In 2007 the Government issued Decree No. 115/2007/ND-CP regulations on business conditions for sea shipping services ("Decree 115"). After nearly 4 years of application, Decree 115 showed several ambiguities that caused uncertainty about its application. Therefore, to overcome this shortcoming, on 14 April 2014 the Government issued Decree No. 30/2014/ND-CP regulations on sea shipping business conditions and sea shipping support services ("Decree 30") that replaced Decree 115.

Decree 115 only provided regulations on sea shipping business. This was a difficulty as similar support services involve much of the same activities, services like agency services, towage services and other activities. While Decree 115 only provided conditions on sea shipping business, which included the use of sea ships for transporting freight, passengers and luggage, it did not provide any regulations for the support services that act to support the business of sea shipping. In Decree 30 the Government clearly lists two ranges of independent sea shipping related businesses, i.e. sea shipping business and sea shipping support services.

Decree 30 also opens up the participation in this sector to foreign investors. They can take part in the sea shipping business so long as their investment in any given company is no more than 49%.

General conditions for sea shipping business and sea shipping support services include:

  • To participate in the sector a company is required to be formed by either 100% Vietnamese owners or a joint venture between Vietnamese and foreign owners.
  • In setting up the company the investors must ensure that sea shipping business and/or sea shipping support services are included in the business lines which are stated in the certificate of business registration or the certificate of investment.
  • The person in charge of the business must have at least three years of experience for sea shipping business and two years for sea supping support services.
  • The company must employ personnel for a legal department who have a certificate of law from an accredited university and at least two years of experience in the legal field.

There are also conditions for each separate service.

Companies operating sea shipping business must obtain a license issued by Vietnam Maritime Administration. The license has five years of effectiveness and can be renewed again and again. Legal capital must be at least VND20 billion (app. US$1 million) applied to international shipping and VND5 billion (app. US$250,000) to domestic shipping.

For sea shipping agency service providers, employees must be citizens of Vietnam, have bachelor degrees specialized in maritime, foreign trade, commerce or economics.

For towage service providers, enterprises must have a minimum of two specialized tugboats and professional liability insurance or equivalent guarantees.

In the business of sea shipping support service (agency and towage), foreign investors who wish to run such activities in Vietnam are required to establish a joint venture company with Vietnamese partners with the capital contribution not exceeding 49% of the charter capital of the enterprise.

Decree 30 took effect on 1 July 2014.