I have a question about customs in Vietnam. I’m traveling there to teach a short course on computing at a local university, and am bringing with me some equipment for students to use in the course. According to the information I can find on various official websites (and the university's understanding), it appears that I have all the necessary paperwork.

However, I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with bringing in equipment under these circumstances, and whether or not I need to be prepared for any difficulties with this process.

In addition to my passport, I have the following in both Vietnamese and English: a letter of invitation from the university (listing all of the equipment and it’s educational purpose), and a document showing photos of all of the equipment, the number of each item I’m carrying, and a written description.

Many thanks!

  • 3
    How much equipment are we talking about, and what's the approximate value? Is it clear that it's not for personal use? Commented May 31, 2017 at 2:26
  • The other question is whether you will be taking the equipment back out of the country. You may think it's obvious, but customs may not.
    – mkennedy
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 23:50
  • The equipment's worth about $900, and it will remain in the country as a gift to the university. Both points are covered in the letter that I'm carrying along with the equipment.
    – Jsyzygy
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Hi you may have a problem.

We work with lots of travellers and VN has specific rule about being a dumping ground for used equipment. You can quite possibly be made to pay the duty on the equipment you intend to leave. It is better to say it is for training purposes and will be leaving the country with you. If you show your 'letter' you will prove that you do not intend to take it with you...so duty is payable. Despite your good intentions the next 100 people will sell the stuff on the street. They will consider you a smuggler... albeit one who is upfront with 'proof'.

You can just have the letter adjusted and only produce it under duress. If you are on a government sanctioned trip (eg local peoples committee approved) the letter of invite from the peoples committee works wonders at customs.

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