Gateway to international timbertrade

Viet Nam

Forest resources

According to the FAO ( 2015) Viet Nam has around 14.8 million hectares of forested land, which constitutes to 47.6% of the total land area. Around 11.1 million hectares are primary or otherwise naturally regenerated forest, and around 3.7 million hectares are planted forest.

Viet Nam’s forests are rich with resources and diverse ecology, holding a rich biodiversity, including many endemic species. The forest ecosystems of Viet Nam can be divided in the following groups: (1) Tropical evergreen rainforests with a dense vegetation and rich biodiversity; (2) evergreen forests on limestone mountains, holding the characteristic indigenous flora of northern Viet Nam and southern China; (3) deciduous forests suffering a long dry season, and dominated by Dipterocarp tree species; (4) mangrove forests along te coasts; (5) tropical semi-deciduous moist forests in mountaineous areas with high rainfall, but with a dry season of 1 to 3 months; (6) natural coniferous forests in mountaineous areas; (7) Melaleuca forests in areas with frequent waterlogged conditions, mainly in the Mekong River delta; and (4) bamboo forests (VNForest, 2013).

The current Vietnamese forest area is for 67.9% publicly owned, 25.1% is privately owned and the remainder is under another type of ownership (FAO, 2015).

Forests in Viet Nam are categorized into three main categories:

(i) special use forest (15%), mainly protected areas such as national parks and nature conservation areas;
(ii) protection forest (35%), mainly for protection of water sources, soils and environment;
(iii) production forest (50%), including both natural forests and forest plantations (VNForest, 2013).

Production and export

According to ITTO (2017) the Vietnamese forest industry produced in 2015 about 12.7 million m3 of logs, which is mainly used by the domestic industry. Viet Nam is a net importer of timber and Viet Nam’s wood processing sector is highly dependent on imported materials from a large number of sources. Wood sourced from the Vietnamese forests originates often from plantations, also because of the logging and export bans which are in place. Species most commonly used in forestry plantations are Acacia (Acacia spp) and Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp).

Viet Nam's wood processing industry is particularly known for production and exports of high-end wood products, particularly furniture. Viet Nam is one of the world's largest exporting countries of wooden furniture and parts, with exports valued at $4.38 billion in 2013, whereas the exports of primary timber products are valued at 726 million US dollars in 2015 (ITTO, 2017). Viet Nam has about 3,000 wood processing enterprises, 95% of which are privately-owned. Most of the enterprises are small and medium in size (Forest Trends, 2011). The relatively low cost labour force and a favourable environment for foreign investment are the main  competitive advantages of the Vietnamese industry.

Besides furniture the main export products of the Vietnamese wood product industries are wood chips and paper, with Viet Nam being one of the biggest wood chip exporting countries of the world. The main destination markets for the exports of wood products are displayed in the graph below. It should be noted that this graph does not include the exports of furniture and pulp and paper products.

Timber products are exported from Viet Nam through a number of ways, they are:

  1. Directly from timber processors to overseas retailers or importers.
  2. From processors to traders in Viet Nam with links to external markets.
  3. From processors to overseas companies operating in Viet Nam who then sell the product overseas. (TFT, 2014)

Viet Nam has quite a number of ports, but the biggest ports are (1) Hai Phong being the Viet Nam's most important seaport in the North, (2) Da Nang, the third largest sea port located in the middle of Viet Nam, and (3) Ho Chi Minh City in the South.

Legality framework

It is important to realise that this legality framework focusses only on timber harvested in Viet Nam. For timber imported to and processed in Viet Nam additional regulations apply, which are not covered here.

Forest governance

At the national level the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is responsible for management of forest resources through the Viet Nam Forest Administration (VNFOREST), which is divided into four key departments: Forest Protection (focusing on law enforcement), Forest Utilization (forest production), Forest Development, and Nature Conservation (forest conservation).

Legal rights to harvest

Parties harvesting timber in Viet Nam must hold valid land use title. The most important user groups entitled to harvest timber in Viet Nam are ‘State companies’ and ‘Households’, while a significant part of the national forest area has not yet been allocated to any forest user group, but are managed directly by communal People’s Committees (PC) – the lowest level of state administration in the country.

