Chief Accountant for Companies in Vietnam: Know Your Obligations

A chief accountant is a legal requirement for most companies in Vietnam as they are responsible for all official financial statements.

What is a Chief Accountant?

Chief accountants are an essential part of most companies in Vietnam. A chief accountant is an accountant with more advanced degrees and is able to take on the responsibilities needed to keep your taxes set up correctly and filing on time and within the constraints of the law. The Vietnamese government requires that if you are making a certain amount of profit in the country, you have to assign a qualified person to the position of chief accountant in your company.

Every company that is not considered a “micro-enterprise” needs to have a chief accountant assigned.  This means that the company has:

  • 10 or more employees
  • Revenue of more than VND 10 billion per year
  • Capital injection of more than VND 3 billion, and VND 10 billion for manufacturing companies

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The chief accountant is responsible for day-to-day accounting department needs including all major documents, end-of-year reports, audits, and working with local tax authorities. 

Required Qualifications of a Chief Accountant in Vietnam

The difference between a standard accountant and a chief accountant is that a chief accountant is subject to higher requirements, as stated in Vietnam’s Law on Accounting 2015. The requirements also apply to practitioners being promoted to chief accountants.

  • Have a Bachelor of Accountancy degree (also known as a Bachelor of Accounting);
  • Worked at least 2 years as an accountant or performing accounting duties;
  • Received training for a Certificate of Chief Accountant, specified in Circular 199/2011/TT-BTC;
  • Present appropriate knowledge and skill for the position, alongside work ethics;
  • Meet the standards of the government for their specific type of accounting unit.

Additionally, people that are judicially banned from performing accounting functions, as well as close relatives of the legal representative and director of accounting (unless in a private enterprise), are not allowed to take this role.

Full Responsibilities

The chief accountant is responsible for managing the accounting department, revising and signing all financial documents. If the chief accountant is outsourced to a service provider, then the documents are prepared by the outsourcing company and signed by the legal representative of the company. 

  • Control the accounting department’s daily operations
  • Sign on bank payment documents, salary payments, etc.
  • Sign on Year-end financial report, audit FS report
  • Work with tax authority & auditors, provide documents and explain all queries from tax authority/ auditors 
  • Ensure that all statutory obligations are met in a timely manner

Liaising with local tax authorities

The chief accountant is also responsible for communications with the local Vietnamese tax authorities, this includes dealing with tax audits, and any clarifications needed by the tax authorities regarding your filings. He or she is also responsible for providing documents that they may request to clarify your company’s filings.

  • Yearly Audits: The chief accountant has to deal with problems with the yearly audits, but the main person who supports the audit process is the company legal representative. 

Fines you should be aware of

According to Decree 41/2018/ND-CP, fines ranging from VND 10.000.000 to VND 20.000.000 shall be imposed for the following violations:

  • Failure to organize the accounting unit’s accounting apparatus;
  • Failure to appoint accountants, chief accountants or purchase accounting services or chief accountant’s services

The fine is applied for each instance of violation detected, if a company has already been fined but still doesn’t comply with the regulation, there is a possibility to be inspected and a higher fine/penalty is applied.

Chief accountant outsourcing

The fastest and most efficient way to expand to a new market and get your taxes set up and done in compliance with the local laws is via a business process outsourcing provider. These corporate secretarial services can be found in all emerging markets and have years of experience specifically helping foreign companies establish their presence in the country. Vietnam is no different, navigating the complexities of local tax regulations that are constantly changing can put you at a disadvantage if you are not aware of the regulations and if you don’t have a competent accountant helping you.

Requirements for accounting firms

Regulations for accounting firms providing the above functions to an enterprise are generally more extensive than those of an in-house accountant. The service provider must have a Certificate of eligibility to provide accounting services in addition to satisfying all the conditions specified in Vietnam’s Law on Accounting (including the Certificate of Chief Accountant training).

The Certificate of eligibility is granted to accounting firms that have:

  • An Enterprise Registration Certificate (ERC), Investment Registration Certificate (IRC) or other equivalent registration documents;
  • At least two accounting professionals as employees (or capital contributors);
  • A legal representative, director or general director who is an accounting professional.

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If your business has more than 10 employees & has a revenue of more than 10B VND you are required by law to have a chief accountant handling your taxes

Jason Ha

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Jason Ha

Jason Ha is the Accounting Manager in our Vietnam office. He has gained experience in the accounting & finance field in international companies in Ho Chi Minh City for over 7 years.