How to trade hand-carried goods in order not to be considered as contraband?

“Hand-carried goods” is not a legal term but is commonly called by consumers. This concept is implicitly understood as goods that are brought into Vietnam by acquaintances abroad, individuals traveling abroad, etc., who “carried” or sent them back to Vietnam as luggage. Especially, in recent years, the business of “hand-carried goods” has become more and more popular, even favored by both sellers and consumers for many reasons but mainly due to the authenticity of products, guaranteed quality, and cheaper price as not being subject to import taxes.

However, not any act of “hand-carrying” goods from abroad is legal trading. Selling “hand-carried goods” is only considered a legal activity if the conditions of the law are met. If not, these “hand-carried goods” will be considered contraband. As a result, the seller will have to bear heavy fines according to the law.

How to trade hand-carried goods in order NOT TO BE CONSIDERED CONTRABAND? 

Clause 6, Article 3 of Decree No.98/2020/ND-CP stipulates that contraband goods include:

  • Imported goods included in the list of goods banned from import or temporarily suspended from import as prescribed by law, unless they are imported under the Prime Minister’s permission;
  • Goods imported WITHOUT going through a prescribed port or WITHOUT following customs procedures as prescribed by law, or the information on quantities or types of which is falsified when following customs procedures;
  • Imports circulated in the market WITHOUT invoices and documents as prescribed by law, or having unlawful invoices and documents under the  laws on invoices management;
  • Goods imported under license but NOT HAVING the required license;
  • Goods imported under conditions without meeting given import conditions as prescribed by law;
  • Imports that are subject to labeling as prescribed by law but imported WITHOUT bearing stamps as prescribed or bearing false or used stamps.

Therefore, to sell “hand-carried goods” without being fined, the above conditions must be met. If you fail to comply with the laws, they shall be considered “contraband goods” and you will be sanctioned as follows:

Fines for trading contraband goods?

Pursuant to Article 15 of Decree 98/2020/ND-CP, the following fines shall be imposed for trading contraband goods:

No The value of contraband goods Fines
1 Less than VND 3,000,000 From VND 500,000 to VND 1,000,000
2 From VND 3,000,000 to under VND 5,000,000 From VND 1,000,000 to VND 2,000,000
3 From VND 5,000,000 to under VND 10,000,000 From VND 2,000,000 to VND 4,000,000
4 From VND 10,000,000 to under VND 20,000,000 From VND 4,000,000 to VND 6,000,000
5 From VND 20,000,000 to under VND 30,000,000 From VND 6,000,000 to VND 10,000,000
6 From VND 30,000,000 to under VND 50,000,000 From VND 10,000,000 to VND 20,000,000
7 From VND 50,000,000 to under VND 70,000,000 From VND 20,000,000 to VND 30,000,000
8 From VND 70,000,000 to under VND 100,000,000 From VND 30,000,000 to VND 40,000,000
9 VND 100,000,000 or more From VND 40,000,000 to VND 50,000,000
  • The fine that is TWICE AS MUCH AS the corresponding fine for trading contraband goods stated above shall be imposed in the following cases:
  • The violating entity DIRECTLY involves in the illegal import of goods worth less than VND 100,000,000 or VND 100,000,000 or more, if not liable to criminal prosecution;
  • The contraband goods are included in the list of goods banned from import or temporarily suspended from import;
  • The contraband goods are foods, food additives, food processing aids, food preservatives, preventive drugs, drugs, medicinal ingredients, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals, insecticidal and microbicidal preparations for household and medical use, aqua environmental remediation products, livestock waste treatment products, veterinary drugs, fertilizers, cement, animal feeds, pesticides, growth stimulants, plant varieties or animal breeds.
  • In addition, the monetary fines stated above shall be also imposed for:
  • Deliberate act of transporting contraband goods;
  • Deliberate act of storing contraband goods;
  • Deliberate act of delivering contraband goods.
  • In addition, under some specific circumstances, violating individuals and organizations are also subject to additional penalties such as confiscation of material evidence, means of transport, and is compelled to return any benefits illegally obtained from one of the violations (if any).



Besides, the act of trading “contraband goods” can also face criminal prosecution for the crime of Smuggling under Article 188 of the Criminal Code 2015 amended and supplemented in 2017.

From the above analysis, it can be seen that the sanctions for trading contraband goods are strict. Therefore, before trading “hand-carried goods”, it is crucial to find out legal regulations to ensure that the business complies with the law.


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