1. Competent authority
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
1. Management of fisheries and aquatic products (including amphibians) as below:
2. Inspection, quarantine, risk analysis during import process
Ministry of Health (MOH)
Vietnam Directorate of Market Surveillance Under Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT)
General Department of Vietnam Customs
Generally speaking, MARD is the responsible authority supervising aquatic product. But products containing aquatic product as ingredient may be subject to the jurisdiction of other departments like NHC and MOIT, as per Decree No. 15/2018/ND-CP of the Government: Detailing the Implementation of a Number of Articles of the Law on Food Safety. For example, fish oil products sold as functional food are subject to the management of the MOH.
2. Market access approval
Enterprises shall check the following compliance points before selling their products to Vietnam.
2.1 Permitted & prohibited products
Types of aquatic species permitted for trading in Vietnam are listed in the Annex VIII of Decree 26/2019/ND-CP, which serves as a guidelines for implementation of the Law on Fisheries. On December 12, 2023, Vietnam issued a list of aquatic breeds subject to necessary import.
In case of importing aquatic species that are not listed in the Annex of permitted aquatic species (Annex III of Decree 26/2019/ND-CP) for scientific research or display at fairs or exhibition, the importation approval must be obtained from the Directorate of Fisheries of MARD following Decree 26/2019/ND-CP.
Circular 25/2018/TT-BNNPTNT also provides some exceptions for import of live aquatic animals and plants not included in the list of aquatic species permitted for trade in Vietnam.
Furthermore, Decree No.69/2018/ND-CP, which stipulates specific articles in the Law on Foreign Trade Management, identifies products prohibited from being imported to Vietnam (please refer to Appendix II of this Decree).
2.2 Requirements for exporting country and exporter
Before selling products to Vietnam, overseas enterprises shall ensure that the exporting country and exporter have obtained the approval of exporting aquatic products to Vietnam. This requirement is stipulated in Decree No. 15/2018/ND-CP of the Government: Detailing the Implementation of a Number of Articles of the Law on Food Safety, later partially amended by Decree No. 155/2018/ND-CP.
For importers, as they are only allowed to import permitted products from permitted exporting countries/enterprises to Vietnam, they are required to check the list of permitted exporting countries and exporters here.
For exporting country or/and exporter that are not in this list and want to trade aquatic products to Vietnam, the competent authority of the exporting country shall send an application and/or a list of manufacturers to MARD. MARD will conduct an inspection and give the inspection result. The registration procedure for such case is specified at Article 22 of Decree No. 15/2018/ND-CP.
Please note that processed or prepackaged foods are exempted from the above requirements.
2.3 Certificate of satisfaction of food safety conditions
As per Vietnam’s Law No. 55/2010/QH12 on Food Safety, food trading establishments in Vietnam are required to meet conditions outlined in Chapter IV of this law pertaining to premises, storage, transportation and trading of food products.
Especially, all food traders of aquatic food must obtain the Certificate of Satisfaction of Food Safety Conditions from the MARD, except:
They are sellers of prepackaged foods;
They have one of the following valid certificates: GMP, HACCP, ISO22000, IFS, BRC, FSSC 22000 or an equivalent certificate;
Other situations specified by Article 2, Circular 38/2018/TT-BNNPTNT prescribing assessment and certification of compliance with food safety regulations of agro-forestry-fishery food manufacturing and trading businesses under the management of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
2.4 Self-declaration for processed/prepackaged aquatic products imported for consumption as food
Importers need to finish self-declaration for prepackaged and processed aquatic products as per Decree No. 15/2018/ND-CP (partially amended by Decree No. 155/2018/ND-CP) before products arrive at the Customs Gate. Other aquatic products are not subject to self-declaration as per Article 4 of Decree 15/2018/ND-CP.
General procedures for self-declaration:
Food traders submit to the competent authority a dossier for self-declaration of conformity of the product. If the dossier is complete and in accordance with the regulations, the competent authority will upload the product’s information on their public system. If the dossier is not satisfactory with the requirements, it will be returned by the authority for correction.
At the same time, the food trader shall announce the declared dossier about the product at the company's headquarters, upload to their website, or publish on mass media.
Right after the self-declaration is made, the supplier is entitled to manufacture and sell the product and assume full responsibility for the safety of such product.