Taxes and fees
Timber harvesting activities

Forest title holders harvesting forests need to be in the possession of an approved harvesting plan in order to be entitled to harvest timber. The relevant authority responsible for the approval of the harvesting plans depends on the position and ownership of the title holder. Pursuant to the allocated harvesting quota, a harvest design (including the hammering marks of the trees to be harvested) is developed and submitted for approval and issuance of an harvesting permit by the Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development. The maximum duration of harvesting permits is 12 months since its issuing date.

After issuance of the harvesting permit the title holder is allowed to harvest the trees. All logs transported from harvesting areas are checked and marked with an official hammer mark of the Forest Protection Department (FPD). For smaller trees not subject to hammering this stamp is replaced by a hammering certificate. After harvesting the forest owner and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development conduct an evaluation to measure actual harvest versus harvest design. Subsequently, the company must be in possession of an approved post harvest inspection report for all harvested areas.

Third parties' rights
Trade and transport

For transportation of domestic timber, and before logs leave the forest, a document package need to be completed, which includes:

  • packing list is issued according to the prescriped MARD format (Circular 01, 2012);
  • a sales invoice according to the regulations of the Ministry of Finance;
  • Ex-warehousing-cum-internal transportation bills for internal transportation
  • Official FPD record of timber hammering compatible with the timber consignment. If logs are not subject to FPD stamping, they should have a certificate from the district FPD. Alternatively, a Commune PC certificate should be available for timber from plantations or from scattered trees.

Timber processing and trading facilities must maintain wood log books to record all wood entering and exiting the facility. Data must be recorded within one day of the transaction. The format of the log books is provided and guided by the district Forest Protection Department (Circular 01, 2012).

Valid export documents must include: the bill of ladingpacking lists for the sawn timber or wood products; and chain-of-custody records indicating the origin of logs used to produce wood products.

Key documents

The below listed key documents are based on the applicable legislation and are considered to play a key role in demonstrating legal origin. The full list of applicable legislation is accessible here (NEPCon).


Business registration certificate
Provincial Business Registration Division
Legal registration of the business
Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural development
The format is completed by the authority and has a maximum duration of 12 months since its issuing date.
The format applies to all organizations and has to be completed by the selling party. It needs to be endorsed by residential forest rangers.
Hammering record
Forest Protection Department
Minutes of hammering for bigger trees, which are subject to hammering. For trees which are not subject to hammering (small trees) a hammering certificate is required.
Sales contract
This will be completed by the selling party
VAT invoice
This will be completed by the selling party and needs to follow the regulations of the Ministry of Finance, including the company’s Tax code.

Processing and Trade

Business registration certificate
Provincial Business Registration Division
Legal registration of the business
Packing list
The format applies to all organizations and has to be completed by the selling party. It needs to be endorsed by residential forest rangers.
Bill of lading
This will be completed by the selling party
Sales contract
This will be completed by the selling party
VAT invoice
This will be completed by the selling party and needs to follow the regulations of the Ministry of Finance, including the company's Tax code.

Bans and quota

A logging ban is currently in place for natural forest, protected forest and special purpose forest. This ban is not applicable for two areas covered by FSC Forest Management certificates, and for non-commercial harvesting activities by households, individuals and rural communities.

An export ban is also in place covering logs and sawn wood from domestic natural forests (not plantations).

Cites and protected species

There are some tree species listed on CITES Appendix II from Viet Nam.

  • Thailand rosewood, Trắc (Dalbergia cochinchinensis). The CITES listing applies to logs, sawn wood and veneer sheets. See also the below-listed restriction of the government with regard to this species.
  • Agarwood (Aquilaria spp.). The CITES listing applies to all parts and derivatives except: seeds and pollen; seedling or tissue cultures obtained in vitro, in solid or liquid media, transported in sterile containers; fruits; leaves; exhausted agarwood powder, including compressed powder in all shapes; and finished products packaged and ready for retail trade; this exemption does not apply to beads, prayer beads and carvings.
  • Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis). The CITES listing applies to all parts and derivatives except: seeds and pollen; and finished products packaged and ready for retail trade. See also the below-listed restriction of the government with regard to this species.
  • Himalayan yew, Thông đỏ nam (Taxus wallichiana). The CITES listing applies to all parts and derivatives except: seeds and pollen; and finished products packaged and ready for retail trade.
  • Serpentine wood (Rauvolfia serpentine). The CITES listing applies to all parts and derivatives except: seeds and pollen; and finished products packaged and ready for retail trade.

