Vietnam, like all civilized societies, is governed by a strict set of laws. The visitor to Vietnam should at least have a basic understanding of what they these rules and laws are. Here are some of them with which you should be familiar.
1. When spending the night in a hotel all foreigners are required to register with the local police. This is why you must leave your passport with the place you stay for they are required to register you with the police.
If your renting from a landlord then the landlord is required to register you. In this way everyone is accounted for by the police as is required by the Vietnamese law.
2. Surprisingly it is illegal to have more than two people riding on a motorbike. Often times you will see a family of three or more riding on a motorbike.When you do just be aware that they are breaking the law.
Like most other countries in the world a driver’s license is required to legally drive a vehicle. You can actually obtain one from the local authorities.
3. In order to be legally employed you must have a work permit. It is not legal to be working with only a tourist visa. The company that hires you will arrange the work permit. In addition, certain jobs require that you have a college degree and a letter of referral from the company which hires you.
4. When starting a new business you must have at least $30,000 deposited in a legitimate bank. It is highly recommended that you hire a Vietnamese attorney who is well versed in business law. It is important to do your due diligence when beginning your new company so as to do things legally and correctly thereby increasing your chances for success.
5. Foreigners can buy houses and buildings but they cannot buy raw land. You are permitted to lease raw land for up to 50 years but you can’t buy it. When the 50 years expires you can then begin a new lease at the same rental rate.
6. It is illegal to work more than 10 hours a day or more than 48 hours in a week. So yes it is possible to break the law when working for yourself by working too many hours at a time.
7. Like in America the legal drinking age is 18 years of age.
8. When starting a new job the maximum probationary period is 30 days. For a job requiring a college level qualification the probationary period is a maximum of 60 days. The minimum pay while on probation is at least 85% of the positions official wage.
9. Gambling is only legal in government licensed casinos. Entrance to these casinos is restricted to holders of foreign passports. Vietnamese citizens who violate these laws are subject to steep fines and even prison sentences.
10. It is illegal to import pornography into Vietnam. The Vietnamese believe that such pornographic material harms traditional Vietnamese values and do not want it being imported into the country.
11. It is against the law to export antiques from Vietnam without a permit from the Ministry of Culture. You will need to go to the trouble of obtaining the permit if you want to export an item and avoid big trouble.
12. Using drugs in Vietnam is definitely illegal. Even though you may observe drugs being commonly used it is still a dangerous activity for visitors to partake in. Penalties for drug offenses in Vietnam are quite severe. For example merely using heroin can result lengthy prison sentences and even in some cases the death penalty being assessed against the user. These laws have actually been stiffened in recent years.
13. Believe it or not prostitution is actually a chargeable offense in Vietnam—-both for the prostitute and the John. If you want to drive away annoying girls just yell at them that you are actually a gay and watch them disappear.
14. It is illegal to take pictures near a military installation. This could result in your camera being confiscated and you even being deported. In addition do not take pictures during political demonstrations especially if you’re a foreigner unless you want to risk being quickly deported.
15. Just in case your bitten by the “love bug” you need to know that the legal age for a girl to marry is 18 years of age and 20 years of age for a boy.
16. Don’t linger to close to the border. Just like lingering around a military installation is not advisable lingering around certain places near the border. When visiting small border towns be sure and carry a photo I.D. This is not merely a suggestion but is actually the law.
Being familiar with these and other laws is a very good idea. Knowing these laws and just using your common sense will go a long ways towards keeping you out of trouble. Visitors who are familiar with Vietnamese rules and laws and who know the basics of the legal system in Vietnam are more likely to stay away from problems and have a more enjoyable time while visiting Vietnam.