Decree No. 55-CP of October 10 , 1996, of the Government on the activities of foreign warships visiting the socialist republic of Vietnam



Independence – Freedom – Happiness

No. 55-CP

Hanoi ,October 0110 , 1996




Pursuant to the Law on Organization of the Government of September 30, 1992;
Pursuant to the Maritime Code of Vietnam;
Pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982;
At the proposal of the Minister of Defense,


Chapter I


Article 1.- This Decree provides for the activities of foreign warships and the crew on board during their visits to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Article 2.- Warships are ships belonging to the armed force of a nation or a military organization, carrying the outward signs typical of the warships of that nation or military organization and under the command of a naval officer who serves that nation or organization. Such commander (captain) must have his/her name on the list of officers or in a similar document and the crew must abide by the military disciplinary regulations.

Article 3.- The terms used in this Decree shall be construed as follows:

1. Ports:

– Seaports are ports opened in accordance with Vietnams Maritime Code to accommodate sea-going ships.

– Military ports are ports which are managed by the Minister of Defense of Vietnam and operates in accordance with the regulations on military ports.

2. The activities of a warship include: entering and leaving, staying and other activities during its visit and stay in the port.

3. The members on board a warship consist of the head of the delegation (if any), the captain, sailors and other accompanying people.

Article 4.- Foreign warships visiting and operating at the Vietnamese ports must respect the independence and sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, abide by the provisions of Vietnamese law, the provisions of this Decree and the international agreements which Vietnam has signed or acceded to; and, at the same time, observe the guidance of the specialized management authorities at the ports.

Chapter II


Article 5.- Foreign warships entering Vietnamese ports for visits including:

1. Official visits by the head of a foreign State on board a warship via a Vietnamese port at the invitation of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to enhance the friendly relationships between the two States.

2. Courtesy visits to enhance the friendly relationships between the peoples and the armies of the two nations.

3. Ordinary visits to coordinate military training and maneuvers, to supply technical materials or to resupply in fuel, buy food or to give sailors a rest.

Article 6.-

1. The visit of a foreign warship must be permitted by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, except otherwise provided for by an agreement signed between the Government of Vietnam and the country that owns the ship.

2. A foreign warship shall seek permission to visit Vietnam (except for official visits) through the diplomatic channel at least 30 days before the planned date of its arrival at the port, (except otherwise provided for by a treaty or agreement signed between the two Governments). In the declaration form requesting permission for visiting Vietnam by a warship, the following must be clearly stated:

– The name, type, registration number and technical specifications of the ship.

– Type of the visit (official, courtesy or ordinary)

– The port of call.

– The time of arrival and the length of stay.

– The full name, rank and title of the ship captain.

– The number of officers, non-commissioned officers and other accompanying people on board each ship.

– The number of people on board who have nationalities other than the ships nationality.

– The communication equipment and liaison frequencies to be registered for use during the visit and operation at the port.

– The request for fuel supply, the working program and other requests of the delegation.

3. After a warship is permitted to visit, 48 hours before entering the waters of Vietnam, the captain of the warship must notify the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense (the External Relation Department) of the visit so that preparations for the reception can be made. If there is any change in the contents already stated in the declaration form defined in Item 2, Article 6, the captain must report it and ask for permission through diplomatic channels before the ship enters the port.

4. The hoisting of the flag of a foreign warship visiting Vietnam shall be made according to the agreement reached through diplomatic channels between the Government of Vietnam and the Government of the country the ship bears its nationality.

Article 7.- Upon entering the waters of Vietnam, a foreign warship must observe the following regulations:

1. If it is a submarine, it must be in the floating state.

2. It must clearly display its registration number and name.

3. All the weapons on board must be at the non-operational position and in the maintenance state.

4. It must stop in the area for receiving/returning a pilot to complete the entry formalities under the guidance of the Vietnamese port authorities and the pilot.

5. It is allowed to use only the necessary equipment to ensure navigational safety and the registered liaison frequencies.

6. It must arrive at the entry port via the prescribed route and corridor.

Article 8.- While completing the entry and exit formalities the following documents must be produced:

1. For the ship:

– The registration certificate or document evidencing the ships nationality.

– The list of the members on board.

– The declaration of goods (if any)

– The declaration of the quantity of weapons, communications equipment and other military equipment on board.

– The working program of the delegation during its stay at the port.

2. For the members on board:

– Passports or equivalent papers.

Article 9.- The ceremonial and protocol activities during the visit of a foreign warship must strictly conform to the mutually agreed schedule. The Ministry of Defense shall have to supervise the foreign warships activities at the port and coordinate with other concerned agencies in organizing the reception.

Article 10.- A foreign warship visiting Vietnam is allowed to anchor only at the designated port agreed upon when seeking permission through diplomatic channels. The number of warships of the same country anchoring at the same time at the port must not be more than three (03) and the length of their stay must not exceed seven (7) days, except for special cases permitted by the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Article 11.- While anchoring at the port, the foreign warship must adhere to the regulations on the management of maritime activities at the seaports and maritime areas of Vietnam or the regulations on military ports. All the activities of the ship and the members on board must conform with the program, other activities outside the program must be permitted by the competent authorities at the port.

Article 12.- The members on board the warship shall disembark only when they have completed the entry formalities and are so permitted by the Border Guard Station of the port or as prescribed by the regulations on military ports. Any accompanied goods must be subject to the provisions of Vietnamese laws on Customs, Health and Quarantine.

Once ashore, they must strictly follow the program and regulations already notified by the Vietnamese authorities.

Article 13.- A foreign warship entering, leaving and staying at a Vietnamese port must not carry out the following activities:

1. Undertaking activities against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

2. Carrying out propaganda and intelligence activities and other acts detrimental to the defense or security of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

3. Carrying weapons of mass destruction, radioactive substances, toxic chemicals and narcotics.

4. Disseminating and distributing printed matters, pictures and films and other cultural publications without the permission of the State of Vietnam.

5. Taking people and goods onto or out of the ship in contravention of the provisions of Vietnamese law on entry and exit, except for rescuing people, which, however, must be immediately notified to the Vietnamese authorities at the port.

6. Launching, receiving or loading on board any flying equipment or military weaponry without the permission of the Vietnamese authorities.

7. Conducting illegal research or measurement activities, fishing marine products, trading, or jamming the communications system, obstructing transport and communications, causing pollution to the environment or damage to the port facilities and constructions.

8. Moving alongside another ship or entering an prohibited area without permission.

9. Taking films and photos and drawing maps of the prohibited area.

10. Causing public disorder, hindering or countering the performance of official duties by the Vietnamese authorities.

11. Conducting other activities prohibited by Vietnamese law.

Chapter III


Article 14.- Any violation by a foreign warship of the provisions in this Decree and other provisions of Vietnamese law shall be handled through diplomatic channels.

– The captain of the foreign warship shall be held accountable for the consequences of any illegal act of the members on board the ship during its stay in the Vietnamese port.

– Any member on board the warship who violates Vietnamese law shall be handled depending on the nature and extent of his/her violation in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law (except for people who enjoy diplomatic privileges and immunity).

Article 15.- The competence to handle violations shall be exercised in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law.

Chapter IV


Article 16.- This Decree takes effect from the date of its signing, the earlier provisions regarding the visits of foreign warships to Vietnamese ports which are contrary to this Decree are now annulled.

Article 17.- The Minister of Defense shall have to guide the implementation of this Decree.

Article 18.- The Ministers, the heads of the ministerial-level agencies and the agencies attached to the Government, the Presidents of the Peoples Committees of the provinces and the cities directly under the Central Government shall have to implement this Decree.




Vo Van Kiet

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