How to open a cafe or restaurant in Vietnam

open a restaurant in Vietnam

Are you thinking about opening a cafe or about opening a restaurant in Vietnam? Have a look at this guide, which explains to you the requirements, procedures, time frames and fees for how to open a restaurant in Vietnam.


Have you ever thought about setting up and opening a cafe in Vietnam, or opening a restaurant in Vietnam? It is an idea that many foreigners in Vietnam have had at some point. And no wonder: Vietnam’s culinary scene is well – known around the World. And the country has a wide variety of residents and tourists, each with their own taste.

Also, opening a bar, cafe in Vietnam or opening a restaurant in Vietnam could be a great way to secure your residence here. For those reasons and more, we are regularly asked what it takes for a foreigner to open a restaurant or to open a cafe in Vietnam. It is our pleasure to share with you what we know.

Foreign ownership or not?

It is good to know that Vietnam does not impose foreign ownership restrictions on restaurants and cafes. Meaning that it is possible for one or more foreigners to register a 100% foreign owned company in their name(s).

The procedures, however, are a bit more complicated, lengthy, and costly. The biggest difference being that foreign – owned companies must obtain an “investment registration certificate” or “IRC” first. This is an extra step, which Vietnamese company owners do not need to take.

For that reason, foreigners when opening a restaurant in Vietnam often choose to register the company in the name of their Vietnamese partner. Even though this is a common structure in Vietnam, it is not without risk. We will write a separate guide on this topic, as well.

open a restaurant in Vietnam

During the procedure for obtaining your IRC, you will be asked about the details of your project. You must explain what kind of cafe or restaurant you would like to open in Vietnam, where it is located, how much capital you are going to commit, and whether you would like to engage in any other activities.

Especially the capital requirements can be a bit burdensome for foreign entrepreneurs in Vietnam. We have written a separate article about this topic here, in order to give you some further insights.

The IRC procedure is done with the Department of Planning and Investment in the province or major city where you would like to open your company. It normally takes around 3 – 5 weeks, and foreigners often let a Vietnamese law firm, accountant, or other service provider handle this for them.

Selecting a location to open a restaurant in Vietnam

This is obviously an important first step: knowing where you would be opening a cafe or where you would be opening a restaurant in Vietnam. In principle, you are free to choose your own location. This could either be an existing location that you rent from a landlord. Or you could rent the land, and build your own place.

Buying a place is a lot more complicated since there are still quite a few restrictions when it comes to foreign ownership of the real estate in Vietnam. Apart from that, in some cities in Vietnam, for example, Da Nang and Hoi An, the local Government restricts certain areas for National security purposes.

This often means that foreign – owned companies have more difficulties registering their company there, than their Vietnamese counterparts have.

open a restaurant in Vietnam


If your company will be foreign – owned, then you need to apply for an investment registration certificate (IRC) first. After that, you apply for an enterprise registration certificate, or “ERC”, which takes around 1 – 2 weeks in practice. This is basically a certificate for registering the legal structure of your company.

In most cases, foreigners choose the limited liability company or “LLC” option. Because it is a relatively simple legal structure, which also protects their private financial resources from the company’s finances.

However, a joint stock company or “JSC” is also possible. Those are the two main licenses for opening a restaurant in Vietnam: IRC and ERC.

open a restaurant in Vietnam



After you have obtained the IRC and the ERC, there are a few more steps to complete. These include: (i) publishing your company on the national registration website, (ii) obtaining a company seal and registering it, (iii) registering with the tax authorities, purchasing value added tax (VAT) – invoices and paying the annual business license tax, and (iv) opening a bank account.

Your service provider can support you with all of these post – certification steps. They are not very expensive, and all together they may take you only around 1 or 2 weeks to complete.

Sub – licensing

After having obtained these two, it is time to apply for your “sub – licenses”. When opening a cafe in Vietnam or opening a restaurant in Vietnam, you will need to apply for a food safety and hygiene certificate.

This comes after you have obtained your IRC and ERC, and after you have completed your kitchen and sanitary facilities. There will be a written application and a physical inspection by the Local Authorities.

It normally takes around 3 – 4 weeks. Now depending on whether and how you would like to sell alcohol and/or cigarettes at your cafe or restaurant, you may also need to register that.

open a restaurant in Vietnam

Time to open your restaurant!

Now that you have completed these steps, you are good to go. The whole procedure from start to finish normally takes around 2,5 – 3 months for a foreign – owned restaurant or cafe in Vietnam, and around 1,5 months if it is Vietnamese – owned.

The exact time frame depends on factors such as: finding your location, which Authority is in charge, and how active is your local service provider. After opening your restaurant in Vietnam, there are several things that you should keep in mind when actually running your company. We will write a separate article about that in the future.

More information

We hope that you found this guide useful, and that it has given you some insights into what it takes to open a restaurant in Vietnam.

If you would like to learn more about this don’t hesitate to contact our team directly.

Or, you can chat with our Ai bot and receive a customized business start-up report within 24 hours.

And if you want to speak to an expert consultant, you can take a look at our specialists via this link.

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