Vietnam: 24 frequently asked questions and answers on foreign investment in the field of medical examination, treatment, spa service.

medical examination and treatment, Spa service.

This article presents 24 questions and answers related to investment activities of Foreign Investors (“FIs”) in the field of medical examination, treatment, and Spa services in Vietnam.

1. What forms can FIs invest in the medical examination and treatment section in Vietnam?

FIs have the right to invest in medical examination and treatment sections in Vietnam in the following forms:

      1. Establishment of enterprise, medical examination and treatment establishments with 100% foreign investment capital;
      2. Joint venture with Vietnamese individuals or organizations to establish medical examination and treatment establishments;
      3. Capital contribution, purchase of shares or contributed capital from existing Vietnam-based enterprises;
      4. Performance of business cooperation contract (BCC).
2. What types of medical examination and treatment establishments can FIs invest in?

FIs can invest in the following types of medical examination and treatment establishments:

      1. Hospitals including general hospital and specialized hospital;
      2. Polyclinic; specialized clinic;
      3. Family medical examination and treatment establishments;
      4. Maternity homes;
      5. Medical service establishments such as prescription glasses service establishments, cosmetology service establishments.
3. What is the minimum investment capital required for FIs in the field of medical examination and treatment in Vietnam?

For the establishment of some types of medical examination and treatment establishments, FIs must meet conditions on minimum investment capital. Specifically:

      1. Establishment of a hospital: USD20 million;
      2. Establishment of a policlinic: USD2 million;
      3. Establishment of specialized treatment facilities: USD200,0000.
4. What permits do medical examination and treatment establishments receive to be granted to operate in Vietnam?

To operate in Vietnam, medical examination and treatment establishments shall have the following permits:

      1.  Enterprise registration certificate or investment license for establishments of medical examination and treatment establishments;
      2. Operating license issued by the Minister of Health or the Director of the competent Provincial Department of Health.
5. What are the requirements for a medical examination and treatment establishment to be granted an operating license?

To be granted an operating license, a medical examination and treatment establishment shall fully meet the following requirements:

      1. Regarding material facilities: Having a fixed location, ensuring the requirements of radiation safety and firefighting and fire prevention, arranging a sterilization area for handling reusable medical instruments, except in cases in which there is no instrument to be re-sterilized or entering a contract with another medical establishment to sterilize used instruments;
      2. Regarding medical equipment: Having enough medical equipment appropriate to the scope of professional activities;
      3. Regarding human resources: There is one person responsible for technical expertise. Person in charge of expertise and heads of specialized faculties must satisfy the following conditions: (1) Being a doctor having a practicing certificate with an appropriate scope of professional activities; (2) Having practiced medical examination and treatment for at least 36 months after being granted a practicing certificate or having directly participated in medical examination and treatment for at least 54 months; (3) Being an organic practitioner at such establishment;

In addition, for each type of medical examination and treatment establishment or for each specific specialty, the law also stipulates its own capacity of personnel.

6. What are the requirements for granting an operating license to a specialized clinic?

To be granted an operating license, in addition to the requirements mentioned in Question 5 above, a specialized clinic shall meet the following requirements:

      1. Regarding material facilities:
        1. If any operation is conducted, including implanting operation, acupuncture, massage, or acupressure, the operation room shall be located in a separate area. The area of the operation room must be sufficient for performing specialized techniques;
        2. If the specialized clinic conducts both upper and lower gastro-endoscopic techniques, it shall have 02 separate rooms;
        3. Having a biochemistry laboratory department when diagnosing and treating occupational diseases.
      2. Regarding medical equipment: Having anti-shock first aid kits and a sufficient amount of specialized emergency drugs.
7. What are the requirements for granting an operating license to testing laboratories?

