Circular No.19-BYT/TT, guiding the management of the massage service, promulgated by the Ministry of Health


Independence – Freedom – Happiness

No: 19-BYT/TT

Hanoi, December 21, 1995




Pursuant to the Ordinance on Private Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice, and Decree No.06-CP of January 29, 1994 of the Government detailing a number of Articles of the Ordinance on Private Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice; Decree No.02-CP of January 5, 1995 of the Government concerning the commodities and services banned from commercial business and the conditioned business services on the domestic market; Decree No.87-CP of December 12, 1995 of the Government on strengthening the management of the cultural activities and services and promoting the fight against a number of serious social evils, the Ministry of Health provides the following detailed guidance on the criteria, conditions, scope of operation, procedures and competence in the issuance of certificates of qualification for the massage service:


1. Massage is a method in the system of physical therapeutic methods aimed at rehabilitating and strengthening health.

2. Massage is used for the following purposes:

– Therapeutic massage: using the fundamental acts of massage to treat a number of diseases or a specific disease.

– Sport and physical training massage: using a number of simple techniques to redress an injury or to warm up before training and competing or to restore health after training or competition.

– Sanitation massage or preventive massage: this usually consists in using a number of simple techniques to impact the whole body or part of the body aimed at restoring the function of the body and accelerate the process of self restoration of health.

3. The establishments providing a massage service must have a certificate of qualification issued by the Medical Service of the province or the city directly under the Central Government. They must abide by the prescriptions of law concerning the practice of private medicine and pharmacy and the other provisions of law, and must not misuse the operating establishment to engage in prostitution.



1. A person who applies for the massage business must have the following criteria:

a/ On the professional level:

– He/she must be a doctor specialized in functional rehabilitation.

– He/she must be a doctor of traditional medicine specialized in naturopathy, in massage and pressure on bodily points.

– He/she must be a technician of university level in physical therapy.

– He/she must be a certified general practitioner.

b/ He/she must have five consecutive years of service in charge of massage technique in medical consulting and treatment establishments, convalescence and functional rehabilitation institutions.

c/ A person allowed by the agency leadership to practice off-hours medicine (if he/she is working at a State medical institution).

2. A personnel directly working in a massage service must meet the following criteria:

a/ Having a certificate in massage technique and physical therapy.

b/ To have a certificate of permanent residence or legal temporary residence at the place of his/her work, and a people’s identity card.

c/ Having a certificate of physical fitness issued by the polyclinic of the province or the Medical Center of the district. The persons affected with mental diseases, contagious diseases or skin diseases under treatment are not allowed to practice massage service.

d/ Having graduated at least from a general education school.

3. Besides the bans from massage service stipulated at the Ordinance on Private Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice, the owner of a massage parlor and the personnel directly engaged in the service must not have a previous conviction and must be free from all prosecution.


1. The signboard must bear the inscription: Massage Parlor.

2. A massage parlor:

a/ Must comply with the following conditions:

– The parlor must be a large room with separate quarters for men and women.

– The large room must be walled into closets for individual beds each at least 4 square meters large. The separation wall must be 1.5 meters high (with an open space of 0.3m from the floor).

– A massage closet must be at least 4 m2 large.

b/ Concrete stipulations:

– The closet must be well aerated, sufficiently lighted and ensure hygiene.

– The door must be fitted with an interior glass pane with a while or azure cloth windscreen the lower end being 0.3m from the floor.

– The ceiling must be at least 2.5 m high.

– Each bed or closet must have a clothes hanger.

– The switches of the lights must be installed outside the massage closet

– Each closet must have an alarm bell for use in emergency cases. The bell must be a one-way bell sending alarm signal from inside the room only.

– The massage bed must be made according to the prescribed size: 0.8 m high, 0.6 m wide, 2 m long, have a solid mattress, bed sheet, hygienic cushion and towel.

– The bed and the room must be numbered.

– There must be a hygienic bath room and adequate supply of clean water.

3. The service personnel must wear neat, clean, nice-looking, unobtrusive clothes and a badge with the name of the establishment and the personal name with a photo size 3×4 cm.

4. A massage service personnel can operate in the massage parlor as prescribed in Section II, Item A, Point 2 mentioned above.

5. A massage pallor must have a first-aid medical chest and ordinary medical instruments. A medical personnel must be present during the time of the massage service.


