What is illegal Things in Vietnam: Rules & Laws for Tourists
What is Illegal Things to Do in Vietnam? Some things that are illegal in Vietnam for both locals and tourists include: carrying weapons and other potentially injurious items such as Guns, Knives, Explosives, Flammable Materials; Prostitution, Gambling, Pornography, Drug Use and Distribution,.. . Vietnamese Laws and Regulations are built based on the long-standing culture and the characteristics of the local lifestyle of Vietnamese. It has the big differences compared to other countries, especially America, Australasia and European countries. Read on to discover our list of 20 laws and prohibited items you must Know before traveling to Vietnam.
1. Register Yourself When You get to Vietnam: Whether you’re an ex-pat or just a visitor and tourist, as long as you’re a foreign citizen, you are required by Vietnamese laws to register with the local authority when you move into a residence. As a tourist, your hotel/hostel/resort usually takes care of this for you (That is why they ask for your passport with visa). But for ex-pats who are here for the long haul, your landlord is required to do it.
2. Taking photos, video, draw at some places are not allowed: Tourists are free to take photos, videos and draw at popular tourist attractions and public places such as parks, monuments, museums, walking streets, theaters, markets, etc.
Certainly, you should follow the rules at the places where there are no photo signs (some rooms in museums, some supermarkets, shopping centers, events, conferences, theaters). The staff will warn you if you break the rules. Sometimes, there are no photo signs at museums but you are allowed to take photos if you pay camera fees.
In some places, capturing photos and videos or drawing maps, diagrams, plots are permitted or need to ask for permission because it may violate the privacy of others or reveal state secrets. The person who breaks the laws faces charges from VND 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 for the action. All of the documents, exhibits and facilities such as cameras, smartphones, video cameras, memory cards, computers, drawings, prints are confiscated. The photos, drawings and videos will be deleted from websites and Youtube channels. You will break the laws if you take photos, videos or draw in the following areas:
- Institutions, factories, construction sites, farms, plantations without permission.
- Military bases, defense bases, military exercises, and other military activities.
- Railway stations, airports, ports, water infrastructures, bridges for trains and vehicles, tunnels.
- Institutes of science and technology, energy plantations, water supply systems, power stations, telegraph offices, post offices, power transformers, radio stations, television stations.
- Vietnam’s border areas, coasts, islands, territorial waters except for famous landscapes, tourist attractions, historic sites, resorts in the areas.
- Vietnam’s territory from above (airplanes, helicopters, hydroplanes).
Certainly, you can take some nice photos of your groups or yourself with your smartphone, camera or video camera at stations and airports.
3. Not to join a large crowd as you can get caught up: Vietnamese people and foreigners can be caught up if they join crowds causing social anxiety disorder. Anyone faces a charge from VND 500,000 to 1,000,000 if he is in a group or crowd which causes social disorder. So that you should stay away from:
- The crowd in which some of them drink too much or fight each other. Drinking in Vietnam is fun, enjoying some bottles or canes of beers and a few glasses of wines alone or with your partners at local restaurants and bars is one of the great things to do in the country. Avoid getting drunk and involving in any argue or fight.
- The crowd cheering on Vietnam national football team, some of them may get overheated and do extreme actions such as firing flares. They usually gather and watch football matches in walking streets (Nguyen Hue, Bui Vien, Ta Hien), squares (Cach Mang Thang Tam), coffee shops, etc.
- The crowd flying sky lanterns without permission.
In Vietnam, protests are illegal because they are against the government and disrupt public order. Anyone in the crowd of protestors will be arrested without any reason. Sometimes, people of the crowd are not protestors but participants and supporters of a contest, events or festivals. If you do not know exactly about the purpose of a crowd gathering in a place and bringing banners, never join them or stand in the crowd. Ask someone around you to learn more about the crowd.
4. International Driver licensed may not be valid in Vietnam: More and more foreigners including tourists and expats plan to ride motorcycles in Vietnam. Most of them wonder if they can drive in Vietnam with their domestic or international driving license. The answer can be yes or no. You are allowed to drive in Vietnam if you have an IAA driver’s license or IDP driver’s license and being citizen of one of the countries which signed Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. You must have a visa that is valid for a period of fewer than 3 months in Vietnam. You should carry both IAA (IDP) driving license and domestic driving license issued by your country, passport and visa when driving in Vietnam.
You are not allowed to drive in Vietnam although you have an international driving license in the following cases:
- Your visa is valid for a period of more than 3 months.
- You have an IDP driver’s license but you are from a country that did not sign Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.
5. Motorbike is not allowed more than two people or bulky items: A motorbike in Vietnam is allowed to carry a maximum of two adults and one child under 14 years old. Three adults are not prohibited if one of them is sick and they are on the way to a hospital or they escort someone criminals. Driver is subject to a fine which is from VND 100,000 to 200,000 if he drives 2 people on the back of the motorbike. Driver is subject to a fine which is from VND 300,000 to 400,000 and your motorbike driven license is lost in 1 – 3 months if he drives from 3 people on the back of the motorbike. For more information, the same rule is applied for bicycle, motorized bicycle, cyclo. The fine is from VND 60,000 to 80,000.