To be granted an operating license, in addition to the requirements mentioned in Question 5 above, the laboratory must also meet the following requirements:

      1. Regarding material facilities: The laboratory must have an area from 10m2 to 20m2 depending on the type of testing; the wall surface of the laboratory must use waterproof material close to the ceiling; the floor surface of the laboratory must use materials that are waterproof, have a flat surface, not standing water; the testing table must use waterproof, anti-corrosion materials, have a system of wash basins and have clean water faucets installed at the table; have a place to wait for taking samples, receiving samples, and cleaning instruments;
      2. Regarding medical equipment: Having sufficient testing equipment and medical instruments to perform the registered scope of professional activities, including at least sufficient equipment for conducting one of the six types of testing: microorganism, biochemistry, hematology, immunity, pathoanatomy and cytology, and medical genetics.
      3. Regarding personnel: The person in charge of professional and technical expertise of the laboratory must meet the following requirements:
        1. Being a doctor or technician specializing in testing, having a university degree or higher, and having a certificate of specialized practice in testing.
        2. Having worked as a relevant laboratory specialist for at least 54 months or having a laboratory practice period of at least 36 months, including the time for postgraduate study in laboratory specialty.
8. At which authority does the investor apply to obtain an operating license for a medical examination and treatment establishment?
      1. For a private hospital: The investor shall apply to obtain an operating license at the Ministry of Health of Vietnam.
      2. For other medical examination and treatment establishments: The investor shall submit an application to obtain an operating license at the competent Department of Health of Vietnam.
9. How are medical examination and treatment establishments handled if they violate operating requirements and use operating licenses in contravention of the law?

Subject to each act, the individual shall be fined at least VND1,000,000 and a maximum amount of VND50,000,000. Organizations shall be fined double an individual’s fine.

Specific fines for some acts applied to the individual are as follows:

      1. A fine ranging from VND20,000,000 to VND30,000,000 shall be imposed due to using a practitioner without a practice certificate for medical examination and treatment.
      2. A fine ranging from VND30,000,000 to VND40,000,000 shall be imposed due to hiring or borrowing an operating license for medical examination and treatment; or leasing or lending an operating license for medical examination and treatment.
      3. A fine ranging from VND40,000,000 to VND50,000,000 shall be imposed due to providing medical examination and treatment services without having an operating license for medical examination and treatment.

 In addition, the violating subjects may be subject to the following additional sanctions:

      1. Depriving the subject of the right to use the operating license;
      2. Suspension of operation;
      3. Depriving the subject of the right to use the practice certificate for medical examination and treatment.
10. What is the procedure for FIs to contribute capital, buy shares, and buy contributed capital from medical examination and treatment establishments in Vietnam?
      1. Step 1: Registering the capital contribution, the purchase of shares, the purchase of contributed capital.

        FIs must register their capital contribution or share purchase at the Department of Planning and Investment in the following cases:

        1. The contribution of capital, purchase of shares, and purchase of contributed capital leading to an increase in the FIs’s ownership percentage in economic organizations owning the contributed capital or shares;
        2. The contribution of capital, purchase of shares, and purchase of contributed capital leading to the fact that FIs and economic organizations stated in the Law on Investment hold more than 50% of the charter capital of economic organizations in the following cases: an increase in FIs’s ownership percentage of charter capital from less than or equal to 50% to more than 50%; an increase in the FIs’s ownership percentage of charter capital when FIs already own more than 50% of charter capital in an economic organization;
        3. FIs want to contribute capital, purchase shares, or purchase contributed capital from enterprises having a certificate of land use right for land in islands and border communes, wards, and townships; coastal communes, wards, and towns; other areas affecting national defense and security.
      2. Step 2: Carrying out procedures for changing shareholders, members at the Department of Planning and Investment.
11. What licenses must a foreign individual obtain to practice at a medical examination and treatment establishment in Vietnam?

Medical examination and treatment practitioners in Vietnam, including foreigners, must have a practice certificate issued by a competent Vietnamese authority if they practice in the following professional titles:

      1. Doctors, physician assistants;
      2. Nurses;
      3. Midwives;
      4. Medical technician;
      5. Herbalists;
      6. People who practice folk remedies or therapies.

If the foreigner has a practice certificate for medical examination and treatment issued in a foreign country, such certificate may be recognized in Vietnam under the provisions of the international treaty in which Vietnam is a member.

12. What are the requirements for the foreigner to be issued a practice certificate for medical examination and treatment in Vietnam?

