Types of Business in Vietnam

Currently, investors can choose from the following types of businesses to register to establish a business in Vietnam: Representative Office; Limited Liability Company; Joint-Stock Company; Branch Office; Joint Venture; Public Private Partnership.

1. Representative Office

A Representative Office offers a low-cost entry option for many companies, and are among the most common for companies that are first-time entrants to the Vietnamese market.

Representative Office’s are often suitable for companies that may be seeking to gain a better understanding of the Vietnamese market with a smaller initial investment, and may be used to pave the way for a larger presence within the country in future years.

Requirements and registered capital

Registered capital is NOT a statutory requirement for setting up a Representative Office in Vietnam. 

Time to establish

Representative Offices can be set up about 7 working days under the laws of Vietnam. 

Representative Office’s are currently permitted to engage in the following activities:

  • Conducting market research;
  • Acting as a liaison office for its parent company;
  • Promoting the activities of its head office through meetings and other activities that leads to business at later stages.

2. Limited Liability Company

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is an incorporated company with limited liability and the investor does not intend to become a publicly traded company.

Normally, foreign investors who want to establish a Limited Liability Company in Vietnam will consider ‘100% Foreign-Owned Enterprise‘.

Requirements and registered capital

For most sectors and business lines, Vietnam requires no minimum capital requirements. However, the registered capital will be assessed by The Department of Planning and Investment for whether it is adequate to cover the expenses of the business until it generates enough revenue to cover its costs. It is possible to setup a basic business services company with less than USD 10,000 in some cases, but in most cases it would be at or above this threshold, depending on the nature of the business.

It is best to verify whether your business may require minimum capital investment however, given that some industry sectors (business lines) do have requirements.

Examples include:

  • Finance, Banking, Insurance and Fin-tech;
  • Language centers or Vocational schools;
  • Real estate companies;


Limited Liability Company can be broken down into two types: single-member Limited Liability Company which have only one owner, and multiple-member Limited Liability Company, which will have more than one stakeholder. These owners can be private individuals or companies, depending on the requirements of a given investor.

Time to establish

Under the laws of Vietnam, setup time for a Limited Liability Company (100% Foreign-Owned Enterprise) will be divided into two stages:

  • Obtain Investment Registration Certificate: about 15 working days
  • Obtain Enterprise Registration Certificate: about 03 working days

3. Branch Office

Branch offices  in Vietnam are limited to certain types of service businesses, such as finance and banking. Branch offices are service providers and provide services other than those specified in specialized legislative documents . Branch offices may also hire staff directly.

Branch Offices are permitted to engage in the following activities:

  • Rent offices;
  • Lease or purchase the equipment and facilities required for operations;
  • Recruit local and foreign employees;
  • Remit profits abroad;
  • Purchase and sell goods and commercial activities per licensing;
  • Set up accounting, marketing, and HR departments to represent the parent company.

Requirements and registered capital

The Branch office will need to obtain an establishment license and have a seal with the name of the parent company. The Branch office  will also need to appoint a branch manager who is a Vietnam resident.


Foreign companies may appoint a manager from their countries of origin; however, this employee must get a Vietnam work permit to be hired as a Branch office manager.

Time to establish

Branch office can be set up within 07 working days (excluding the time for seeking approval from other departments if required).

4. Joint Venture

A Joint Venture is a partnership of companies that are created for a specific business purpose. The owning partners of a foreign-invested Joint Venture can comprise at least two foreign entities or at least one foreign and at least one local entity.


Statutory guidelines on foreign ownership, impose a minimum contribution of 30 percent. Beyond this, foreign investors may choose a majority stake with ownership exceeding 50 percent, or a minority share ownership of less than 50 percent in most sectors, given that most industries are open to up to 100% foreign ownership. However, the government also mandates minimum contributions for domestic partners in Joint Venture in some industries.

These business fields require a foreign investor to form a joint-venture with a local partner to enter the market:

  • Advertising services;
  • Agriculture, hunting, and forestry related services;
  • Telecommunication services;
  • Travel agencies; Tour operator services; Entertainment services;
  • Electronic gaming businesses;
  • Container handling; Customs clearance services; Auxiliary transport services;
  • Internal waterways transport, rail and road transport services.

For investors purchasing stakes in state-owned enterprises equitized on Vietnam’s exchanges, the JSC structure is required.

Requirements and registered capital

The capital requirements for Joint Venture are the same as for 100% Foreign-Owned Enterprise

Time to establish

Under the laws of Vietnam, setup time for a 100 % Limited liability companies will be divided into two stages:

  • Obtain Investment Registration Certificate: about 15 working days
  • Obtain Enterprise Registration Certificate: about 03 working days

However, the time it takes to find a Joint Venture parter, conduct appropriate checks and due diligences, and negotiate a deal may take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. 

5. Public Private Partnership

A Public Private Partnership (PPPs) entails a partnership between a foreign or domestic enterprise and the government for the completion of key infrastructure projects. Vietnamese authorities are aggressively pursuing PPPs for a variety of infrastructure projects as a means of filling gaps left by a reduced role of state-owned enterprise, rising population, and increasing urbanization.

The types of PPPs are:

  • Build – Transfer – Operate (BTO);
  • Build – Lease – Transfer (BT);
  • Build – Operate – Transfer (BOT);
  • Operate – Manage (O&M);
  • Build – Own – Operate (BOO);
  • Build – Transfer – Lease (BTL); and
  • Mixed type. 
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