When moving to a new country on a long-term basis, one of the first things that you may want to do is open a local bank account. This is especially important if you have recently acquired a job and will need an account for your regular salary to be paid into.
The banking infrastructure in Vietnam is actually straightforward to use and relatively modern. Just like in the west, ATM machines are readily available and internet banking is provided with the majority of current accounts.
Although Vietnam continuous to be a cash-based economy, expatriates will find that major credit cards, showing the Visa or MasterCard logo, will be accepted at major retail outlets, hotels and restaurants.
If you decide to open an account with one of the local Vietnamese branches, you will find that the staff are very friendly and willing to help. However, a number of expats prefer to open accounts with one of the many international banks that operate in the country. This include HSBC and ANZ, Citibank, Common Wealth, etc..
Banking in Vietnam
The banking system in the country is very efficient. You should find that most banks have at least one English speaking representative.
If you have an account already with one of the many international banks that have a presence in the major cities, you may choose to keep them as your main banking provider. Expats looking to open an account with a local bank may wish to choose Vietcombank which is a popular choice amongst the expat community.
Each bank will offer a range of different packages so it is worth doing some research first about what type of account and package will be of most benefit to you.
Most banks will have an English brochure outlining the different packages and services on offer.
ATM’s in Vietnam
In the major cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, ATM machines are widely available. If you are based in a rural area or smaller town, they may be harder to locate.
Expats are always advised to carry enough cash with them if they are to venture out of the city and into rural areas.
The majority of ATM machines let you withdraw up to VND 20,000,000 million each time.
If you do plan to use a credit card, always carry cash with you as a backup just in case.
Money in Vietnam
The official currency used in Vietnam is the Dong (VND) it can be found in the following denominations:
Notes: VND 500,000; VND 200,000 VND 100,000, VND 50,000, VND 20,000, VND 10,000, VND 5,000, VND 2,000, VND 1,000, VND 500 and VND 200.
Coins: VND 5,000, VND 2,000, VND 1,000, VND 500 and VND 200
The USD is also widely accepted in the major cities.
Taxes in Vietnam
There are currently 4 different categories of taxpayer in Vietnam, of which 2 apply to an expatriate:
- Individuals who reside in the country indefinitely but do not have Vietnamese citizenship.
- Foreigners who work in the country, including those who have income sourced in Vietnam but do not live in the country.
When a foreigner lives in the country for 6 months (183 days) or more during a 12 month period, they have to abide by the same tax laws that local people have to abide by. When residing for this amount of time, the foreigner is deemed a resident.
Taxes in Vietnam have changed a lot over recent years, so it is always best to check with your employer about the current situation regarding income tax.
A few other important notes regarding banking in Vietnam
Unless it is your legal income with proof provided (work contract, work permit) or the money that you bring from overseas to deposit (accepted if expatriate provides the bank a stamped arrival card at the airport to prove it), then it is not allowed to transfer out of the country.
In order to have a bank account opened in Vietnam, expatriates have to provide proof of residence to the bank – which they can request from their landlords.
No foreign currency is allowed to be transferred within the country – according to the government regulations. All transfers will be converted into local currency. ATM machines do not provide foreign currency. Expatriates would have to present themselves to the bank teller with their passport to withdraw cash in foreign currency.
Vietnamese landlords are not allowed to transfer housing deposits back to an account overseas. If you pay a Vietnamese landlord foreign currency for your house lease deposit from your personal account, try to request a cash refund in the same currency or local currency.
Otherwise, a transfer in local currency will be made to your company. If it is made to your personal account, the bank still does not qualify this a legal income source that you can bring out of the country. If all deposits are handled through your entity in Vietnam, then it is much simpler for local currency to be refunded to the company account.