 A foreigner shall be granted a practice certificate in Vietnam if he/she fully meets the following requirements:

      1. Having a relevant appropriate professional degree issued or recognized in Vietnam;
      2. Having practiced at a medical examination and treatment establishment and having been granted a written confirmation for the practice period;
      3. Having a good health certificate;
      4. Meeting requirements on using language in medical examination and treatment (mentioned in Question 13 below);
      5. Having a criminal record certified by the competent authority of the home country;
      6. Having a work permit issued by the competent authority in Vietnam;
      7. Not falling in the period of being banned from practicing medicine or from doing work related to medical or pharmaceutical profession according to the Court’s judgments or decisions; being prosecuted for criminal liability; being in the time of serving the Court’s criminal judgement, criminal decision or a decision on application of administrative handling measures by being forced into educational establishments, treatment establishments; being in the period of being disciplined in the form of warning or higher related to medical examination and treatment; having a loss or limitation of civil act capacity.
13. What are the language requirements for foreigners to practice medical examination and treatment in Vietnam?

Foreigners who directly carry out medical examination and treatment for Vietnamese people must be fluent in Vietnamese; if they are not fluent in Vietnamese, they must register a language to be used and have an interpreter. Foreigners can register their native language or another language as the language to be used.

The appointment of treatment and prescription of drugs must be written in Vietnamese; if the practitioner is not fluent in Vietnamese, the appointment of treatment and prescription of drugs must be written in the language that the practitioner has registered to use and the interpreter must translate this into Vietnamese.

The Minister of Health shall designate a medical training institution in Vietnam to examine and recognize the proficiency of Vietnamese for foreigners and the interpreter’s sufficient qualification for interpreting medical examination and treatment.

14. What main documents shall foreigners prepare to obtain a practicing certificate in Vietnam?

To apply for a practice certificate in Vietnam, a foreigner must prepare the following main documents:

      1. An application to obtain a practice certificate;
      2. Professional degree appropriate to the field of practice;
      3. A written confirmation for the period of practice;
      4. A written confirmation of fluency in Vietnamese; or written confirmation of sufficient qualification for interpreting the interpreter and a labor contract signed between the interpreter and the medical examination and treatment establishment;
      5. A work permit issued by a Vietnamese competent authority;
      6. A health certificate to practice medical examination and treatment, issued by a qualified medical examination and treatment establishment as prescribed by the Minister of Health; and
      7. Other documents in specific cases.
15. How are the acts of carrying out medical examination and treatment without being granted a practice certificate, or hiring or borrowing another person’s practice certificate, handled?

An individual shall be fined from VND20,000,000 to VND30,000,000 if employing a practitioner who does not have a practice certificate or has had the current practice certificate revoked, or is currently suspended from practicing medical examination and treatment.

For hiring or borrowing an operating license for medical examination and treatment; leasing, lending an operating license for medical examination and treatment: an individual shall be fined from VND30,000,000 to VND40,000,000.

An organization shall be fined double an individual’s fine.

16. How are foreigners sanctioned if violating the requirements on language for medical examination and treatment in Vietnam?

 Foreigners who commit the following acts shall be fined from VND5,000,000 to VND10,000,000:

      1. Directly providing medical examination and treatment in Vietnamese but having not been examined and recognized to be proficient in Vietnamese by a specialized medical training institution designated by the Minister of Health or providing medical examination and treatment in another language other than Vietnamese not registered for use yet;
      2. Appointing treatment or preparing prescriptions in another language other than Vietnamese which has not been registered for use yet or the interpreter has not been recognized to have sufficient qualification to interpret into Vietnamese.
17. When are foreigners expelled from Vietnam if violating regulations on medical examination and treatment?

Foreigners will be expelled from Vietnam if they repeat the following acts even if they have been administratively sanctioned:

      1. Providing medical examination and treatment without a practice certificate;
      2. Providing medical examination and treatment during the period that the practice certificate is revoked or foreigner is suspended from practicing medical examination and treatment;
      3. Providing medical examination and treatment beyond the scope of professional activities stated in the practice certificate for medical examination and treatment, except for emergency cases and cases where additional professional techniques are performed as permitted under the provisions of laws;
      4. Hiring or borrowing the practice certificate for medical examination and treatment to practice;
      5. Leasing or lending the practice certificate for medical examination and treatment to others;
      6. Failing to provide first aid, emergency and treatment to a patient in a timely manner;
      7. Refusing to provide medical examination and treatment to patients, except in cases where they are entitled to refuse medical examination and treatment as prescribed by law.
18. What is the sanction level for changing the practitioner without reporting to the licensing authority?