Tree species for which exploitation and use for commercial purposes has been prohibited by the Vietnamese government:

  • Himalayan cypress (Cupressus torulosa)
  • Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides)
  • Vietnamese golden cypress (Xanthocyparis vietnamensis)
  • Fansipan fir (Abies delavayi spp. fansipanensis)
  • Kwangtung pine (Pinus kwangtungensis)
  • Himalayan yew (Taxus wallichiana)
  • Chinese Swamp Cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis)
  • Diospyros salletii
  • Sưa (Dalbergia tonkinensis)

Tree species for which exploitation and use for commercial purposes has been restricted by the Vietnamese government:

  • Mann's Yew Plum (Cephalotaxus mannii)
  • Chinese Incense-cedar (Calocedrus macrolepis)
  • Calocedrus rupestris
  • Fujian Cypress (Fokienia hodginsii)
  • Du sam (Keteleeria evelyniana)
  • Dalat pine (Pinus dalatensis)
  • Krempf's Pine (Pinus krempfii)
  • Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis)
  • Cunninghamia (Cunninghamia konishii)
  • Gõ đỏ (Afzelia xylocarpa)
  • Lim xanh (Erythrophloeum fordii)
  • Sindora siamensis
  • Gụ lau (Sindora tonkinensis)
  • Trai (Garcinia fagraeoides)
  • Thailand rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis)
  • Burmese Rosewood (Dalbergia oliveri, D. bariensis, D. mammosa)
  • Burma Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus)
  • Vù hương (Cinnamomum balansae)
  • Cinnamomum glaucescens
  • Selasian wood (Cinnamomum parthenoxylon)
  • Nghiến (Excentrodendron tonkinensis / Burretiodendron tonkinensis)

Organizations and individuals who are involved in processing and trading these species for commercial purposes must guarantee the following regulations (Decree No. 32/2006/ND-CP):

  • Possess a trading license for processing and trading specimens of wild animals and plants and their products, authorized by local authorities.
  • Endangered, precious and rare species and their products must be of legal origin.
  • Possess a log to record the import and export of endangered, precious and rare species and their products in compliance with the regulations in Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and under the supervision of FPD’s in compliance with the existing law.

National action on timber legality

Viet Nam is negotiating a VPA with the EU, and negotiations started in November 2010. In July 2015 Viet Nam shared its draft of a core element of the VPA, the timber legality assurance system (TLAS), with the EU and invited comments. A description of the TLAS is to be included as an annex to the Viet Nam–EU VPA. This annex details technical information on the timber legality verification mechanisms and the timber supply chain controls that Viet Nam intends to implement once the VPA is initialled (EFI, 2015).

Third party certification

148,204 hectares of the Vietnamese forests are covered by a FSC FM certificate (FSC, 2016). The majority of the certified area covers plantation forests, although there are two certified natural forest areas covering together 47238.6 hectares. For these areas the harvesting ban is not applicable (Decision No. 2242/QD-TTg). The certificate holders are:

  • Dak To forestry in Kon Tum province and certified under certificate no. GFA-FM/COC-002356.
  • Truong Son Forestry, member of Long Dai Forestry Industry in Quang Binh province and certified under certificate no. GFA-FM/COC-002634.

Another certification initiative is the development of the national Vietnam Forest Certification Scheme (VFCS), which will be submitted to PEFC for endorsement.