6. Legal drinking and driving age is 18: Selling alcoholic beverages to people under 18 or driving when you are under 18 is against Vietnamese laws. Lawbreakers face charges from VND 500,000 to 1,000,000. So that you should bring a photocopy of your passport with you when you go out for buying alcoholic beverages at supermarkets, convenience stores or drinking at bars and restaurants. If you look younger than 18, they may ask you to show the document which proves that you are 18+.
7. Do not drive after you drink: The new law on preventing and combating the harmful effects of any liquor took effect on 1st January 2020. Drunk drivers face tougher fines and license suspensions. Bicyclists, motorcyclists and motor car drivers having more than zero alcohol content in their breath or blood are subject to fines from VND 80,000 to 40,000,000. Bicyclists and automobile car drivers also lose their driven licenses for up to 2 years if they break the laws. Do not drive bicycle, motorbike or car after drinking.
8. Not to say anything against Vietnam government and Communist Party: All speakings and acts against Vietnam government and the Communist Party are not allowed. Speaking against the government and the Vietnamese Communist Party is speaking against the nation. Violators are caught up, charged and even prisoned. There are many laws restrict human rights including freedom of association, freedom of speech. As mentioned above, protests against the government are also prohibited. Some foreigners are surprised about the laws. However, the highlight of the law is that Vietnam is very peaceful, crime and violence are reduced.
You should avoid speaking anything against the government of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Communist Party when you are in the country. It is better to stay away from any talk about sensitive topics. It is not good for you to talk about politics when you are in Vietnam. Discuss on Nguyen Cao Ky Ngo Dinh Diem, Nguyen Van Thieu and many others who ruled South Vietnam, Uncle Ho – President Ho Chi Minh, President Ton Duc Thang, ex-general Vo Nguyen Giap and current leaders of Vietnam or abuse of the country’s symbols is not recommended.
9. Do not post sensitive pilitical ideas on social media: You may be allowed to post anything in your country but you should be careful when posting something about Vietnam on your websites and social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, Youtube, etc.
The Network Security Code consisting of laws about the acts of national security protection, order guarantee and social safety on the Internet, responsibilities of related organs took effect in Vietnam on 1st January 2019. The Vietnamese government aims to restrict people from hurting other people and national security. Be careful when you post the following topics on social media in the S-shaped country:
- Racism, sexism, history, religion, politics, social order.
- Information and news which you are not sure about the accuracy.
- Entice other people to violate laws.
For example, if the posts are against the government, party and leaders, you may be punished in some ways. Unless you are not caught or fined, you may be in trouble for your videos, photos, statuses, comments which may draw a furious public response.
10. Prostitution is illegal in Vietnam: Prostitution is legal in some countries, but not Vietnam. Although you can see many sexy girls seducing and would like to get paid for sex, it is illegal to pay for sex in Vietnam. In case you accept her offer, she takes you to a hotel where she is protected by some gangs. Problems may happen, you can get caught by the police or attacked by gangsters. Just stay away form beautiful girls wearing sexy clothes and trying to canvass for customers.
Vietnamese Porn and Nude Fine of between VND 500,000 and 5,000,000 are charged for the acts of buying sex with one or more people at the same time. A fine of between VND 5,000,000 and 10,000,000 are charged for the act of coercing or enticing other people to buy. The person who deliberately spread HIV and other diseases by buying sex is considered criminal and punished in Vietnam.
11. Pornography is illegal in Vietnam: According to Vietnam’s Criminal Code, spreading and disseminating unhealthy cultural products like porn movies, nude photos,... is illegal in Vietnam. Unhealthy cultural products include newspapers, magazines, movies, photos containing violating and sexual content. All of the acts of purchasing, storing, transporting, spreading these products are subject to penalties.
Some foreigners carry pornographic materials in your luggage. They may have problems with the immigration customsf at airports or the Vietnamese police on their trips. You should also do not buy unhealthy cultural products when you are in Vietnam for reading, watching and carrying them with you.
12. Gambling is illegal for everyone in Vietnam: If you ask a Vietnamese person whether it is illegal to gamble in their country, they may answer no. In fact, Vietnamese people are allowed to gamble on a three-year trial under Decree No. No. 03/2017/ND-CP. Foreigners can gamble without violating Vietnamese laws if they have foreign passports and are 18 years old or above. The acts that break the rules at casinos in Vietnam include:
- You will be warned for non-compliance if you cause disorder, threaten the security and safety of the casinos.
- Use the results of prize-winning games to bet with other players at the casinos.
