By law, all press activities need to be registered and monitored by Press authority in Vietnam, in which, you need to apply for press visa and film permit Vietnam at least 10 business days in advance via Foreign Press Center (FPC): http://www.presscenter.org.vn/
When you apply for film permit, you need to provide information of: people who are coming, filming program and location, list of equipment, interview questions, publication and broadcasting plan …
You can download here the Press Request Form, which is the form to apply for film permit.
Beside fill up the Press Request Form, you also need to send scan/photos of passport of all members in the crew. This will help to apply for press visa. Please contact us if you need help filling this form!
* Film permit fee is daily shooting fee, that means if there is a day you plan to film only 15 minutes, you still need to pay for the whole day. And if there is a day at first you didn’t plan to film (for example, you want to use the last day for resting and shopping), but later you decided to film, depend on the content, the film officer will decide if you can film and you need to pay for filming that day.
Film permit fee doesn’t include drone permit fee. If you want to use drone, you need to apply for drone permit with separate fee. Read about drone permit here. However, having a film permit enable you to apply for a drone permit, because you technically can’t apply for a drone permit without a film permit. Read the post to understand why.
Film permit grant you permit to film any outdoor place in Vietnam (for locations you registered), however, for any indoor place, extra permission need to be asked either by yourself, your fixer or film officer. For example, if you want to film at a restaurant, then either you or your Vietnam fixer need to contact with owner of the restaurant to ask. If you want to film at temple/church/government-owned facility, then film officer would help you to ask for permission.
+ Filming at airport requires extra permission and it is usually not possible to acquire permit for filming at it’s closer to National Holiday when airport is crowded and reach to highest security level. (You can stay in the car and film via the window, though).
2. Press visa:
Film permit fee doesn’t include visa fee (if any). This mean, you will be issued press visa letter for your filming trip, however, when you arrive at airport, you need to pay for visa stamp at Customs. Depends on your nationality, you may or may not have to pay for visa stamp. Price of the stamp depend on the length of your stay.
Press visa is issued for the same period of film permit + 2 days for your arrival and departure. If you want to send few people to come for scouting before filming, then let us know and we will discuss with you for a solution.
And please book the flight to arrive on time of your visa. For example, if you film from Aug 16 till Sep 1st, then your press visa will be valid from Aug 15 till Sep 2nd, please book your flight to arrive on Aug 15th onwards to reduce you possible trouble, i.e: your airline may not let you board.
Example of visa stamp fee:
– If you hold passports of following countries, and your stay is not more than 15 days, you don’t have to pay for a visa stamp: Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Finland, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italia and Spain.
Photos of press visa letter. It doesn’t look much different with tourist visa letter, the only difference is it helps you to bring film equipment into Vietnam without being questionable.
3. Film officer:
Film officer or film commissioner or government minder are term we use to address an officer from FPC accompany the filming crew in the whole time of the filming trip. His presence is mandatory by law. He is assigned by FRC and his name is listed in film permit. You need to pay for his per diem, food, accommodation and transportation (separately with film permit).
His/her roles are:
+ observe and manage the filming crew to film within the content they’ve registered. (For political reason, to make sure that they don’t make a bad image or include wrong content about Vietnam).
On filming site, film officer also can tell you where you can film and where you can’t.
+ helping and supporting filming crew with local authorities.
Having film permit doesn’t mean that anywhere you go, you will be accommodated by local authorities and they would make it easy for you to film. Most of the time, it looks like the film officer just standing there observing you, doing nothing and sometime speaking on phone, but his phone calls are to speak with local authorities. And if the local authorities are onsite, normally the film officer speaks with them the most, explaining about the filming crew.
Normally, there should be only 1 or 2 or 3 people of local authority are onsite (or better – none), but there was a case at Ha Tinh province, we had 10 or more people from different departments of local authorities were onsite. Their presences are usually harmless unless you do something not right.
What to pay for a film officer? His per diem, plus his food, accommodation and transportation.
Normally, payment for film permit and per diem of film officer are made to film fixer. And film fixer will make it to FRC. FRC is an independent financial organization under Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are provided an office, furniture and some fixed expenses, but other expenses such as salaries for staffs or activities of themselves, they need to pay from what they can collect. So film officer can’t totally earn his per diem.
About paying for his food, accommodation and transportation. It really depends on preferences and set up of filming crew. Some filming crew decide that local crew stay in the same hotel and eat together with them, so they will just pay for everything. Some filming crew prefer to eat and live separately, and they would come and pay for hotel of local team by credit card, and give payment for food to film fixer, OR sometime they just give payment for both hotel and food to film fixer. About transportation, normally only need to be mentioned if there is flight involved. All film officers are based in Hanoi, so if filming elsewhere, filming crew need to pay for his transportation to come.
You can’t choose film officer to work with (you also don’t know all of them to choose), but an experienced film fixer who have worked with lots of film officers will make things easier. Generally speaking, film officers are supportive if you do the right thing.
4. Tips for a good film permit application:
+ Ask your Vietnamese fixer to help you to write the application in Vietnamese would be very helpful. As it would be much easier for the Foreign Press Center to understand. They can speak English, of course, but Vietnamese is a tonal language, and as you don’t know how to write the tones, FRC may have more difficulties to understand names of either people or places. And you even may write incorrectly, or the auto-correct might make you write incorrectly.
+ Be as specific and details as possible. For example, you should list full name of interviewee with their title and/or address with questions you plan to ask them. If interviewees are Vietnamese, then ask your fixer to help you to write the names in Vietnamese (with tone marks)
Same with locations, it’s best to write in Vietnamese, and exact name of location. For example: write “Ngũ Hành Sơn” will be easier for Foreign Press Center to understand than “Marble Mountains”. (This is a place in Danang).