When changing practitioners without reporting to the licensing authority, an individual shall be fined from VND3,000,000 to VND5,000,000 and an organization shall be fined from VND6,000,000 to VND10,000,000.

19. What business line can the investor register to do business in Spa services?

According to regulations on Vietnam standard industrial classification, to do business in Spa services, the investor should consider and register the following industry code:

      1. VSIC code 9610: Sauna, massage, and similar health promotion services. Details of this class include Services of sauna, massage, sunbathing, and non-surgical cosmetics (belly fat, body slimming…).
      2. VSIC code 9631: Haircutting, hairdressing, shampooing. This class includes: (1) Haircutting, shampooing, perm, drying, hair dyeing, straightening, straightening, and other hairdressing services for both men and women; (2) Cutting, trimming, and shaving; (3) Facial massage, pedicure, manicure, makeup…
20. Under what forms can Spa establishments be established?

Subject to the demand of the owner’s Spa establishment, a Spa establishment can be established in the form of a business household or enterprise. Under the form of an enterprise, the owner’s Spa establishment can choose one of the following forms of enterprise as prescribed by the Law on Enterprise 2020:

      1. Private enterprise;
      2. Single-member limited liability company;
      3. Multi-member limited liability companies;
      4. Partnerships;
      5. Joint stock company.
21. What permits does a Spa establishment need to obtain?

As the Spa business is not subject to business lines that do not require business registration, Spa establishments need to obtain an Enterprise registration certificate if operating in the form of an enterprise or a Household business registration certificate if operating in the form of a household business.

In addition, Spa establishments need to obtain a Certificate of satisfaction of security and order conditions before operating if it provides massage activity.

22. What are the distinctions between a beauty-care service facility, a cosmetic service facility, and a specialized cosmetology clinic?
      1. Beauty care facilities: These are facilities providing services of skin care (Spa), hair cutting, shampooing, and manicures,… These facilities do not use anesthetics of any kind at all no medical conditions are required.
      2. Cosmetology service facilities: These facilities are not required to have an operating license, and only need a business license issued by the district-level People’s Committee (registered in the form of household business) or granted by the Department of Planning and Investment (registered in the form of enterprise). However, in order for a cosmetic service facility to carry out spraying, tattooing, or microblading on the skin, the person performing the spraying, tattooing, or microblading technique must have a certificate of training, vocational training in spraying or tattooing or microblading on the skin issued by a lawful training or vocational institution; and the facilities providing spraying, tattooing, or microblading on the skin must send a written notice to inform of the satisfaction of the conditions for providing cosmetic services to the Department of Health to be published on the website of the Department of Health at least 10 days before operating.
      3. Specialized cosmetology clinics: These are medical examination and treatment establishments that provide cosmetic services which use drugs, substances, and equipment to interfere with the human body.

To operate, in addition to the business license granted by the district-level People’s Committee or issued by the Department of Planning and Investment, the specialized cosmetology clinics must obtain an operating license issued by the Department of Health, and the list of techniques used must be approved by the Department of Health according to provisions of the law.

23. What is the sanction level for carrying out a Spa business without conducting business registration?

If a Spa establishment operates in the form of a business household without having a Business household registration certificate, it shall be fined a range of VND5,000,000 to VND10,000,000 for individuals or a range of VND10,000,000 to VND10,000,000 – VND20,000,000 for organizations.

If a Spa establishment operates in the form of enterprise without having an Enterprise registration certificate, it shall be fined a range of VND50,000,000 to VND100,000,000.

24. What is the procedure for business registration to do business in Spa services?

Subject to the scope of a Spa business, the procedure for business registration for a Spa business is conducted as follow:

      1. Circumstance 1: The Spa business includes massage service: Step 1: Obtaining a Household business registration certificate at the district-level People’s Committee or an Enterprise registration certificate at the Department of Planning and Investment. Step 2: Obtaining the Certificate of satisfaction of security and order conditions at a competent Department of Police Security.
      2. Circumstance 2: The Spa business excludes massage service: The applicant for a Spa business for this case only needs to conduct Step 1 mentioned above.

The above is not official advice from BLawyers Vietnam. If you have any questions or suggestions about the above, please contact us at consult@blawyersvn.com. We would love to hear from you!

Date: 17 July 2023

Writers: Trinh Nguyen, Tuyen Pham and Minh Truong

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