Question (Nov 2005)

How do we apply for NGO status in Vietnam? What are the criteria, laws and regulations?


“NGO status” in Vietnam is roughly similar to “Public Charity” 501c(3) tax-exempt status in the U.S., while the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam is roughly similar to “Business League” 501c(6) tax-exempt status in the U.S.

The U.S. Case – “Public Charity” – 501c(3) Tax-Exempt Organization

Life Cycle of a Public Charity in the U.S.
During its existence, a public charity has numerous interactions with the IRS – from filing an application for recognition of tax-exempt status under the law, to filing the required annual information returns, to making changes in its mission and purpose.

Exemption Requirements in the U.S.
A brief description of the requirements for exemption under IRC Section 501c(3).

Appllication for Recognition of Exemption in the U.S.
Procedures for applying for exemption under Internal Revenue Section 501c(3).

Annual Reporting and Filing Requirements in the U.S.
A brief description of annual filing requirements for tax-exempt organizations.

The Vietnam Case – “Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations”

We understand from reports that there are 514 NGOs in Vietnam, and that they will donate $100 million in community building activities in 2003.

The Regulations on the Operation of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations in Viet Nam (herein referred to as the Regulations) promulgated in accordance with Decision No.340/QD-TTg dated 24 May 1996 of the Prime Minister, provide the legal environment for foreign NGOs to work in Viet Nam.

The Committee for Foreign Non-Governmental Organization Affairs (herein referred to as the Committee) was established to address issues relating to foreign NGOs. The President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) has been assigned as Executive Member of the Committee. VUFO bears the principal responsibility for aid mobilization and for relations with foreign NGOs.

The People’s Aid Coordinating Committee (PACCOM), the specialized and functional body of VUFO, was established on 10 June 1989. The organizational structure of PACCOM includes Director, Deputy Directors and Programme Coordinators, working in four desks (Administration, Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific).

Its functional activities include: “Processing the issuance, extension, amendment of Permits of different types for foreign NGOs working in Viet Nam, according to the Regulations.”

The People’s Aid Co-ordinating Committee (PACCOM)

105A Quan Thanh, Ha Noi, Viet Nam
Tel.: (84 4) 8436 936/7
Fax: (84 4) 8452 007
[email protected]

Southern Representative Office
9 Le Duan Boulevard, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 84 28 8250 372
Fax: 84 28 8333 436

For additional information, click on the below links:

VUFO-NGO Resource Centre

Guidelines for the Implementation of the Regulations on the Operation of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations in Vietnam, 07 Aug 1996 (pdf file), superseded by

DECREE 93/2009/NĐ-CP,  PROMULGATING THE REGULATION ON MANAGEMENT AND USE OF FOREIGN NON­GOVERNMENTAL AID,, Oct 22, 2009 (in Vietnamese, click the tab labeled “tiếng Anh” for an English translation).

Asian Development Bank – Civil Society Briefs:  Vietnam, Sep 2011.

Partnerships for  Sustainable Development, the 2018 annual report from working groups hosted bythe NGO Resource Centre, is now available. Click to download the report in English and inVietnamese.

Next steps

You may, of course, do-it-yourself and submit an application to the PACCOM. You may also wish to consider asking one of AmCham’s member legal services firms to help you with the paperwork of the application and regular reports. Click here for a list and contact points of Legal Services firms.

Additional Background

According to a conference in mid-2005 on NGO activities in Vietnam,

  • NGOs have donated more than US$ 700 million to more than 16,000 projects in Viet Nam, according to preliminary statistics.
  • Their aid has been increasing in the last few years, to $80 million annually, and is set to reach $100 million in 2005.
  • Viet Nam has ties with 514 NGOs in 2003 compared to 183 in 1992..
  • Key organizations include (see links above):
    • VN Union of Friendship Organisations
    • VN Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs chairman
    • VN Union of Friendship Organisations – NGO Resource Centre


Posted: Nov 29, 2005, updated Mar 9, 2019.