- If you do not comply with the game rules, internal rules, fulfill tax obligations, regulations of relevant internal management, you will be fined from VND 20,000,000 to 30,000,000.
- A fine ranging between VND 90,000,000 and 100,000,000 VND is charged and forced to return illegal profits for the acts of fraud when gambling.
13. Not to bring or keep guns, explosives & weapons in Vietnam: Some countries like Swiss, Finland, Serbia, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and others allow citizens to own guns. In Vietnam, carrying guns and other potentially injurious items such as knives, guns, explosives, flammable materials is illegal.
14. Drug is illegal for everyone: Drugs are not allowed in Vietnam and a large number of countries in the world because they harm the health, national security and social order. According to the Criminal Code 2015, leaves, roots, stems, branches, flowers, marijuana fruit or coca leaves, dried poppy fruit and fresh opium fruit, heroine, cocaine, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine, MDMA, opium resin, marijuana resin or cocaine resin other narcotic substances in solid and liquid form are considered drugs in Vietnam.
The acts of producing, storing, transporting, buying, selling, distributing, importing, exporting drugs are considered criminals and subject to punishment. A Vietnamese criminal can ask you to keep a bag for him, the bag may contain drugs so that never agree to help him.
15. Funky Ball & Shisha are not allowed: There is no law that stipulating funky balls and shisha tobacco in Vietnam. However, it is not recommended to use these stimulants. Funky balls may create a sense of euphoria and shishas cause potential health effects. It is dangerous to enjoy funky balls and shishas at complicated bars, restaurants, cafes, karaoke which are places for criminals to gather in Vietnam.
16. Getting married with less than 18 years old girls, 20 years old boy & having sex with person aged less than 16 is illegal: Most of the foreigners know how old their future brides/grooms are and Vietnamese people also know the law on marriage. So that the majority of future brides and grooms know if they are allowed to get married.
However, a few foreign men may do not know the exact age of his new girlfriend or a girl he has just met and accidentally makes love with. Nowadays, lots of Vietnamese girls look mature, some of them look older than their age and hide about their age. A person is imprisoned for 1-5 years for having sex with people aged 13 to 16. If the victim tells the police that she was raped, the criminal will be imprisoned for 7-15 years. Do not sleep with any Vietnamese person without knowing her/his age. As mentioned above, a foreigner and a Vietnamese person can not share one hotel room. Some hotels break the laws and let them stay together. You are not allowed to make love with a person aged under 16 at any place including house and apartment.
17. Gold, Foreign Currencies & Alcohols need to be declared at customs: Passengers must declare at customs if they carry more than 300 grams of gold, or more than $5,000 US dollars, or VND 15,000,000. For more information, passengers are requested to declare at custom in case they carry the following things:
- Unaccompanied luggage.
- Goods temporarily dispatched or admitted.
- Over 1.5 liters of liquor with alcohol content higher than 20%, over 2 liters of liquor with alcohol content lower than 20%, over 3 liters of alcoholic drinks and beers.
- Over 20 cigars, over 200 cigarettes, over 250 grams of raw tobacco.
- Other items that cost over VND 10,000,000.
Cash in any currencies, gold, gemstones, precious metal, negotiable instrument:
- Over VND 15,000,000, USD 5,000 or equivalents.
- Gemstones (ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald), precious metals (silver, platinum, alloy with silver or platinum), drafts, cheques with a total value from VND 300,000,000.
- Passengers with border laissez-passer, border identity cards wear gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
- Foreigners are allowed to settle in Vietnam bring raw gold, gold bars, gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
- Vietnamese citizens are allowed to settle abroad bring raw gold, gold bars, gold jewelry or art gold with a total weight of 300 grams or more.
- Incoming passengers who bring foreign currencies with value of $5,000 dollars or less require customs authentication.
18. You Need a work permit to work in Vietnam: Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually technically illegal to work in Vietnam if you have only tourist visa. You do need a full-fledged work permit if you’re a foreign workers, and the maximum validity of one is two years. The work permit is usually handled by the company that you work for. To aid your application, you’ll need a degree, a letter of referral from a respected company, proven experience in your field, and a valid health check.
19. You can buy and own property but not land: If you think of buying a nice plot of land to build a house, you can’t do it here. According to Vietnamese Rules, you can buy and own a house but not land. So you can still live that dream to buy a house, but the land never belong to you and you will have to lease it. Land leases in Vietnam last a maximum of 50 years, after which you can renew the lease without the rent being increased. So yes, you can own the property as long as you lease the land but you can never own the land.
20. You’re not allowed to export the antiques: Fancy that antique that you saw in Vietnam that has been around for about 200 years? Bad news is that you can’t bring it back home. Well, not unless you can get a permit from the Ministry of Culture. It is illegal to export any antiques from Vietnam without a permit, so your best course of action is to speak to the ministry of Culture to get further advice on what you can do if you really like that vase and can already picture it in your living room back home.
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