How to open a restaurant in Vietnam as a foreigner - A step by step guide for foreign investors

Have you ever thought about opening a restaurant in Vietnam? It is not uncommon for foreigners living in Vietnam to consider starting a restaurant, given the country’s highly regarded culinary scene and diverse population of both locals and tourists with varying tastes.

According to a research report, the Vietnam food service market is expected to experience strong growth over the next five years, from 2022 to 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 9.7%. This growth is due to various factors, including the increasing popularity of dining out among young people, affordable food prices, and the availability of diverse ethnic cuisines.

If you are a foreign investor interested in opening a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be happy to know that the country allows foreign investors to open their independent restaurants, not associated with hotel projects. Here’s a quick guide on the steps you will need to take to open a restaurant in Vietnam.

You can choose from two business options when planning to open a restaurant in Vietnam:

  1. Opening a new restaurant in Vietnam (up to 100% foreign-owned)
  2. Investing in an established restaurant

Opening a new restaurant in Vietnam (up to 100% foreign-owned)

If you want to open a new foreign-owned restaurant in Vietnam, Emerhub applies for the following licenses on your behalf:

  1. Investment Registration Certificate (IRC)
  2. Business Registration Certificate (BRC)
  3. Food Safety Certificate
  4. Environmental Protection Certificate
  5. Other Certificates

1. Investment Registration Certificate (IRC)

To start the process of opening a restaurant in Vietnam, it is necessary to get an IRC document first. To get your IRC, Emerhub writes a request for permission to open a restaurant in Vietnam. We submit the following required documents to the Department of Planning and Investment:

  • If you are an individual investor, provide copies of identification documents. 
  • If you are an organizational investor, provide copies of a Certificate of Establishment. You can also provide any other equivalent document confirming your legal status.
  • A project proposal defining the objectives, scope of your restaurant, financing, and other details.
  • Provide financial statements for the past two years as well as a guarantee of the investor’s financial capacity.
  • A request for investment incentives should also be included, as well as an assessment of the project’s potential socio-economic effects.

Process timeline: It takes up to 15 days to get an IRC for opening a restaurant in Vietnam.

2. Business Registration Certificate (BRC)

Once you have your IRC, Emerhub applies for a Business Registration Certificate. We submit a written request for business registration along with the following documents:

  • Certificate of Investment Registration.
  • A list of members, if your restaurant is under a multi-member limited liability company; or a list of partners for a partnership.
  • Individual member has to provide a notarized copy of their ID or valid passport. 
  • Organization member has to provide a notarized copy of their Establishment Certificate. 
  • A notarized copy of the valid ID of the legal representative of each organization is also required.
  • Power of attorney (granted by client)

Process timeline: It takes 3 – 6 working days to get BRC for opening a restaurant in Vietnam

3. Food Safety Certificate to open a restaurant in Vietnam

The next step is to apply for a Food Safety Certificate. This requires a written request for the certificate to the Department of Health along with the following documents:

  • A copy of the Business Registration Certificate.
  • A description of the facilities, devices, and equipment that meet the food safety requirements.
  • Health certificates for the owners and employees involved in food production.
  • Certificates of food safety training for the owners and employees involved in food production.

Process timeline: It takes 15 working days to get Food Safety Certificate to open a restaurant in Vietnam.

4. Environmental Protection Certificate

Finally, Emerhub applies for an Environmental Protection Certificate for your restaurant. This certificate ensures that your restaurant complies with environmental regulations. These regulations include proper waste management and pollution control. Restaurants with an area of ​​less than 200 m² are exempted from this certificate.

5. Other certificates to open a restaurant in Vietnam

In addition to a business license, there are other certificates and approvals that are required to open a restaurant in Vietnam, such as a fire safety certificate, and a license for alcohol sale. It is important to obtain these certificates and approvals before opening a restaurant in Vietnam in order to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

a. Fire prevention and fighting Certificate

To open a restaurant in Vietnam, you need to get a fire prevention and fighting certificate. It is to ensure that your restaurant meets the necessary safety standards and can handle fire.

b. License for Alcohol sale on-site consumption

To sell alcohol at a restaurant, you have to get an alcohol license. You also need to follow the government’s Clause 7, which regulates the sale of alcohol and beer. This law states that it is not permitted to sell alcohol for on-site consumption within 100 meters of medical facilities, and general education institutions. To sell alcohol at a restaurant, you must register with the Economic Office of Infrastructure at the district level.

Invest in an established restaurant in Vietnam

Choosing this type of business can save time and money for investors because it already has an IRC. Investing in an established restaurant in Vietnam also does not limit the capital contribution of foreign investors, allowing them to own up to 100% of the company’s capital. The process for foreign investors to invest in an established restaurant is as follows:

  1. Emerhub registers your capital contributions at the Department of Planning and Investment.
  2. If the capital contribution meets the regulations, you get approval within 15 days. If the application does not meet requirements, the department provides a written explanation.
  3. To transfer the shares and capital contributions and change the shareholders or members of the company, foreign investors have to go through the Department of Planning and Investment. This process typically takes 1-2 weeks.

Open a restaurant in Vietnam with Emerhub

Opening a restaurant in Vietnam can be a complex and time-consuming process. It is due to many legal and regulatory requirements. As a foreign investor, you have the option of setting up a new, fully foreign-owned restaurant or investing in an existing one. In either case, you will need to get the necessary approvals and licenses to open a restaurant in Vietnam.

Emerhub helps you through every step of the process of opening a restaurant in Vietnam. We assist with setting up businesses and get you the required licenses. Our team of professionals has the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process and help you succeed in Vietnam’s market.

Ready to open your own restaurant in Vietnam? Fill out the form below and book a call with an Emerhub consultant.

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