Sources of information

  • Circular 32/2006/TT-BNN guiding the implementation of the Government's Decree no. 12/2006/ND-CP of January 23, 2006, detailing the implementation of the Commercial Law regarding international goods sale and purchase and goods sale, purchase, processing and transit agency activities with foreign countries
  • Circular 35/2011/TT-BNNPTNT on guiding the implementation of timber and non-timber forest product harvesting and salvaging
  • Circular No. 01/2012/TT-BNNPTNT stipulating dossiers of lawful forest products and inspection of the origin of forest products.
  • Circular No. 40/2015/TT-BNNPTNT dated 21 October 2015, amending and supplementing of Circular No. 01/2012/TT-BNNPTNT
  • CITES database
  • Decision No. 59/2005/QD-BNN promulgating the Regulation on inspection and control of forest products.
  • Decision No. 2242/QD-TTg dated December 11, 2014 approving the Scheme for strengthening the management of natural forest’s timber exploitation in 2014 - 2020
  • Decree No. 12/2006/ND-CP making detailed provisions for implementation of the Commercial Law with respect to international purchase and sales of goods; and agency for sale and purchase, processing and transit of goods involving foreign parties.
  • Decree No. 32/2006/ND-CP on Management of Endangered, Precious and Rare Forest Plants and Animals
  • EU FLEGT Facility - Vietnam
  • Forest Legality Alliance country profile – Vietnam.
  • FSC (2016) FSC report “Facts & Figures” – February 2016
  • NEPCon (2015) Forestry risk profile: Vietnam
  • Nguyen Ton Quyen and Tran Huu Nghi. 2011. How Viet Nam is prepared to meet legal requirements of timber export markets. Tropenbos International Viet Nam, Hue City, Viet Nam, X - 44 pp.
  • PEFC - Vietnamese Government Reinvigorates Efforts to Advance Forest Certification
  • TFT (2014) Country guide to timber legality: Vietnam
  • WWF GFTN (2013) Guide to Legal & Responsible Sourcing: Vietnam
  • WWF GFTN Country profiles - 2015: Vietnam


Viet Nam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST)
No 2, Ngoc Ha Street, Ba Dinh District
Tel: +84 (4) 38438792
VNFOREST is an agency under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) VNFOREST performs the function of advising and assisting MARD in State management and implementing State management tasks on forestry in the country, and managing and instructing public service activities under the VNFOREST management scope.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Forest Protection Department
A3 Building
No.2 Ngoc Ha, Ba Dinh
Tel: +84 (4) 38 48 99 74
The FPD is an agency under VNFOREST which performs the function of advising and assisting the VNFOREST Director General in implementing State management on forest protection, and ensuring legal enforcement on forest protection, development and forest product management under the management scope of VNFOREST. The FPD is a.o. responsible for the issuance of CITES licenses of domestic timber.
Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT)
54 Hai Ba Trung Str, Hoan Kiem District
Tel: (04) 22202222
MOIT is responsible for issuing a number of permits related to timber trading, as well as being responsible more generally for overseeing trade and industry in Vietnam.
Ministry of Industry and Trade
Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE)
20 Ly Thuong Kiet St., Ba Dinh Dist.
Tel: +84 (4) 39347628
The Viet Nam Trade Promotion Agency (VIETRADE) is a governmental organization responsible for state regulation of trade and investment promotion for development of industry and trade
Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)
No.9, Dao Duy Anh Street, Dong Da District
Tel: +84 (4) 35743985
Representing the interests of the business community in Viet Nam and trade promotion
Viet Nam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFORES)
No. 189 Thanh Nhan Hai Ba Trung
Tel: +84 (4) 37833016
VIFORES is the trade group representing manufacturers, processors, and traders of forest products in Viet Nam. This industry group works in all areas of forestry, including forestation, exploitation, processing, import-export and distribution of timber forest products. The organization represents Vietnamese business and communities, and strengthens industry development.
Handicraft and Wood Industry Association (HAWA)
HAWA, the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City, has about 350 members representing wood industries - primarily manufacturers of furniture and handicrafts - in the southern region of Vietnam.
D13, Thang Long International Village, Cau Giay District
Tel: (84 4) 3719 3049 ext 133
GFTN-Vietnam is the Vietnamese chapter of WWF's Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN). The GFTN is WWF's initiative to eliminate illegal logging and improve the management of valuable and threatened forests.
The Forest Trust (TFT) – Viet Nam
Room 702, Number 341 – 343
Dien Bien Phu Street
Binh Thanh District
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam
Tel: +84 (0)8 351 22538
TFT is a global NGO that helps businesses bring responsible products to market. TFT helps members worldwide build responsible supply chains by identifying and addressing embedded social and environmental
Greater Mekong Office
Room 203, Building 2G
Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound
298 Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh District
Tel: (84) 4 3726 5023
TRAFFIC is a leading NGO working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
Tầng 4
18 Trần Đăng Ninh (kéo dài) Str.
Cầu giấy Dist.
Hà Nội, Viet Nam
NEPCon is a non-profit organisation forest consulting and services firm with an office in Viet Nam. NEPCon specialized in certification and timber legality. It created a Global Forest Risk Registry based on the principles and criteria of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as well as risk profiles for selected timber producing countries.


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