What documents are needed to open an account for foreign investors?
Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thuy (Ho Chi Minh City) works for a foreign company. The company plans to invest in Vietnam and wants to open a payment account in Vietnam to prepare for the investment.
The bank requires Ms. Thuy's company to provide the visa of the company's representative in order to open and use the account. This is because the company has not yet signed agreements with the bank's agents or intermediaries to verify the company and the foreign individual.
Ms. Thuy asked whether the company's representative needs to provide a visa or if they can use a passport with consular legalization, similar to what intermediaries use for verification.
The State Bank of Vietnam responds to this issue as follows:
Circular No. 06/2019/TT-NHNN dated June 26, 2019, provides guidance on foreign exchange management for foreign direct investment activities in Vietnam. It regulates the transfer of funds for activities preparing for investment as follows:
"Before being granted a Certificate of Investment Registration by the competent authority..., foreign investors are allowed to transfer money from abroad or from a foreign currency or Vietnamese dong payment account opened by the foreign investor at a bank permitted in Vietnam to pay for legitimate expenses during the preparation phase for investment activities in Vietnam" (Article 8).
Circular No. 23/2014/TT-NHNN dated August 19, 2014, provides guidance on the opening and use of payment accounts at payment service provider organizations (amended and supplemented). It specifies that for payment accounts of organizations, banks, or foreign bank branches, the customer must provide certain documents when opening a payment account. These documents must include at least the following:
"a) Application to open a payment account, according to the bank's or foreign bank branch's template and in compliance with the provisions in Article 13.2 of this Circular;
b) Documentation proving the establishment and lawful operation of the account-opening organization: Establishment decision, operating license, business registration certificate, or other documents as required by law;
c) Documentation proving the legal representative status of the authorized person, along with personal documents of these individuals;
d) Appointment decision for the chief accountant or the person in charge of accounting, or a contract to hire accounting services of the organization opening the payment account (if applicable), along with personal documents of the chief accountant or the person in charge of accounting" (Article 12.2).
Personal documents include: "Citizen identification card or national identity card or valid passport or birth certificate (for individuals who are Vietnamese citizens under 14 years old and do not have a passport); valid entry visa or documentation proving visa exemption (for foreign individuals), except for cases where foreign individuals open payment accounts as stipulated in Article 14.4 of this Circular" (Point b, Clause 1, Article 12).
Rights and obligations of payment service providers: "i) Establish internal procedures for opening, using payment accounts, and maintaining a minimum balance in the payment account. Provide guidance, publicly announce information for customers to know, and promptly handle inquiries and complaints during the process of opening and using payment accounts" (Point i, Clause 2, Article 6).
Based on the above excerpts, foreign investors (non-residents) are allowed to use foreign currency, Vietnamese dong payment accounts opened at permitted banks to pay for legitimate expenses in transactions related to preparing for investment activities in Vietnam.
The documentation for opening a payment account for an organization includes personal documents of the legal representative of the organization as stipulated in Point b, Clause 1, Article 12.
Banks are responsible for guiding and addressing customer inquiries during the process of opening payment accounts.
By: Translator: LeAnh-Bizic
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