THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE - THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
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SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM
Independence - Freedom - Happiness
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No. 3320/1997/TTLT/QP-NG
Hanoi, December 11, 1997
 
JOINT CIRCULAR
GUIDING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF DECREE No. 55-CP OF OCTOBER 1, 1996 OF THE GOVERNMENT ON THE ACTIVITIES OF FOREIGN WARSHIPS VISITING THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
On October 1, 1996 the Government issued Decree No. 55-CP on the activities of foreign warships on visits to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This is an important legal document which contribute to the enhancement and expansion of the friendly and cooperative relationships between our country and other countries in general and between the Vietnam People's Army and the foreign armies as well as international military organizations in particular. It constitutes a legal basis for safeguarding the national sovereignty and enhancing the management of sea areas and ports of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
In order to manage the activities of foreign warships and their crews, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs provide hereby the following uniform guidance on the implementation of Decree No. 55-CP:
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS
1. Foreign warships on visits to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam referred to in Decree No. 55-CP include: floating ships, submarines, support ships of the armed forces of a country or an international military organization, which are permitted by the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to arrive at Vietnamese ports.
2. Visits include:
a/ Official visits by the Heads of State to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by warships at the invitation of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
b/ Courtesy visits for the purpose of maintaining and developing the friendly relationships between the peoples and the armed forces of the two countries or between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and an international military organization or visits which, as agreed upon between the two sides, are not those defined in Item a of this Point.
c/ Ordinary visits for the purpose of military training or maneuvers or for undertaking other activities under the agreements signed between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the country or international military organization owning the visiting ship (unless otherwise provided for by the relevant agreement) or visits for supplying or receiving materials, technical equipment, fuel, food, foodstuff or for giving sailors a rest.
3. Foreign warships and their crews on visits to Vietnam shall have to respect the independence and sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, abide by the provisions of Vietnamese law and international agreements which Vietnam has signed or acceded to and follow the program of the visits already agreed upon by the two sides and the guidance of the specialized State management agencies of Vietnam.
II. PROCEDURES TO APPLY FOR VISITS TO VIETNAMESE PORTS
1. Regarding procedures:
a/ For official visits: Not later than 15 days before the expected date of the ship's arrival at a port, the country or international military organization owning the visiting ship shall have to notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Consular Department) of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam of the details of the visit already agreed upon by the two sides.
b/ The time of application for foreign delegations visiting on board warships to a Vietnamese port under the agreements signed between the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the concerned countries or international military organizations shall comply with the provisions of the above-mentioned agreements.
c/ For courtesy and ordinary visits (except for the case specified in Item b) the country or international military organization that sends a delegation by warship shall send a note together with a declaration to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Consular Department) or the diplomatic representative mission or the consular office of Vietnam in the concerned country not later than 30 days before the expected date of the ship's arrival at a port.
d/ The declaration form is enclosed herewith.
e/ After obtaining permission for a visit, not later than 48 hours before the ship entering the territorial waters of Vietnam, the country, the international military organization or the chief delegate/ship captain shall have to notify the External Relations Department of the Ministry of Defense so that the latter can organize a reception and, at the same time, contact the port authority at the place where the ship is arriving on the frequency already agreed upon. The External Relations Department of the Ministry of Defense shall have to notify immediately the Consular Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs thereof, for coordination in guiding the organization of the reception.
In case there is a change in the ship's program already agreed upon in advance in the declaration, the chief delegate/ship captain shall have to notify the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for official visits) or the External Relations Department of the Ministry of Defense (for courtesy and ordinary visits) for settlement before the ship enters the port.
f/ When entering the territorial waters to a Vietnamese port, foreign warships shall have to comply with the provisions in Article 7, Decree No. 55-CP and the regulation on the management of navigation activities at Vietnamese ports and navigation areas.
2. When a foreign warship arriving at a port, its liaison officer shall have to contact the liaison officer of the reception organizing committee at the port so as to reach agreement on the protocol activities. For ships on ordinary visits or for technical calls, the ship's liaison officer should contact the concerned port authority for meeting the requirements as previously agreed upon.
