietnam are allowed to work as resident journalists for other representative offices set up by another foreign news agency. Foreign news agencies can send their resident journalists in other countries to work as resident journalists in Vietnam.

Where a resident journalist terminates his/her activities, the resident office must send written notification to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at least 15 working days before such termination and the journalist must hand back the foreign journalist card prior to exiting Vietnam.

Import-export of facilities and equipment of foreign correspondents

Foreign journalists are allowed, temporarily, to import and re-export necessary devices like cameras, camcorders and recorders in accordance with the current provisions of Vietnamese laws. Foreign journalists are also allowed to import and export, install and use transceivers for the transmission of news and images live via a satellite, to broadcast internationally via the national telecommunications network under the current provisions of Vietnamese laws.

Information and press activities of foreign representative agencies, foreign organisations in Vietnam

In the case of circulating information publications, foreign agencies or organisations must send written requests to the Ministry of Information and Communications. As for the foreign agencies, the documents must also be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for notification.

Publishing and circulating information publications must be in line with the Law on Journalism, the Publishing Law and other relevant provisions.

Activities of information and press activities of foreign agencies and foreign organisations

The permitted information and press activities of foreign journalists include:

  • Publishing and distributing foreign information bulletins;
  • Press conferences;
  • Publishing speeches or articles via Vietnamese mass media;
  • Displaying pictures, drawings and other forms of information outside the headquarters of representative agencies.

Conclusion

Decree 88 has been released to supplement current legislation in order to better facilitate development and ongoing operations of the foreign press in Vietnam.