Needed materials include:
The self-declaration form (Form No. 01 in Appendix I of Decree No. 15/2018);
The original copy or the certified true copy of the food safety data sheet issued by a designated laboratory or a laboratory complying with ISO 17025 within 12 months before the self-declaration is made.
2.5 Inspection & quarantine and required licenses
Aquatic species and aquatic products in Vietnam are managed by both the Law on Fishery and the Law on Food Safety without clear separation of application scenarios. According to current practice, all aquatic products, including processed and unprocessed items, when imported into Vietnam, must undergo certain inspection. In general, if the processed/prepacked aquatic product is imported for consumption as food, only state inspection as to food safety is required. However, for live or unprocessed aquatic products, aquatic products imported for purposes such as breeding or raw material for production or other purposes, quarantine inspection is mandatory. Furthermore, other approvals may be required for certain types of products.
When importing into Vietnam, aquatic products are required to have a certificate of food safety issued by a competent authority of the exporting country (except for fish caught and processed by foreign vessels and sold to Vietnam’s market and processed/pre-packed aquatic products).
2.5.1 Quarantine & risk analysis
Before the products arrive at the Customs Gate, importers shall apply for quarantine certificates, risk analysis, and other permits that may apply. Sampling inspection may be necessary upon the arrival of products at the Customs Gate.
Certain aquatic animals and animal products are subject to quarantine, risk analysis & inspection when being imported into Vietnam. The list of such products can be found at Appendices of Circular 26/2016/TT-BNNPTNT & detailed at part 6 of Annex I of Circular 15/2018/TT-BNNPTNT. While it is not explicitly exempted from quarantine requirements in the specified list, the Department of Animal Health of the MARD has confirmed that processed/prepackaged aquatic products are not subject to animal quarantine.
Quarantine and risk analysis procedure are provided in Circular 26/2016/TT-BNNPTNT and further amended by Circular 36/2018/TT-BNNPTNT, Circular 06/2022/TT-BNNPTNT and Circular 11/2019/TT-BNNPTNT (i.e. consolidated versions Nos. 07/VBHN-BNNPTNT dated 16 December 2020 & 06/VBHN-BNNPTNT dated 20 September 2022).
For importing live aquatic animals not included in the list of aquatic species permitted for trading in Vietnam, enterprise responsible for the importation need to obtain a license from the MARD. Risk assessment may be required when requesting an import permit:
§ Risk assessment is required: Live aquatic animals imported for the first time for consumption, ornamental, or entertainment purpose;
§ No risk assessment is required for the following cases:
- Live aquatic animals imported for consumption, ornamental, and entertainment purpose that have already undergone a risk assessment;
- Live aquatic animals imported for scientific research;
- Live aquatic animals imported for display at fairs and exhibitions.
Application materials and application procedures can be found in Circular No. 25/2018/TT-BNNPTNT stipulating the order and procedures for risk assessment, license to import live aquatic animals and plants.
For importing aquatic species that are not listed in the Annex of permitted aquatic species for scientific research or display at fairs and exhibition, import permit must be obtained from the Directorate of Fisheries of MARD. Application materials and procedure for this matter are provided at Article 22 of Decree 26/2019/ND-CP.
There are also specific regulations regarding the importation and trade of aquatic species that are considered endangered, precious and rare according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Vietnam. For example, such products need to be accompanied by CITES permit, etc. Details of specific species falling under these categories can be found in appendix II of Decree 26/2019/ND-CP.
2.5.2 State inspection on food safety
In general, processed/prepacked aquatic products imported for consumption as food are subject to this inspection. However, exemption of food safety inspection is applied in some certain cases as provided by Article 13 of Decree 15/2018/ND-CP.
Detailed procedure of food safety inspection upon importation are indicated in chapter VI of Decree 15/2018/ND-CP, which guides the implementation of the Law on Food Safety.
Legal basis for food safety inspection and quarantine/risk analysis are as follows:
State inspection of imported food safety
Quarantine & risk analysis requirements
3. Product compliance
Food products shall satisfy general food safety conditions specified in
Besides the regulations above, it is important to follow specialized regulations for certain products as well as safety and hygiene requirements.
Safety and hygiene requirements
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