Filming in Vietnam
YOUR EXPERT GUIDE
Film permit process
Why need a Vietnam film permit?
It is regulated by Vietnam law that all foreign broadcasters, production companies, movie studios, or independent filmmakers who want to film in Vietnam must apply for a film permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) or Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST).
Film permit benefits you. The film permit process includes journalist visa & drone permit application, customs clearance for equipment at the airport, securing permissions you need from appropriate local authorities, governmental entities, and so forth.
5 steps to complete the film permit process,
Step 1: Conduct the research, scout the potential locations and pick up your favorites, find unique stories and local contributors, interviewees.
Step 2: Finalize the daily shooting schedule incl. specific filming locations, names of local contributors, interviewees, and travel plan.
Step 3: Submit the application.
Step 4: Once the application is accepted, film officer(s) will be assigned to process the film permit.
Step 5: Film permit is ready for release and delivery.
Film permit fee and other expenses
The fee for film permits in Vietnam is charged on daily basis. But for large-scale projects, which include a large number of film crew members, shooting days, filming locations, and a lot of filming equipment, the fee will be charged on a package basis.
Another expense that film crews have to pay is a fee for visa stamping at the airport in Vietnam upon arrival or at Vietnam embassies in their countries. It is around 25 USD per person. Each member of the film crew is required to bring two passport-sized photos with him or her. Otherwise, they will have to pay 2 USD to have their photos taken at the airport’s visa counter.
According to Vietnam law, at least one film officer is required to attend the shoot. The number of assigned film officers depends on the scale of the production (number of film crew members, shooting days, filming locations, working hours per day, and filming equipment). So, the travel, accommodation and catering expenses for film officer(s) is covered by film crews.
Documents to be submitted for Vietnam film permit application
Your Vietnam fixer needs to submit the following documents for film permit application.
Filled-out Press Request Form.
Synopsis or purpose of the shoot.
Daily shooting schedule incl. specific filming locations, names of local contributors, interviewees, and travel plans.
In case, film crews want to fly drones in Vietnam, detailed information about the location of flying drone and date of flying must be provided.
List of film crew members incl. casts, talents, models, hosts, and local crew (if applicable), titles and copies of their passports.
List of equipment.
Primary responsibilities of film officers
The standard processing time for Vietnam film permit is 7 to 10 working days from the day that application is accepted. The responsibilities of film officers include – but not limited to – below works:
Request Vietnam Dept. of Immigration (under Ministry of Public Security) to process and grant journalist visa for all members of film crews.
Vietnam is not a carnet country. So, before film crews arrive, film officers will work with airport customs to arrange equipment clearance for film crews.
Obtain permissions to film and/or interview from appropriate local authorities, governmental entities.
On behalf of film crews, film officers obtain drone permit from the Ministry of Defense (if necessary)
Attend the shoot and collaborate with your Vietnam fixer and film crews to revise the shooting schedule during the actual filming (if necessary).
Once journalist visa approval letter and film permits are issued, your fixer in Vietnam will send copies to film crews by email. Film crews print and present them at Vietnam airport upon arrival to pick up journalist visa. The other option is to claim journalist visa at Vietnam embassy in their countries to avoid queuing up for hours at busy airports.
Can fly the drone without a permit?
According to Vietnam law, flying a drone in Vietnam is legal. However, a unique drone permit is required for every drone flight conducted in Vietnam. Applications must be submitted at least 7 to 10 working days before the planned date of the flight to the Ministry of Defense.
Recently, some people have sent me emails to ask for consultancy on whether or not they can bring in drones and have drone flights in Vietnam without a Vietnam drone permit. My advice is you should apply for drone permit if you are a professional film crew. With all kinds of film permit in your hand, you can focus 100% on filming.
If you come to Vietnam as tourists, you can bring in and have drone flight without a Vietnam drone permit at locations that are not touristy or most-visited tourist attractions but you should mentally prepare yourself to cope with the fact that your drone can be confiscated, your footage is deleted and you got fined. This is the biggest risk of having a drone flight without a permit in Vietnam.
Filming in Vietnam and transportation
The road condition in Vietnam is good now. There is a system of the expressway connecting different parts of the country. There are 5 major cities in Vietnam: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, and Can Tho. It is convenient to fly between these cities and from these cities to other provinces. The 3 biggest air carriers are Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and Vietjet Air. 4 major international airports are Noi Bai (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City), Da Nang, and Cam Ranh (Nha Trang).
The most popular vehicles for film crews to travel are 16-seater vans like Ford Transit, Hyundai Solati and 7-seater cars like Toyota Fortuner, Innova. Because they are suitable for traveling on small roads in crowded cities and remote, rural areas.
According to Vietnam law, drivers in Vietnam are not allowed to work more than 4 consecutive hours and 10 hours per day.
