Despite strict current regulations, the Vietnamese government is making strides in promoting the use and integration of UAS.  UAS have been listed as one of the prioritized technologies for research, development and application under the recent Decision of the Prime Minister No. 2117/QD-TTg dated 16 December 2020.

In particular, the Government and enterprises of Vietnam have especially promoted the use of UAS in agriculture and monitoring of energy utilities.  In the agriculture sector, users have applied for UAS to aid in spraying of pesticides and identification of pest-infected areas.  According to a recent official letter from the Ministry of National Defense (“MND”), the MND confirmed the policy that would facilitate the import and preferential tariff and fee treatment of UAS specialized for agriculture purposes, as well as encourage and facilitate research and manufacturing.  In the energy sector, since 2019, the National Power Transmission Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that is currently the sole company managing electricity transmission in Vietnam, has applied and instructed its subsidiaries to apply UAS in the management of the electric power grid, in order to reduce labor costs and minimize labor accidents.

Legal Framework

Since 2008, the legal framework for operation of UAS in Vietnam has been provided under Decree No.36/2008/ND-CP (amended by decree No.79/2011/ND-CP in 2011) (“Decree 36”).  Decree 36 generally provides that all UAS import, export, manufacture and trading activities are subject to the approval of Vietnam’s MND and the Ministry of Public Security (“MPS”) on a case-by-case basis. All UAS flight activities must be licensed by the Combat Operations Department under the General Staff of Vietnam.

In early 2020, the Government of Vietnam issued more comprehensive requirements for the operation of UAS in Decision 18/2020/QD-TTg (“Decision 18”).  Decision 18 established prohibited and restricted flying zones for UAS, including prohibited flying zones (e.g. national defense structures, head offices of state agencies, airports, etc.) and restricted flying zones (airspace of more than an altitude 120 m above terrain, crowded areas, etc.).

In addition, the MND is in the progress of drafting a new Decree to replace Decree 36. Several notable points under the Draft Decree include:

  • A requirement to obtain a Qualified Certificate for designing, manufacturing, repairing, maintaining, and testing aircraft, aircraft engines, aircraft propellers and equipment for UAS;
  • A simplified approval for the import/export of UAS that would allow organizations to seek approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (“MOIT”), which may be appointed as a “one-stop-shop” to approve the application.
  • Specification of the procedures and applications for the operation of UAS, including registration for business applications; and
  • Detailed registration of UAS operations.

We will continue to monitor and update our blog with developments as these new rules come into place.