III. ACTIVITIES OF SHIPS AND CREW
1. Activities of ships at Vietnamese ports:
a/ Abiding by the provisions of Vietnamese law and the guidance of the port authority regarding the place where the entry and exit procedures are filled; the navigation, anchoring and docking, mooring alongside, loading and unloading of goods, information and communication, security and order, fire and explosion prevention, environmental pollution... during the visits.
b/ When anchoring at a port, the use of any other means from the ship for traveling must be approved by the head of the reception organizing committee who shall have to inform the port authority and the port's coast guard station thereof.
c/ All activities of a ship must be carried out in accordance with the already agreed program; if any problem arises, the chief delegate/ship captain shall have to inform the head of the reception organizing committee thereof for approval.
2. Activities of crews:
a/ Crews can go ashore only after they have completed the entry procedures; The port's coast guard station shall base itself on the application for ashore travel of the chief delegate/ship captain to issue ashore travel permits for the delegation members. When traveling ashore, the ship's members shall go in delegation or groups, military personnel must wear uniform and must not carry weapons (except for cases of military parades or maneuvers as planned) and shall place themselves under the guidance of the port's coast guard station and other local functional agencies in the locality.
b/ When there is a need for sightseeings or visits outside the program, the chief delegate/ship captain shall have to send a written request to the head of the reception organizing committee, clearly indicating the composition and number of delegates, location, time and means of transport and all costs shall be paid by the delegation. Such request can be realized only after it is approved by Vietnam's Ministry of Defense.
3. For foreign warships on ordinary visits to receive supplies, technical equipment, fuel, food, foodstuff,... after completing the entry procedures, the ship captain shall contact the port authority so that the mutually agreed requirements are met through the service agents at the port and shall have to complete all customs procedures and abide by relevant provisions of law. The Navy Command shall be responsible for coordinating with the provincial/municipal foreign affairs office of the locality where the ship is arriving, in organizing the reception according to the agreed plan.
IV. RESPONSIBILITIES OF FUNCTIONAL AGENCIES AND ADMINISTRATIONS OF THE LOCALITIES TO BE VISITED BY FOREIGN WARSHIPS
1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
a/ Sending notes notifying the invitation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam State to the concerned countries and/or international military organizations with regard to official visits.
b/ Receiving notes from the countries and/or international military organizations seeking permission for visits to Vietnam. On the basis of the actual situation, the purpose, nature, program of a visit as well as the relationships between our country and the country or international organization that has a note seeking permission for a visit, submitting the notes to the Government for decision. Before submitting a note to the Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall consult the Ministry of Defense, the concerned ministries, branches and localities regarding the visit.
c/ Notifying the country or international organization owning the ship applying for a visit to Vietnam of: the decision of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam on the permission, the delegation's working program in Vietnam, the head of the reception committee of Vietnam and the flying of the national flag of Vietnam on the ship.
d/ Coordinating with the Ministry of Defense in conducting protocol activities and proposing the setting up of a reception organizing committee for official visits.
e/ Resolving consular matters during the visit of the delegation.
f/ Performing other tasks assigned by the Government.
2. The Ministry of Defense:
a/ Submitting to the Government for decision and organizing the execution of the Government's decision regarding the reception of delegations of countries and/or international military organizations on courtesy and ordinary visits to Vietnam on board warships;
b/ Proposing to the Government the setting up of a reception organizing committee after consulting the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the concerned ministries and branches and the provincial People's Committee of the locality where the ship will arrive; not later than 7 days before the ship arrives at the area of receiving or returning a pilot, notifying the Government's decision regarding the assignment of responsibilities to the concerned ministries, branches and localities so as to ensure that the visit can be made ;
c/ Directing the reception organizing committee, the functional bodies of the concerned ministries and branches and the provincial People's Committee of the locality where the ship will arrive, in coordinating the organization of the necessary reception activities and formalities to welcome, receive and see off visiting foreign warships as well as resolving matters arising during the visit;
d/ Contributing comments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the latter can report to the Government for decision on official visits at the invitation of the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam;
e/ Overseeing the preparatory work and plan implementation by the reception committees of the concerned ministries, branches and localities where the delegation will visit;
f/ Processing the entry and exit procedures for ships and crews;
g/ Managing all activities of foreign warships and crews during their visits to Vietnam.