1. A massage service establishment can operate only within the scope of the certificate that it has met the criteria and conditions for the massage service.

2. A person applying for the massage business can register to operate only one establishment. All acts of hiring or borrowing a diploma or certificate are strictly forbidden.

3. The personnel directly practicing the massage service must abide strictly by the prescribed technical process.

4. The personnel directly practicing the massage service must have a health record and must be subject to a periodical medical check every three months at a medical establishment from the district level upward.


A medical establishment or hotel can practice the massage service only if they meet the criteria and conditions stipulated in this Circular and are issued certificates of qualification by the Medical Service of the province or city directly under the Central Government.



1. An applicant for massage business shall have to send his/her dossier to the Medical Service of the province or city under the Central Government where he/she intends to open a massage business.

2. The dossier of application for certificates of qualification for massage practice shall include:

– An application for massage business (according to the form set out in Circular No.07-BYT/TT of April 30, 1994 of the Minister of Health guiding the implementation of the Ordinance on Private Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice, in the Section about private medical practice).

– A copy of the professional diploma or certificate notarized by the Notary Public.

– A curriculum vitae certified by the People’s Committee of the commune, ward or township where the concerned person resides permanently.

– An attestation that he/she has had five years of practice at a medical establishment or a convalescence home or a functional rehabilitation center.

– A certificate of physical fitness.

– An authorization of the Head of the agency or unit to carry out off-hours service if the applicant is working in a medical or pharmaceutical establishment of the State.

– A description of the location, the material and technical bases and professional equipment.

– The personal dossier of the personnel directly operating at these establishments.


1. The Director of the Health Service of the province of city directly under the Central Government shall issue the certificate of qualification for the massage practice.

2. The operating certificate is valid for three years from the date of issuance. On expiry of the certificate, the concerned person shall have to ask for extension of the permit at the agency with competence to issue the certificate. In case of a change of location during the period of operation, the massage establishment has to complete the procedure for a change of the operating certificate.

3. The fee for the issuance of an operating certificate shall comply with the regulations of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health regarding the fee on the issuance of certificate of qualification for the setting up of a private medical establishment (provided for in Section I, Item 8 on the setting up of sanatoria and functional rehabilitation establishments mentioned in the appendix issued together with the Inter-Ministerial Circular of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health No.51-TTLB of July 3, 1995).

4. After being issued with a certificate of qualification for the massage service, the applicant must send the whole of his/her dossier to the State agency with competence to consider and issue business licenses as prescribed by law. Past a time limit of six months from the date of issuance of the qualification certificate, if the applicant does not complete the procedures as prescribed above, the certificate shall be invalidated.


A. The Ministry of Health:

1. The Ministry of Health shall assign the Treatment Department, the Scientific and Training Department to draft the program for additional training in functional rehabilitation for the polyclinical doctor who applies for the massage service and the program for training technical personnel in physical therapy massage.

2. The Ministry of Health shall assign to a number of Medical Colleges, and Intermediate Medical Schools in various regions, provinces and cities directly under the Central Government the responsibility of giving additional training and training to professionals according to a program issued by the Ministry of Health for the training of massage personnel. After a course, if the trainee is judged qualified, he/she shall be issued with a certificate on the technique of massage. The establishments which want to send their personnel to the courses shall contact the schools assigned with training duty.

B. The Director of the medical institution and the Director of the hotel where a massage service is available shall have to supervise all activities of their establishment and to take responsibility before law for the activities of the establishment under their management. If prostitution is detected in the massage parlors, the Director shall be dealt with according to law.

C. The Medical Services of the provinces and cities directly under the Central Government shall coordinate with the Public Security Service and the Tourist Service and report to the People’s Committee of the province to organize the implementation of this Circular.


The Ministry of Health (the Inspectorate for medical examinations and treatment and the Department of Medical Treatment), the Medical Services of the provinces and cities directly under the Central Government shall coordinate with the concerned branches to increase the control and inspection at the massage service establishments and handle the violations as prescribed by law.

This Circular takes effect from the date of its signing and replaces Circular No.16-BYT/TT of November 11, 1995 of the Ministry of Health guiding the management of the massage and sauna service.-




Assoc. Prof., Assoc. Dr. Le Ngoc Trong

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