Can our Vietnam fixer facilitate your filming?
Our Vietnam fixer can definitely facilitate film permits. We will work closely with film crews and film officers to finalize the whole filming plan and submit the application to film officers.
After the submission, we can change the filming plan slightly. However, for major changes, we need to discuss them carefully with film officers because the changes may result in resending documents to local authorities. We may not have enough time to do this.
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For the time and date of Vietnam click here
There is no absolutely right or wrong period of time for your filming in Vietnam in terms of weather because in almost months during the year you will see both sunshine and rain in different quantities. Vietnam is a country with over 3,000km of coastline and has three different weather systems.
Vietnam is typically hot and has high humidity, the weather can change dramatically from one part to another part due to the length of the country.
Sometimes, there has been snow in the mountainous northern part of the country while in the south, people can enjoy life under the sun in beautiful beaches.
Typically, Vietnam has three main geographical parts. The North, The Central and The South with different destinations.
Mountainous Far North
Beautiful rice terraces in Sapa and Mu Cang Chai, the grandeur of the mountains in Ha Giang, the colorful market in Bac Ha, amazing Ban Gioc waterfall, immense Ba Be lake...are unique filming locations in Far North Vietnam.
The weather in Sapa and far Northwest Vietnam is divided into two seasons: the dry season runs from October to April/May, with the wet season lasting from May/June to September. It can get very cold in December and January, especially at night.
The best months to travel in Northeast Vietnam (Ha Giang) is during the dry season, from October to June, although December and January can get very cold. We recommend avoiding traveling in Ha Giang during the rainy season (July to September).
Trekking and adventure:
The best trekking conditions in Sapa and Northwest Vietnam are from September to November and from March to May/June. Daytime temperatures range from 15-28°C, and nighttime temperatures from 10-18°C. Trekking and cycling are possible year-round, however, the wintertime can be rather chilly, and the summer rather wet.
Hoi An ancient town, Danang beaches, Imperial city of Hue, Quy Nhon & Nha Trang beaches are attractions in this region.
Hoi An, Hue & Danang in the center of Vietnam have hot and dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures often reaching the mid-30's °C. During the winter months, the rainfall increases with October and November achieving peak levels, occasionally in the form of typhoons.
Hue is often cooler than Hoi An, especially early in the year. In addition, with each sitting on opposite sides of a small mountain range the weather can often differ between the two greatly on any given day.
Quy Nhon is a six-hour drive south of Hoi An and shares a similar weather pattern although the dry season is slightly longer due to its proximity to the southern system.
At the far south of Central Vietnam, Nha Trang benefits from a longer dry season (typically January to September), with high temperatures and little rain. The rainy season runs from October to early December with almost half the annual rainfall falling in October and November. Further to the South, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan are renowned for beautiful sand dunes and the weather is dry. This area is the so-called "little desert" in Vietnam.
South Vietnam & the Central Highlands
Ho Chi Minh City, The Mekong Delta area, Cai Rang floating market, Phu Quoc island, and Da Lat city...attract lots of tourists and film crews.
With temperatures remaining constant year round the climate of the south is split into two simple seasons, wet and dry. The dry season begins in November and ends in April/early May with late February to May being slightly hotter and with higher humidity. The wet season lasts from May to early November with the months from June to August receiving the highest rainfall of the year. Throughout much of the wet season, rainfall is generally heavy but short-lasting, often occurring in a mid-afternoon heavy downpour.
The average temperatures in the South range between 25 - 35°C year-round.
In the far South, the beaches of Phu Quoc enjoy a monsoon climate with two seasons; wet (late-July to late October) and dry (November to July). Visits to Phu Quoc can be made year-round although the best time is during the dry season (outside of October the chances of sunny days remain high).
Da Lat (so-called "little Paris" located in the Central Highlands) is wet from June to October making outdoor pursuits problematic. From November to May it is far dryer although cold in December & January.
Countries have a visa exemption agreement with Vietnam
Recently, to promote the tourism industry, the Vietnam government has promulgated a decree to allow nationals of certain countries to enter Vietnam without a visa for a period of time:
The United Kingdom 15 days
France 15 days
Italy 15 days
Spain 15 days
Germany 15 days
Belarus 15 days
Japan 15 days
South Korea 15 days
Sweden 15 days
Norway 15 days
Denmark 15 days
Russia 15 days
Finland 15 days
Cambodia 30 days
Thailand 30 days
Malaysia 30 days
Singapore 30 days
Indonesia 30 days
Laos 30 days
Philippines 21 days
Brunei 14 days
Myanmar 14 days
Film crew members who are citizens of these countries can enter Vietnam without a visa but film officers will work with the Immigration Department to check the status of entering the country with journalism purposes before issuing a film permit. This is an internal process.