3. Local administrations:
a/ The provincial People's Committee of the locality where a ship is to visit shall base itself on the Government's decision, the guidance of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to direct the concerned branches under its management to organize the welcome, reception and farewell and to ensure safety for the human lives and facilities of the delegation during its visit.
b/ The provincial People's Committee of the locality where a ship shall visit may mobilize human and material resources from agencies and units stationing therein for the welcome and farewell as well as the security of the delegation during its visit.
4. The reception organizing committee and liaison officers:
a/ For official visits, the reception shall comply with the State protocols stipulated in Decree No. 186/HDBT of June 02, 1992 of the Council of Ministers (now the Government) on the "Regulation on State Protocols and Reception of Foreign Guests."
b/ For courtesy visits, the reception organizing committee shall be set up by the Ministry of Defense.
The committee shall be composed of: the representatives of the provincial People's Committee of the locality where a delegation shall visit, the Consular Department and the Protocols Department (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs); the provincial foreign affairs office of the locality where the delegation shall visit; the External Relations Department, the Border Guard Headquarters, the Navy Command... (the Ministry of Defense), and the liaison officer designated by the Ministry of Defense.
The tasks and powers of the reception organizing committee:
- The reception organizing committee is set up to organize the welcome, reception and farewell of a delegation visiting Vietnam and is dissolved after the delegation concludes its visit.
- To elaborate the plan for the welcome, reception and farewell of a delegation; ensure necessary expenses for the performance of tasks.
- To assume the prime responsibility and coordination with the concerned agencies in providing uniform guidance on the implementation of the plan on the delegation's activities.
- To receive written requests of the delegation for handling or reporting to the Ministry of Defense for dealing with matters arising during the visit.
- To report the results of the visit to the External Relations Department of the Ministry of Defense so that the Ministry of Defense can report them to the Government.
The members of the committee shall work according to the assignment by its head and according to the functions and tasks assigned by their own agencies and units.
5. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs shall have to assist the provincial People's Committee in directing the reception organizing committee to correctly implement the plan of the visit to Vietnam by the foreign warship(s) according to their competence.
V. HANDLING OF VIOLATIONS
1. With regard to ships: Foreign warships on visits to Vietnam that violate law shall be handled according to Vietnamese law, except otherwise provided for by international agreements which Vietnam has signed or acceded to.
2. With regard to crews: All acts of violation of Vietnamese law shall be handled according to Vietnamese law, except otherwise provided for by international agreements which Vietnam has signed or acceded to.
3. The country or international military organization the flag of which is flown by a ship shall be liable for any damage caused by such ship and/or its crew.
The head of the delegation/ship captain shall be accountable for consequences of the ship crew's acts of violation of Vietnamese laws during the visit to Vietnam.
4. Competence to handle violations shall comply with the provisions of Vietnamese laws.
VI. ORGANIZATION OF IMPLEMENTATION
1. The Ministry of Defense shall, together with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs guide the provincial People's Committee of the locality where the ship shall visit and the concerned ministries, branches and localities coordinate in organizing the implementation of this Circular.
2. The Ministry of Defense shall assume the main responsibility and coordinate with the ministries, branches and the provincial People's Committee of the locality where the ship shall visit in well organizing the visit; and, at the same time, make a report to the Government on the results of the visits to Vietnam by foreign warships.
3. The provincial People's Committee of the locality where the ship will visit shall create every favorable condition for the reception organizing committee to fulfill its assigned task.
4. This Circular takes effect 15 days after its signing.
THE MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE 
VICE MINISTER 

 
 
 
Tran Hanh
THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
VICE MINISTER




Nguyen Dy Nien