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Vietnam has wild animal wet markets. The Law on Veterinary Medicine sets hygiene standards applicable to such markets. Trading in endangered and rare animals is restricted, and trading in common wild animals is regulated. In order to reduce the risk of new pandemics, the Prime Minister issued a directive on July 23, 2020, banning the wildlife trade and eliminating wildlife markets.

I. Animal Market Regulation

Vietnam has wild animal wet markets.[1] “Wildlife is commonly traded and used in Vietnam for meat, pets, skins, traditional medicine, or display in private zoos and collections.”[2] It appears that the markets themselves are legal. The Law on Veterinary Medicine sets hygiene standards applicable to animal markets and small animal markets as follows:

1. Regarding animal markets:
a) Location shall conform with the planning of local government:
b) Animals shall be kept in separate areas;
c) Equipment, tools and water shall satisfy the veterinary hygiene standards;
d) Measures for collecting and treating waste water and waste matters safety that are conformable to the law provisions on environmental protection shall be taken to ensure [preventing] epidemic;
dd) Cleansing, decontamination and disinfection shall be carried out according to the regulations.
2. Regarding small animal markets:
a) Located separately from other branches;
b) Convenient for cleansing, decontamination, disinfection and collection and treatment of waste water, waste matters.[3]

The Law on Veterinary Medicine also sets standards for establishment trading in animal products. “Animal products” means any product derived from animals.[4] At establishments trading animal products,

a) Things used for display, sale and containing of animal products shall be made of stainless materials so as not to badly affect the quality of products and shall be easy for cleansing, decontamination and disinfection;
b) Appropriate preservation measures shall be taken to prevent animal products from losing food safety and degeneration;
c) Location and things used for trading of animal products shall be carefully cleansed before, while and after the sale of animal products and shall be periodically decontaminated and disinfected;
d) Warehouses, equipment for preservation of animal products shall comply with the regulations according to corresponding technical standards; [and]
dd) Measures for collecting and handling waste water and waste matters safety that are conformable to the law provisions on environmental protection shall be taken during the trading of animal products to ensure epidemic.[5]

Establishments trading animal products for use as food must also comply with legislation on food safety.[6]

II. Endangered and Rare Animal Trade Regulation

It is generally illegal to buy, sell, or trade an endangered animal in Vietnam. Such animals, however, are sometimes placed on the market illegally.

Under the 2017 Law on Forestry, “endangered and rare forest plant and animal species” are those forest plant and animal species that have special economic, scientific, medical, ecological, landscaping, and environmental value, and that number only a few in nature or are under threat of extinction.[7] Under the Biodiversity Law, “endangered precious and rare species prioritized for protection” are similarly defined.[8] The government must make a list of endangered and rare species of forest animals[9] and must develop policies on their management and protection and procedures for using them as provided in the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).[10]

Hunting, fishing, exploring body parts of, killing, consuming, transporting, purchasing, or selling species on the list of endangered and rare species, and advertising, marketing, or consuming products originated from such species are restricted.[11] Breeding forest animals that are endangered or rare, or are listed in the CITES Appendices, may be allowed if a person follows the requirements, procedures, and scope of licensing set by the government.[12]

Specimens of endangered and rare wild forest plant and animal species provided in the CITES Appendices must be marked to identify legal origins in accordance with characteristics and categories of each specimen and ensure the marks are falsification-proof. “Specimens of animal species” means living or dead animals, eggs, larvae, or their parts or derivatives.[13] When a person trades in such specimens, the person must ensure they are from legal origins and appropriately managed for processing and consumption.[14]

Those who violate laws protecting endangered species are punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years and fines under the Penal Code.[15]

III. Trade of Non-Endangered Wild Animals

The Law on Forestry states that when a person trades forest products, including wild animals,[16] the person must follow regulations on  documentation on forest products and inspection of their origins.[17] The inspection of the origin of forest products includes the inspection of forest products in the course of harvesting, transporting, processing, trading, and storing such products.[18] Forest rangers take charge of the inspection, in cooperation with the police, army, market surveillance authorities, customs, and other authorities.[19]

Those who violate laws protecting common wild animals that are valued at 500 million dong (about US$ 21,600) or more are punishable by imprisonment for more than six months, a community sentence, or fines under the Penal Code.[20]

IV. New Directive to Heighten Enforcement of Existing Laws on Illegal Wildlife Trade

In early March 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to draft a directive to eliminate the illegal wildlife trade and the consumption of wildlife, and to submit the draft to the government no later than April 1.[21] Though it was delayed, on July 23, 2020, Prime Minister Phuc issued a directive calling for enhanced enforcement efforts on illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam with immediate effect in order to reduce the risk of new pandemics.[22]

The directive includes twelve provisions. The first provision temporarily bans the import of live wild animals and wildlife products until further notice. It also states that the government is eliminating illegal wildlife markets and enforcing prohibitions on the illegal hunting and trading of wild animals,[23] including through online sales.[24] Further, the directive instructs the People’s Committees of the provinces to strengthen inspections of wildlife rearing and trading establishments in compliance with the legal origin regulation, and of veterinary hygiene and environment and food safety.[25]

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Prepared by Sayuri Umeda
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
August 2020

*At present there are no Law Library of Congress research staff members versed in Vietnamese.  This report has been prepared by the author’s reliance on practiced legal research methods and on the basis of relevant legal resources, chiefly in English, currently available in the Law Library and online.

[1] Michael Tatarski, Vietnam Considers Wildlife Trade Ban in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic, Mongabay (Mar. 18, 2020),

[2] COVID-19: The Right Time for Revising Wildlife Trade and Consumption Policy, Vietnam Law & Legal Forum (May 25, 2020),

[3] Law on Veterinary Medicine, No. 79/2015/QH13 (June 19, 2015), art. 71, cls. 1 & 2, This Law does not indicate what constitutes a difference between animal markets and small animal markets.

[4] Id. art. 3, cl. 2

[5] Id. art. 72, cl. 1.

[6] Id. art. 72, cl. 2.

[7] Law on Forestry, No. 16/2017/QH14 (Nov. 15, 2017), art. 2, cl. 14,

[8] Law on Biodiversity, No. 20/2008/QH12 (Nov. 13, 2008), art. 3, cl. 20,

[9] Law on Forestry art. 38, cls. 1 & 2; Decree on Management of Endangered, Precious and Rare Species of Forest Fauna and Flora and Observation of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, No. 06/2019/ND-CP (Jan. 22, 2019), art. 4,

[10] Law on Forestry art. 38, cl. 2.

[11] Law on Biodiversity art. 7, para. 4.

[12] Law on Forestry art. 49.

[13] Id. art. 2, cl. 15.

[14] Id. art. 72, cl. 2.

[15] Penal Code No. 100/2015/QH13 (Nov. 27, 2015), arts. 234 & 244,

[16] Law on Forestry art. 2, cl. 16.

[17] Id. art. 72, cl. 1, dd. 

[18] Id. art. 42, cl. 1.

[19] Id. art. 42, cl. 3.

[20] Penal Code No. 100/2015/QH13 (Nov. 27, 2015), art. 234,

[21] Sen, Vietnam to Ban Wildlife Trade Following Conservationists’ Demand, VN Express (Mar. 9, 2020),

[22] Chỉ Thị Về Một Số Giải Pháp Cấp Bách Quản Lý Động Vật Hoang Dã [Directive on Urgent Solutions for Wildlife Management], No. 29/CT-TTG 2020(July 23, 2020),

[23] Id. item 1 & 11.

[24]Id. item 9.

[25] Id. item 12.

Last Updated: 12/31/2020