Representative office (RO) is a suitable vehicle for a foreign investor who needs a limited commercial presence in Vietnam to serve as liaising office, conduct market researches, explore new opportunities and monitor contract performance. Legally, the RO does not have independent legal person status and is considered as part of the company that the RO represents in Vietnam. However, a RO licence should allow the RO to hire talents, offices and open bank accounts for spending in its own name.
The most drawback is that a RO cannot have its own business. At law, a RO is not allowed to enter into and perform revenue generating contracts. In practice, there is certain flexibility for a RO to enter into and perform contracts on behalf of the head-office. In addition, technically, a RO can only act as a RO of one legal person. Therefore, a RO may not be able to act as a RO for companies of the same group.
On 28 December 2018, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) issued Circular 42 amending current foreign currency borrowing regulations (in Circular 24 of the SBV dated 8 December 2015, as amended from time to time (Circular 24/2015)) (Circular 42/2018). Circular 42/2018 will take effect from 1 January 2019.
Changes to permitted lending purpose
Vietnamese banks only lend in foreign currency for a few limited purposes. Circular 42/2018 has following changes to these purposes:
On 20 June 2018, the Ministry of Justice issued Circular 8 on the registration and provision of information on security interest and contracts (Circular 8/2018). Circular 8/2018 will replace Circular 5/2011 on the same subject from 4 August 2018.
Name of the object of the registration
The object of registration under Circular 5/2011 is secured transactions (giao dịch bảo đảm), which is in line with the Civil Code 2005. However, the term “secured transaction” is almost removed from the Civil Code 2015 and the registration is now the registration of security interest (biện pháp bảo đảm). Circular 8/2018 adopts such approach and determined the object of registration is security interest to be consistent with the new Civil Code 2015.